Punk is not only not dead, it’s getting a fresh burst of energy, thanks to The Unglamorous Music Project, a female collective in Leicester.
In accordance with punk tradition, musical ability is not a primary concern.
Shockingly, life experience is.
With five, six, and seven decades worth, Unglamorous Music Project participants have no illusions about how women their age – with the possible exception of Patti Smith – are perceived.
Rather than content themselves with crumbs and conform to societal expectations, they are going hard in newly formed bands like The Wonky Portraits, Dada Women, BOILERS, Velvet Crisis and The Verinos, above.
“This is definitely not ‘cutesy grannies have a go at punk’ band,” BOILERS’ Allison “Fish” Dunne emphasized to The Guardian:
I’ve got no fucks to give any more about what anyone thinks of me…We write our own music and we’ve got a lot to say about everything we’re angry about. I’ve been enraged for years.
The Verinos’ 61-year-old Ruth Miller, founder of The Unglamorous Music Project, told RNZ how she tapped into an unexpectedly rich reservoir of previously unacted upon mature female musical impulse, when she mentioned her plan to form a band to the friend with whom she drank coffee and talked politics.
The friend confessed that she’d long wanted to take up the drums, and on the strength of that comment was drafted as drummer for the Verinos, after watching one instructional YouTube video.
A “really cool looking older woman” with “sticking up hair” whom Miller approached in a restaurant, asking, “Excuse me, are you in a band?” earned her place by answering “No, but I’ve always wanted to learn bass.”
I think as a woman, you hit a particular age and you think, “Well, I don’t care what anyone thinks. It’s my life, and I really want to do music again, and it doesn’t matter whether people like it or not. They don’t have to listen…”
But they do like it! It’s incredibly appealing, that idea of seeing a group of older women who are just themselves.
Miller believes that rather than paying for private lessons and concentrating on the “proper” way to play music, beginners should let go of their inhibitions and have a go at playing communally.
The principles of the Unglamorous Music Project spell it out even more explicitly:
- Choose an instrument that appeals and fits in with others
- Find helpful people to lend you stuff and support unconditionally
- Form a duo or band with other beginners straightaway
- Explore very simple rhythms and sounds
- Write your own words about your life
- Sing great tunes and backing vocals
- Play your song in a confident, cool, challenging way
- Get encouragement and applause from friends
- Start performing to audiences as soon as possible
Perhaps an unspoken principle, given the Project’s emphasis on fun, is assuming Ramones-style stage names, a la Vim, Vi, Volcano, Vixen and VeeDee Verino.
If you’re inspired to join the movement, mark your calendar for March, 8, International Women’s Day and join Miller’s Facebook group, 66 Days to your Debut.
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– Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto and Creative, Not Famous Activity Book. Follow her @AyunHalliday.
This is the best thing my life has ever had the privalage to read… BEFORE I even read it.. the heart and sole of punk rock in one amazing picture, amazing women, and you can’t go wrong with punk, GOD SAVE THE QUEEN…
This song is stupid, I’m a real punker, and this makes us look bad. Punk isn’t all about offense. Grow up and make our scene look good