How To Write Punk Songs

Punk Rock is different from every other type of music in a lot of ways, and it is truly a dying breed of music if you are actually talking about authentic punk rock.

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Since nobody had it in them to put this up there I will. Punk Rock is different from every other type of music in a lot of ways, and it is truly a dying breed of music if you are actually talking about authentic punk rock.

It really all depends on what type of punk you want to write. Ill try to explain political, humorous, lyrical (think Bouncing Souls, Broken Anchor Diesel Boy, Sofa King Kool), angry, primitive punk (basically anything from the old days), and pop-punk (yes I hate the term too, but that doesn't make it go away).

Political punk (Anti-Flag, Bad Religion, ect.) For the most part isn't too difficult if you are interested of kno much of the subject. It helps to show\w a little anger because that is what it's kinda about. You can mix in the feelings that you have about something currently occurring in your life, then compare and contrast it with what is going on around the world, nation ect. Using big and intellectual words helps you to prove your point in a way that makes you sound maybe a bit more prudent then in actuality. Rhyming words with the suffix tion in the end seems pretty easy (i.e. emancipation, vindication).

Lyrical punk might be a little more difficult, for those of you who refuse that they have feelings. Sh** happens, and you might want to express yourself. This doesn't make you emo for those of you who are emophobes (like me). You can express that you are pissed off and want revenge if you want, or you can sing about the way that things are in your life good of bad (those of you who are fans of philosophy will like this one). It is all really up to you and what is important to you. You can express what's in your heart w/out sounding lame, many people's songs could even be better (like You Don't Care Nothing, Rancid). I feel that every good artist writes a least one heart-felt song in their lifespan. It is nice with punk rock because heavy and fast playing can help balance the lyrics to make it sound less "complainy.

"Angry" punk can span across a lot of area. Misfits have established ghoul punk or whatever you want to call it. That kind of punk can only be explored, while still remaining to sound alright by a few, in my opinion. Like I kno that I cant pull off a devil's lock and look cool. You don't necessarily have to be angry to write this kind of stuff, but it helps a lot. Comparing dark images to that of you feelings can be a nice way to express yourself. For example, I was hurt by a guy, so I wrote my werewolf song (tearing ppl to shreds, who dare to pass me blah blah blah)....yeah it was like the first song I had ever written... leave me alone! Other types Atheist Anthem, by Leftover Crack and things having to do with religious beliefs are pretty self-explanatory, just vent about what you feel. It helps to be sad of pissed of at something. If you're having one of those days, then things just seem to flow a lot better.

Humorous punk (NOFX, ect) is the most fun (I think) to write, but it is also the most difficult. You actually need talent in order to write a good funny punk song (or at least a good idea). Things that people think about but never really say (most things are funny not because they aren't true, but because they put things really bluntly and obnoxiously). Of course sarcasm and satire also work well, so do funny voices (think Not A Crass Song, Anti-Flag). My best advise is to just be a dumb-a** and sing about what you feel like and completely undermine political corectedness.

If you want to sound like old-school punk (Institutionalized, Suicidal Tendencies Of Puke On Cops, NOFX), then just tune your guitar slightly off and start yelling. Basically just have loud belligerent fun. You can put any type of lyrics in, and just use basic power chords and you are set. If you can also throw down some good solos, then you've got it. If you don't have solo capabilities, just figure out some picking patterns along with the chords.

Punk music is easy to write because its mostly lyrical. If you know power chords, then find some cool patters and go off from this. Develop some kind of riff to play in the background of as lead or just to have some variation. I'm sorry that I cant tell you much about writing the music, but I have limited knowledge on guitar methods and punk is so dam* easy that if you just tinker around a bit you will figure it out.

Singing isn't too hard, but since I'm a girl it might be a little different. I try to use a deep raspy voice, on tune really helps with this, kids. Even though its punk, it makes it a lot easier to be able to sing on key. Practice makes perfect. I used to sing like a dieing parrot, but now I'm pretty good. Back when I couldn't get on key, I'd just sing off key louder and it actually helped me find the right note.

I'm sorry if I couldn't be more help with this whole thing, but I'm completely self-taught. Ive been listening to punk for almost a decade and it's a large part of my life. My best advise is to just follow your passions. Don't write music to get chicks of to look cool. That's not at all what punk is about.

Email me @ EmilyontheHill@msn.com

138 comments sorted by best / new / date

    freebirdisepic
    Bad Religion provides social commentary, some of which is political. They also write songs that go a lot deeper than just the typical 3 powerchords and people screaming. Their lead singer has a ***ing PhD. Good article to help get people started, but not in depth enough to be truely informative. That would come with more detail regarding a certain subject, though.
    days_to_daze
    what is this, a witch hunt? let's hold her head under water untill she confesses that she's not a punk! dude, at least she TRIED to write SOMETHING. that's a lot more than i can say for some of you on here. instead of trashing her article, why don't you go write one yourselves if you can do so much better! P.S. i really don't think that any of you are punks, considering that you're obviously wealthy enough to have a computer to even BE on here and criticize her article. last time i checked, punks were poor, cuz they refused to live by mainstream ideals of getting jobs and such...
    well said man... i think that alot of you are guys are being retarded.. like honestly grow up...if you are writing a page about punk you can't list every good punk band... and everyone here who is whining about not putting black flag, ramones, sex pistols and the clash (who are by the way some of the best known punk bands and perhaps the only ones that you have every heard of)on here, who cares! really! it was a decent article and she made an effort to explain many of the people who dont have s clue about what its about.. really... critisizing her for not being a punk shows just how much you arent punks...Punks dont care about "posers"... thats all
    cryan2
    ei!are you making your own version of punk? making NOFX a part of your little list of punk bands.. well i guess you really dont no true punk not including pioneers of punk like Sex Pistols,Ramones, Black Flag and the Clash?i dont even think you knew them at all...i really didnt learn anything in here i just wished that you should just put some chords and shit here,this article sux and you suck!peace out bollock..
    cryan2
    ei!are you making your own version of punk? making NOFX a part of your little list of punk bands.. well i guess you really dont no true punk not including pioneers of punk like Sex Pistols,Ramones, Black Flag and the Clash?i dont even think you knew them at all...i really didnt learn anything in here i just wished that you should just put some chords and shit here,this article sux and you suck!peace out bollock..
    cryan2
    ei!are you making your own version of punk? making NOFX a part of your little list of punk bands.. well i guess you really dont no true punk not including pioneers of punk like Sex Pistols,Ramones, Black Flag and the Clash?i dont even think you knew them at all...i really didnt learn anything in here i just wished that you should just put some chords and shit here,this article sux and you suck!peace out bollock..
    Zamboni
    DudeZ wrote: THE USED SUCK.....
    No one gives a shit if you think the used suck. Give constructive comments/critisism on the article or don't post. Warned.
    days_to_daze
    Sex pistols aren't a punk band, they're a shitty pop rock band with a little out of tune bitch on vocals.
    oh ya.. i just noticed that... you wanna talk about punk pioneers? dont say that the sex pistols are "pop-rock" ... pop-rock is like simple plan.... and last time i checked, simple plan wasnt the band that seriously brought the punk musical asthetics to youht music, or dropped the first coupple of F-bombs on the radio... or sang about anarchy and the queen...
    2ndslash
    the sex pistols are more punk than any of the shit like greenday or good charlotte you have out today. pop rock my arse if they were pop they wouldnt have took drugs and been banned from most places and drank and smoked.
    StuartR
    Also we dont just want people playing the same stuff over and over again, if you can only play power chords then go away and learn some other stuff then write something new and interesting.
    hobophobic
    ...yes im deffensive. sorry to GG allen DI, Agent Orange, Ramones, Sex Pistols, angry samones, clash, blah blah blah. Would it make ne of u f*ckers feel better if i told you that i stole this computer, goeing through 7 keyboards to write this article at 5 in the morning when i was on PCP? Ill admit that this is my moms computer. But for all those kisw who say how can i label punk, youre labeling me, 4 craps sake. im not a punk im a person who likes punk, polotics, n my guitar. The article WAS piontess. I wouldnt like someone to tell me how to write songs, but I wouldn't have read it. I didnt mean to put those bands into generes, just as examples. Next time ill put up a bigger disclaimer for u soccer moms. I agree bad religions lead singer is a genious and he should be the pres. to sum it up, punk is what you make of it. Theres a lot of bands that kick ass, that i could have put up, but i figured the ppl who wanted 2 kno how to write punk might not know the exploding **** dolls, or texas terri and the stiff ones, csk or beefcake (ect). you evil kids need to take a vallium and watch the care bears or somethin. And thnx 4 the complements to u kind kids. thus ends my rebuttle. and "help is on the way" lol yours adoringly, Emily
    dont abandon me
    The condensed version of 'How to write punk songs': verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus.
    BrianApocalypse
    Sex pistols aren't a punk band, they're a shitty pop rock band with a little out of tune bitch on vocals.
    moomin
    ss311 wrote: punk was about being unique. when everyone started wearing a safety pin in their ear, it got dumb, it wasn't punk. It was a pretty good article though....
    You're extremely right dude.
    newyorkdolls138
    littledrmmr4 wrote: punk died w/ the sex pistols
    THE SEX PISTOLS ARE OVERRATED!!!! Get that into your little emo heads.
    rusted embrace
    can't we just get away from arguements about who is what genre or why they are, aren't, or suck for one week?
    rubysoho8779
    ^ i agree with you, PunkRawkFreak. so what if its a little lame, at least its the truth.
    PunkRawkFreak
    Brian Apocalypse: I could write an article 100 times better than this, and it would have slight accuracy as well, and not be about bands that aren't actually punk at all, exception being the misfits.
    Hey buddy... I havnt seen you post it yet so shut up... and as lame as this article sounds... its quite true so you can't bag it.
    eraldal
    Ive noticed something very weird. If the first user to comment says something nice, then everybody else says so too. But if he says he didnt like it, then everybody else hates it. You (the author) probaly got away with it just because you mentioned that you are a girl. The article is Ok, but only 1 star and half.
    Diceman42
    no sex pistols? no clash? ramones? velvet underground? iggy pop? **** you. and the mindless pap that is pseudo-punk.
    Dogwillhunt
    So what you're saying is I don't have to use any of my musical talent to write a punk song? Just play 3 or 4 chords, sing out of tune, write about antiretrobutiondisestabli shmentism (whether I know anything about it or not) and pretend that the whole world's against me? Did anyone even mention that punk guitarists only downpick when they strum? Flea used to play bass in punk bands and they told him to use a pick and he thought it was ridiculous. Hmmm... maybe he's on to something, or maybe he grew up.
    Coheed_Fan105
    kelso12345 wrote: Hahhahahaha.. A guide on how to write a punk song..... I can do that in one compound sentence. Ok, so you need four chords, some anti-[insert establishment here] lyrics, a drummer, and a bassist to play root notes. That was hard. i like the music but that is true
    sooooo true
    kelso12345
    Hahhahahaha.. A guide on how to write a punk song..... I can do that in one compound sentence. Ok, so you need four chords, some anti-[insert establishment here] lyrics, a drummer, and a bassist to play root notes. That was hard. i like the music but that is true
    americanmovie23
    HOW TO WRITE A PUNK SONG 1) scream about "THE MAN" even though he left town or scream about how your mother won't let you stay out past 10 oclock on school nights 2) play three chords over and over again.....or you can be creative and use four chords 3)..... 4)Grown Insane Acne to pretend that you dont care 5) put that penis in your ass and rock away
    mrbounce
    It's funny how many people personally insulted her. Would this happen over another genre of music?
    WhatIDontKnow
    Man.....forgive me if what I say isn't coherent, half drunk at the moment. I'm only 20, got into the scene at around 13, started off in the godforsaken band of Blink, moved to NOFX, Bad Religion, Clash(101ers for all you real lovers ), Ramons and Misfits a little later. Haven't looked back. As far as I can see, I'm as elitest as all you buggers. But give the girl some credit, she tried, she expressed herself and that makes her a little more punk than any of you people who flammed her down. She gave her views, she wanted to say something and she did. Sure the Sex Pistols were a mainstream band formed by a record exec(Too drunk to remember correctly, correct if wrong) But they did step on some toes and seriously showed that they didn't give a frak. NOFX started a serious trend in terms of being punk influenced and hitting a humorous note on that too. I think they're punk, but what I think doesn't matter except to me, and well that's all that is important to me anyway For all you guy who wanted to flame her and express your hormonal imbalances and random angst, go you! You've officially brought the punk scene down to the moronic idiots they all think we are. So she didn't mention the old school bands who started it all. Last I heard, you didn't have to like them or even know about them to be punks. We are what we are....most of you would probably think I'm a poser and try and to beat the hell out of me, go for it, after I kicked your ass or you kicked mine, I'd grab you up for a drink and maybe we could go bang the heads of some seriously dumb dudes who deserved it. Most of you guys will grow up and become mature enough to accept the differences in others, that's more punk(in my opinion) than what your screaming is. If her article is bullshit or not isn't important. She tried, she put some effort into it...and she gave it a go....give her a break. Punk isn't music, it isn't lyrics, it's not politics, it is what we are and want to be. I don't care what any of you think of me, I wanted to say my piece, be done with it and let it go. "Label me and you negate" Label me whatever the hell you want, I'm who I am and proud of it. Go Emily, don't let the morons drag you down. (Coherency of post not assured due to alcohol consumption) This is directed at the morons not the intelligent, you know who you are.
    shaad90
    by my whole knowledge of punk, punk songs are short, takes like 2-3 minutes, and punk isn't easy to play, i mean, bands like belvedere, forus, this is a standoff, less than jake, they're hard to play. there's just one last thing: GOOD PUNK IS MELODIC FAST PUNK, and i hate that always when i say that i'm a punk musician, they ask me about sex pistols and ramones, i mean, for me, punk have to be fast, arctic monkeys and the strokes are faster than them
    Punk Sean
    i read some of the comments there, I think its pathetic that any musician can just brush off an entire music genre, I play in a metal band, and take great pride in the fact that my influences musically and lyrically are punk, I feel the article could be more informative, on the song-writing process, but other than that it was pretty good.
    rottenxavior13
    kat10star wrote: the_who wrote:You wrote about punk without even mentioning the Clash or the Ramones?? thats what i was thinking!!!or the sex pistols....
    sex pistols rock
    SirGarbageMann
    OMG! Punks only play 3 chords!! How outrageous!!Punks should dhave played 10 minute solos like everyone else was doing in the 70s! Woo! glad to see punk still pisses people off to this day
    paquiquinho
    XxPunkMafiaxX wrote: why is everyone trashing punk?? its not techinical, but its ****ing hard to write a good punk song. theres loadz of wannabe punk bands around 2day, but they all fail coz they arent real punks. just posers. Metal songs are easier 2 write. lyrically anyway. and to the person that said about bassists playing root notes....ever lisened 2 Green Day?? or any proper punk bands (im not calling GD proper punk-to save arguments). they use scales and underlying melodies on the bass, not friggin root notes. thats for indie twats who cant play
    Errm I love punk rock and that's why I think what you just sayed it's stupid. Have you ever heard of The Ramones? The bass plays the roots. Is that a bad think? NO! Why? BECAUSE IT SOUNDS GOOD! Geez As for your article, it's not bad if you need help with lyrics but that's not what I needed. So a 6/10 IMO.
    XxPunkMafiaxX
    why is everyone trashing punk?? its not techinical, but its ****ing hard to write a good punk song. theres loadz of wannabe punk bands around 2day, but they all fail coz they arent real punks. just posers. Metal songs are easier 2 write. lyrically anyway. and to the person that said about bassists playing root notes....ever lisened 2 Green Day?? or any proper punk bands (im not calling GD proper punk-to save arguments). they use scales and underlying melodies on the bass, not friggin root notes. thats for indie twats who cant play