During his interview for this week’s ”Music” feature, Disco:Hate a.k.a. Casey Colby made an interesting observation. He was discussing his favorite punk band, L.A.’s still-standing (with its umpteenth lineup change) Fear and its legendarily confrontational lead singer Lee Ving. Ving tops Disco:Hate’s list of great unsung singers. Colby said of Fear: “I felt like everyone in that band was way too talented to be playing punk music, but they were still playing it.”
A “eureka!” bulb went off in my noggin. I’ve always admired punk more as an influence than as a genre by itself. Were Colby’s words the key to a sustained respect for punk – an ongoing sentimental shoulder-hug for amateur musicians whose talents improved after a million hours of onstage screaming but who were scared to leave the adolescent shtick behind? Eventually, the great ones grabbed a life raft into maturity – Patti Smith refined her poetry with a political edge, The Talking Heads mastered world rhythms, and Blondie thrived from pure pop reinvention. Disco:Hate, who at 24 has studied jazz for years and can play almost any instrument you throw at him, clearly senses the sad trap of musical rebellion with an expired “Use By” sticker.