Total Submissive – The ‘Friendly’ Face of Punk

by Miles Jones Jr.

You can tell that back in the 70s nobody had internet. Today, when we don’t like musical trends, we make them huge by bitching about them on social networks whilst listening to ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ by Van Morrison on Youtube. From One Direction to Bieber terrible acts marketed at blossoming teen girls have been huge exactly because everyone hates them. The mainstream has become the underground. Back in the 70s, however, there was only the Arpanet, being used by nerds in the military to download ASCII images of naked ladies, so rebelling against mainstream trends was much harder. The frustration built until old time rockers went mad and started stabbing their leather jackets with pins and studs and cutting their hair in wild configurations. They did not like disco, they did not like glam, they definitely hated Abba, they did not like make up and platform boots. They liked Mohawks, piercings and enjoying a concert by punching each other in the face. This, ladies and gents, is how punk was born.

Fast forward 40 years and where is punk now? Most of the progenitors have snuffed it, because apparently a lifestyle of conflict and drugs is a good way to die young. Of those who still survive, they probably just own barbecue restaurants in Atlanta, Georgia and worry more about their property portfolio than the counter culture.  Of the 90s revival guys, Green Day spend most of their time shopping for eye makeup, sometimes with Blink 182 and it seems only NOFX still carry themselves with that ‘no f*cks given’ attitude that summarises punk. The problem, you see, is as mentioned earlier. The mainstream is the underground. Rebellion is the new mainstream. So, enter the 2010’s version of punk – Establishment punk.

Total Submissive began their career back in 2008, as most of the world descended into financial crisis. Instead of the usual “the rich are screwing you, rebel, it’s all a con, really” punk act, Total Submissive came at us with a “If we all pull together and work hard, we can steer the economy in the right direction” attitude. They were the Dave Cameron’s Big Society punk rockers. They were supposed to be a refreshing new take on punk that, sadly, leaves us with a bitter taste in our mouths. That taste is coffee, and it is consumed at 8am as we come to work early to make sure we can keep this financial machine ticking.

With songs such as “Don’t Forget to File Your Taxes”, “Big Record Labels Aren’t That Bad Really” and “Have you Ever Considered Working For a Living” their can-do attitude was something new in punk, but with their signature heavy riffs and ska influence it just does not sit right and their new album “Rambunctiously Working Hard to Support the Economy” just comes across as facetious in light of things such as the Panama Papers, Wikileaks and the mass slaughter of the poor that occurred in Sevenoaks.

Their lyrics are insipid brown-nosing, and it should come as no surprise that all the members of the band attended private schools, and Oxford University. Lyrics such as “I can only look at you with scorn/all you do is bitch a lot and watch internet porn/how about you toil and mow my lawn/did you ever think it was your fault that you’re bloody born” come across as the bloated mumblings of an ancient aristocrat so inbred he has to use a rhyming dictionary because his brain can’t figure out a simplistic rhyme scheme. If this is the new counter-culture, I cannot see the masses getting on board. But that’s rather the point, isn’t it?

The truth is they are not very good. Punk is not a genre wrought in technicality and accomplishment, but raw aggression and energy. Passion, piss and vinegar have carried many a punk band that could only knock out two or three chords whilst smacked up at their gigs. We don’t want punk acts lighting cigars with £50 notes, we want them screaming unfairness and throwing faeces.

Overall, Rambunctiously Working Hard to Support the Economy gets a meagre bathfart out of five. It’s a wet and smelly accident provided by four of the most irritating, eminently punchable over-privileged wimps outside of politics. Now excuse me as I go listen to ‘Don’t Drag me Down’ and ‘Kill all the White Man’ on loop and dream of better days gone by.


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