Fred Armisen Teaches a Short Seminar on the History of Punk

Long before Fred Armisen became known as a SNL cast mem­ber or one half of the dynam­ic duo behind Port­landia, he was a drum­mer in a punk band called Trench­mouth. Based out of Chica­go, the band released four albums between 1988 and 1996 before dis­band­ing. In that time, Armisen did a lot of drum­ming and saw a *lot* of bands. Many would go on to grab the fame that seemed to con­stant­ly elude his band. In the above clip from The Tonight Show, Armisen’s expe­ri­ence is put to hilar­i­ous good use with a trip through indie and punk rock his­to­ry based on rhythm gui­tar styles.

He starts with a decent Lou Reed imi­ta­tion to locate the orig­i­nal source at the Vel­vet Under­ground, then up through the Ramones and Sex Pis­tols, even­tu­al­ly wind­ing its way through the ska-influ­enced pop-punk of Blink-182 and end­ing with the Strokes. Host Jim­my Fal­lon, as always, laughs non-stop through­out. And Armisen also name drops Sleater-Kin­ney as a know­ing wink to his Port­landia mate Car­rie Brown­stein.

If this sounds like a well-rehearsed bit, well, it is. But when Armisen does it live, it’s on the drum set. In the below clip, he makes almost the same stops along the way on his jour­ney. And it helped con­firm my sus­pi­cion that his post-punk gui­tar bit (“I am a neon light”) is his par­o­dy of Wire.

Armisen spoke to Sam Jones on his mono­chro­mat­ic Off Cam­era inter­view show about his years of punk strug­gle with Trench­mouth, which will help place his numer­ous band-based com­e­dy skits in the cor­rect con­text.

Don’t miss his clas­sic punk music SNL skits in the Relat­eds below. And if you are jonesing for the punk stylings of the hot, young Armisen, here’s live footage of Trench­mouth from 1992:

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Clas­sic Punk Rock Sketch­es from Sat­ur­day Night Live, Cour­tesy of Fred Armisen

Ian Rub­bish (aka Fred Armisen) Inter­views the Clash in Spinal Tap-Inspired Mock­u­men­tary

The Ori­gins of Spinal Tap: Watch the 20 Minute Short Film Cre­at­ed to Pitch the Clas­sic Mock­u­men­tary

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the Notes from the Shed pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.

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