The Clash The Soul of Punk By Andre Torres
By the mid 70s, big rock bands of the day were losing their musical edge enjoying the excesses of star status and giving credence to the sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll idiom. That excess spilled into the studio with artists recording concept albums that encouraged extended noodling and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce. But there were those who had seen enough, and were determined to express themselves on their own terms, by any means necessary. It didn’t matter whether you could really play well; it was all about doing you. With the Sex Pistols leading the charge, The Clash hit with a revolutionary sound that turned the world on its head and changed the landscape of music forever. Anyone who heard what they were doing knew it was the future, and had no choice but to switch up their style appropriately. It was the sound of hope, and meant that anything was possible. In bleak 70s London, it was just the glimmer any kid in a band needed. Remarkably, the same still holds true today.
One of the true pioneering bands of the punk movement, The Clash showed what could be done when you take the DIY approach of punk and use it as a springboard to channel other musical ideas into the mix. Mixing punk with reggae, dub, ska, jazz, early hip-hop, and the sound of downtown New York’s dance and punk-funk scenes, The Clash were able to run through a myriad of sounds that would lay the foundation for much of modern underground music in the next several decades. It wasn’t that they were just covering Lee Scratch Perry tracks in a punk style or trying to bite old school MCs, they were internalizing reggae, dub, hip-hop and beyond, then coming with their own fresh take to create a whole new sound entirely. So many of their genre-bending experiments became the blueprint for whole musical movements that are still popular today, whether it’s Bad Brains’ reggae-informed hardcore or U2’s punk brand of arena rock. The Clash put the soul in punk, infusing the music with a level of humanity that few bands achieve in any genre. Much like Black and Latino kids who turned a hopeless situation in the South Bronx into a worldwide phenomenon known as hip-hop, The Clash understood punk’s potential for turning misery into art. Instead of the typical fuck-the-world punk approach to life, The Clash realized their revolutionary sonic aesthetic could serve as bedrock to carry their politically charged assault on everything from the aristocracy to Western imperialist agendas. They brought a new dimension to punk, seeing beyond its limitations and injecting unparalleled political consciousness into their music. More than anyone in their sphere, they were the true embodiment of punk’s rebellious anti-establishment approach to life. True architects of modern music, The Clash reached beyond song and continue to inspire generations with their messages of resistance.
This season Supreme will present a select group of T-Shirts, and a Hooded Sweatshirt, created in conjunction with The Clash.
Available in-store and online on April 15th. Available in Japan on April 29th.
Andre Torres is Editor-In-Chief of Wax Poetics