Intro to punk rock: 5 bands to start with


Collegian | Ava Kerzic

Christian Arndt, Staff Reporter

Editor’s Note: Read the Spanish version of this article here.

Want to get into a new genre of music? Try out punk rock.


The genre is deeply rooted in individuality, social commentary and self-expression. Punk bands take small topics like taking a beach trip as the basis of a song while tackling bigger topics like police brutality and government corruption.

Regardless of what you’re looking for in punk rock, here is a comprehensive list of five bands that cover the wide spectrum of this genre.

1. Ramones

Arguably one of the most recognizable bands off of this list, the Ramones have numerous classics under their belt. Sporting matching leather jackets and the same styled haircuts, their look is almost as iconic as their sound.

What not many people know, however, is the level of depth in their discography. Don’t be mistaken — the Ramones were undoubtedly punk, but the pop undertones of their music are very apparent, which gives their songs plenty of replayability. With catchy instrumentals and lyrics involving love, death and violence, the Ramones are a great starting point for getting into punk rock.

Recommended tracks: “Rockaway Beach,” “Chain Saw,” “Loudmouth,” “Havana Affair,” “Let’s Dance”

2. Fugazi

Fugazi is a phenomenal blend of experimental instrumentation with the same bite as punk rock. Their use of hardcore punk with a twist of math and indie works together just as well as bread and butter.

Ian MacKaye, who was initially in a punk band called Minor Threat, brought his roots of hardcore punk to the table and gave Fugazi a much sharper and more brutal sound. Their social commentary, unique sound and overall message have cemented themselves in punk rock history.

Recommended tracks: “Waiting Room,” “Blueprint,” “Bad Mouth,” “Glue Man,” “Shut the Door”

3. Dead Kennedys

In terms of importance to the punk rock genre, Dead Kennedys are easily near the top. Their push for social commentary in their tracks is very apparent and even lines up with the current political climate.


For example, the song “Police Truck” dives into the topic of police brutality against people who are unable to fight for themselves. Even with such potent messages, they still manage to create fantastic punk rock songs that stick with you. To put the cherry on top, Jello Biafra, the lead singer, has one of the most unique and iconic voices in Punk Rock.

Recommended tracks: “Police Truck,” “Insight,” “Holiday in Cambodia”

4. Black Flag

Black Flag has had numerous stints with different singers, but their most notable and popular has to be the Henry Rollins era. The anger in Rollins’ voice is hard to ignore and only gives his lyrics more of a punch in each of their songs.

Not only do they perform at a breakneck speed accompanied by plenty of anger, but they also have songs grounded in spoken word as well. These characteristics give their songs plenty of depth and dynamic, which is refreshing when listening to one of their albums to completion.

Recommended tracks: “My War,” “Police Story,” “Rise Above,” “TV Party,” “Six Pack”

5. Bad Brains

The best way to describe Bad Brains’ music is if you gave a lot of caffeine and instruments to hyperactive cheetahs.

If you are looking for a band that operates and plays faster than a fighter jet, look no further. Bad Brains is a true cornerstone of punk rock, and surprisingly, they also combine elements of reggae in their records. They bring a level of energy and speed to punk that is rarely seen.

The lead singer, Paul “H.R.” Hudson, has a very recognizable and distinguished voice in punk rock. His screams bleed right through the heavily distorted instruments accompanied by pounding drums, giving Bad Brains its iconic sound.

Recommended tracks: “Attitude,” “Sailin’ On,” “Big Take Over”

Reach Christian Arndt at or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.