PLAYLIST: Jeremy Saulnier's Favourite Punk Records
, October 3rd, 2016 12:59
The director Of Green Room picks some of his favourite records from the genre
Jeremy Saulnier emerged from the East Coast US punk scene to make his first feature, Murder Party, but in 2007, made an big impact with his Coen Brothers-esque revenge thriller, Blue Ruin. Which played all the festivals, and got a huge reaction for a indie film with a tiny budget. This success cemented his status as a director to watch out for. Now he has delivered on this promise with Green Room.
The original plan was to set the film in Delaware, where Saulnier grew up, but as one of the producers was based in Oregon, he began to think about Northwestern possibilities. When he looked into it, he found that Oregon had originally been founded as a “racist utopia,” with no Blacks allowed in the state until 1926. Contrary to its reputation as a liberal state, Oregon has survivalists in the woods, support for events like the right-wing Bundy occupation, and since the 1990s, murderous skinhead and neo-Nazi gangs.
Against this background, Saulnier decided to make a punk-rock horror film set in a backwoods club run by neo-Nazis, led by Patrick Stewart. Hardcore band The Ain’t Rights takes a gig there for cash, and then makes the mistake of opening with a cover of The Dead Kennedys’ 'Nazi Punks Fuck Off.' Before they have time to escape, they are caught up in a murder, and a standoff between the band and the skinheads ensues.
Most of the film was shot in and around Mt Hood National Forest, adding extra Deliverance-style menace in a vast landscape that would be hard to find your way out of. It’s by far the best punk film since Repo Man, the high water mark of the genre so far, and as a thriller it packs some great performances. It was quite a ballsy choice for Patrick Stewart at this point in his career, and was sadly Anton Yelchin’s last film before his recent death.
Saulnier talks us through 13 of his favourite punk records, and his answers are as short and snappy as the music they contain.
Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables
This was my introduction to punk/hard-core. I was on a cross-country road trip with my family, and a kid played me the record when we stopped at his parents’ house in Colorado. I didn't quite know how to process the music, but I knew I needed to take it home, so I dubbed over my Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack cassette and went on my way. The experience of hearing it for the first time—the sound, the setting, the electricity—is seared into my brain. This was 1985, and almost 30 years later I was able to feature a cover of their song, 'Nazi Punks Fuck Off,' in Green Room. Talk about full circle!
Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols
Having had my first taste of punk, I asked my mother drive me to the record store to purchase another cassette. Seemed like Never Mind the Bollocks... was the one to get. It had great riffs and is very accessible, or so I thought. I tried playing it at a 6th grade school picnic, and the rest of the kids voted me down and ejected the tape from the boom box. My first brush with 'punks against squares'!
JFA – Blatant Localism EP
I was a skateboarder growing up in the mid-to-late eighties. JFA were among the first 'Skate Punk' bands, so I felt obligated to like them. The first time I heard their record I thought it was terrible, so I forced myself to listen to their albums until I started to like them. I haven't listened to them since 1989 or so.
Suicidal Tendencies – Suicidal Tendencies
I shoplifted this cassette from a used record and tape exchange. Played it constantly, and it had this great 'teenage angst' to the whole thing. I dug the Venice, California vibe very much, especially Mike Muir's vocals. This band was also big in '80s skate culture.
Cro-Mags – Age of Quarrel
I fell in love with this ultra-heavy hard-core sound from NYC. There was so much raw energy in the music; the iconic atomic blast image on the cover was apt.
Bad Brains – Bad Brains
Among the all-time best D.C. hardcore bands, but also the first. Never saw them live, and that's a big regret. Preferred their fast punk to their reggae, but the combination created a truly singular style.
Gut Instinct – Disturbing the Peace
This was a tough-guy hard-core band from Baltimore, Maryland. Really responded to how heavy it was without being cheesy. "Rat Bastard" was a crowd favourite. Was able to catch them at a reunion show in D.C. and was blown away. Really rocked the crowd.
Rorschach – Autopsy
This is a bit of a cheat, as this album is a compilation of Rorschach's entire recorded history (as of 1995). But I was introduced to them a bit late and just bought the one album. It was a grating, heavy hybrid of punk, hardcore, metal and art rock. The drumming was phenomenal.
Fear – The Record
Lee Ving and Fear were featured in Penelope Spheeris' The Decline of Western Civilization, and so made a big impression on my friends and me (pre-Internet, so finding and renting VHS tapes like this were big events for us). Lee Ving's live performances were almost like standup comedy. He was the best at playing the heel. Provided a welcome beer swilling, LA sunburned, foul-mouthed alternative to some of the more straight-edged, socially conscious music of the era.
Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense
Not outright punk, but a damn fine album and among my all-time favourites. This is what I listened to when I wanted a break from all the damned noise!
Minor Threat – Out of Step
Just an all-time classic. Defined the hardcore movement for me, but I missed seeing the band live (I was of the Fugazi era). I was even straight-edge for a few years. Will never forget the time the hardcore band I was in was recording a demo at Inner Ear studios is Arlington, Virginia, and Ian MacKaye walked in on us. Awestruck, we were too nervous to keep playing in his presence. Twenty plus years later, we were able to license a Minor Threat t-shirt for Green Room, worn throughout the film by Pat, played by the dearly departed Anton Yelchin.
Poison Idea - Feel the Darkness
This Portland-based punk/hardcore band was the favourite band of one of my bandmates growing up.
The Misfits - Walk Among Us
Likely my all-time favourite punk band. They fused punk and blues with cinema and horror culture. That perfectly defines my youth and my mission with Green Room.
Green Room is available on Blu-Ray and DVD now