The Subgenres of Punk Music – Part 1

In order to fully get a grasp of punk music and its very nature, it’s vital to have an awareness of all of its forms. Punk may have at one time been all about the Ramones and the Sex Pistols but that’s no longer the case. Punk comes in numerous categories with various sounds and influences.

Anarchy Punk

A single song links back to the beginnings of this subgenre. That would be Anarchy in the UK, the debut single of the Sex Pistols. It was the very first time that anarchy and punk would connect, and it would result in the creation of anarchy punk.

There’s more to anarchy punk than mere anarchy, however. It’s also heavily influenced by a political stance. Its words often convey opinions regarding political issues, such as anti-government and animal rights.

An English band by the name of Crass were responsible for the movement by preaching the DIY movement and communalism. They believed that such punk bands as the Sex Pistols were merely music industry puppets and that the way to get an opinion out there was to be in control of your music. That belief resulted in the formation of Crass Music, which was the first home of such anarchy punk bands as KUKL (featuring a young Bjork) and Flux of Pink Indians.

While Crass used pacifism to preach political change, numerous other bands in the genre believed in an “any means necessary” approach to political change.

Street Punk

Also referred to as Oi, street punk began in the late 1970’s. Targeting inner-city residents and the working class, it was a reaction to early punk music. The original street punk bands believed that those bands, along with their fans, were nothing more than the pampered upper middle class and that it was impossible for their songs to relate to blue-collar punk.

This subgenre is the punk equivalent to Gangsta Rap. It delivers a harsh sound, with early street punk lyrics tackling police brutality and poverty. Another overriding theme of street punk is the promotion of unity in the working class. Social issues and parties are every bit as likely to be a part of it today.

Skinheads remain a large part of the punk scene among the working class. Just when street punk was starting out, they were being recruited by the National Front and other racist outfits. This conveyed the false impression that street punk was an overtly racist movement. Most of the bands reacted by making their anti-racist feelings known.


A combination of punk rock and 50’s rockabilly music, psychobilly takes its name from a Johnny Cash song by the name of One Piece at a Time when the man in black refers to a “psychobilly Cadillac”.

Psychobilly is also indebted to 1950’s pop culture. The subgenre’s overriding themes are those that were regarded as being underground in the 50’s, such as horror and science-fiction films. Psychobilly bands often perform vintage organs and upright bass as opposed to contemporary instruments. And the fans of the genre often wear 50’s fashion.