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Punk gone postal
Primary Stylistic Influences:
Secondary Stylistic Influences:

New Wave's Darker and Edgier cousin (also a good deal more innovative in retrospect).

When punk began to have a defined sound about 1976/77, several bands decided to take the basic energy of punk (play your instruments yourself, regardless of technique, and don't copy others, Do It Yourself, start a record label), not indulge in rock clichés/posing (and that included spurning the Blues and the usual/Cliché Rock music and, in some cases, chordal progression and even Punk Rock itself) and experiment with more complex structures and rhythms, fusions with other genres and/or more synthesizers. These included, but were not limited to, Dub, Krautrock, Funk, and even Disco. Some of these bands included Joy Division, Gang of Four, The Pop Group, The Fall and Killing Joke.

With the genre's penchant for experimentation and willingness to borrow from other music genres, post-punk became to punk rock what Progressive Rock was to rock music.


Several other post-punk bands were formed from or after being part of regular punk bands; such as Magazine, formed by Howard Devoto after leaving the Buzzcocks, and Public Image Ltd., formed by John Lydon after leaving Sex Pistols, whilst fellow punk groups such as Wire and The Damned simply outgrew their early sound and became far more musically ambitious.

Even The Clash were inspired by its experimental nature at times (though they were far more conservative and "rockist" than the Post Punk bands, particularly considering their dismissal of the synthesizer), and also several mainstream New Wave artists that had major success in The '80s started out as Post-Punk acts (both the Eurythmics and The Human League started out in underground Post-Punk before going with their more successful Synth-Pop/Dance-Rock sounds. In a similar fashion Love and Rockets and My Bloody Valentine started in Post-Punk on their first albums before abandoning it and going with Danceable Alternative Goth and Shoegazing respectively).


It was mainly a British thing (most non-British bands failed to get much recognition), though in retrospective some American and Australian bands were well aware of the British scenes. Some of these included the American bands Pere Ubu (formed before the rise of Punk Rock) and Mission of Burma, Australia's The Birthday Party, and Ireland's U2. An American offshoot was No Wave, which was more focused on an anti-rock approach (not much dissimilar to that of Public Image Ltd., in the sense of wanting to wipe out Rock music and start from scratch), musical extremism, and art dilettantism. This included James Chance, Mars, Lydia Lunch, Swans, and several other bands, mostly from New York City.

The important thing one has to notice about Post Punk is that, especially in retrospective, it's more a musical aesthetic than a genre with a set of rules.

Eventually, post-punk petered out when the original bands turned away from its sound and went in several musical directions. Among others, Joy Division changed their name to New Order after lead singer Ian Curtis's suicide and adopted a more synth-driven Alternative Dance style, Talking Heads and Ultravox became new-wave pop bands, and The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees and many other bands became Goth Rock pioneers. Post-Punk was also a huge inspiration for the Alternative Rock of the 80's.

Recently, post-punk has had a bit of a revival in indie rock as of late, with bands such as Interpol, Modest Mouse, The Libertines and Franz Ferdinand having commercial success. When people talk about more commercial, mainstream indie rock, or so-called "NME bands" (due to the magazine promoting these bands heavily), this is frequently the kind of thing they mean. However, a case could be made that almost all of these later bands missed the point of Post Punk, as Simon Reynolds claimed in his books "Rip It Up And Start Again" and "Totally Wired", since they didn't progress and evolve in the end, instead going backwards and basically emulating their musical heroes and influences.

Not to be confused with Post-Cyberpunk, which is a science-fiction story genre.

A list of major or influential post-punk bands and artists (in alphabetical order):

A shorter list of post-punk revival bands: