Last night I finally watched the first Decline of Western Civilisation in its entirety.
About 6 months ago I was talking to a friend of mine outside a birthday party in the early hours and we began to talk about our art. Both me and him spent our late teens following hardcore punk around central and greater London and attended gigs almost weekly. Although we rarely got to see the music we were actually passionate about we were dedicated to watching likeminded individuals performing their versions of it. He went on to join bands and get more heavily involved in the ‘scene’ and I generally became more interested in collecting other types of records and playing them in pubs. As he described his work and its anti establishment stance he began to explain how that ‘punk’ attitude never really left him. Although we both agreed that it was an extremely cliched and cheesy thing to say – it was undeniably true. I have always employed a punk inspired ethos across my graphic design work and almost without realising it, it has crept into my art. Although my influence from it only really manifests itself in an aesthetic, purely referential way I would like to explore the attitude behind that visual language.
This film is a great intro to what was going on in the early 80’s in LA in and around the brackets of Hardcore Punk. I by no means think all of these bands are worth listening to nor do I agree with all of the things they say (some of them aren’t even remotely likeable) it is however an entertaining insight. Highlights include Black Flag, Circle Jerks and Slash magazine but when Fear play at the end it is difficult to watch (Interestingly though – Despite how repellent they are to the crowd and the singer telling any A + Rs in the venue to die they secured a record deal and a spot on Saturday Night Live as a result of the film).