This past Friday, some friends and I were out at the bars and decided to finish off our evening at a club (it was The Brat (gotta love a place that can smell over-poweringly like disinfectant while still being so tangibly dirty, in more ways than one (I’m looking at you, several couples making out on the dance floor (Inception joke)))). Shortly after our arrival, the DJ announced his intention to schuck the typical top 40 nonsense in favor of atypical and old school material, including some punk. He then proceeded to play “All the Small Things.”
Now, obviously this is patently ridiculous (even though everyone loved it, myself included), because while, yes, Enema of the State is 12 years old, to ascribe the moniker of “Old School Punk” to it is to demonstrate a definite misunderstanding of old school punk. But it got me thinking about the album, and the next day while at home, I gave it a listen for the first time in who knows how many years.
It still holds up for the most part. Unfortunate juvenilia runs a little rampant, but I actually found profundity and maturity where I hadn’t noticed it before (maybe because I wanted to find it, not necessarily because it’s actually there). “What’s My Age Again?” skirts childishness, but is actually just self-aware enough to recognize that the protagonist’s actions are not befitting an adult. “Going Away to College” is a surprisingly deft examination of late-teenage angst and the aforementioned “Small Things” is a bouncy and touching song about the little moments that can make a relationship so great.
But despite all of this, there is no denying the intensely thick layer of sugar that coats the album from front to back (“Adam’s Song” aside). Enema is a slick album, one that was manufactured for mass consumption, and to genuinely describe it as “punk” is misguided. And yet, this was the album that marked my head-first dive into that wonderful thing we know as punk rock. I had spent junior high listening to rap and nü-metal (I am not proud of this), and when blink came along, I finally had something that actually stirred something inside me.
Do I wish my first punk album was something other than Enema of the State? Something like Milo Goes To College, Never Mind The Bollocks, London Calling, or Zen Arcade? Sure. Absolutely. But that wasn’t going to happen. After spending 8th grade listening to Significant Other on the bus, there didn’t really exist a situation where the Misfits or Jawbreaker or Bad Religion was going to come into my life. No, my first step into punk rock was always destined to be a shaky one, and it just so happened that the time I was ready for something different aligned pretty neatly with blink’s rise to superstardom.
And boy, was I hooked. I can remember hearing “What’s My Age Again?” and “All the Small Things” back-to-back for the first time, and feeling a reaction deep in my gut. It was fast, it was immature, and it was (at least to my 13-year-old ears) reckless. But most importantly? It was fun!
You know earlier, when I said I spent 8th grade listening to Significant Other? That wasn’t an exaggeration, every morning and every afternoon, I spent the bus ride buried in headphones listening to Fred Durst yell at me, because I didn’t have any other music to call my own. And if you want to get a clear picture of how powerful pop-punk can be, listen to Limp Bizkit for a year. Cathartic doesn’t begin to describe it.
After having formed no serious musical opinions for myself, and instead listening to whatever my friends (who were soon to stop sharing my musical tastes for the remainder of our youths) were listening to at the time, I had finally found something that I loved, not because it clicked with someone else, but because it clicked with me.
Enema served as my springboard into, first, other pop-punk bands like Green Day, New Found Glory, Sum 41 (shut up) and several forgotten bands that disappeared as quickly as they sprang up. From there came third wave ska (Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, Catch 22) and emo, mostly of the Drive Thru Records variety (I was big into Something Corporate, The Starting Line, and Allister, all who have gone on to
bigger and better things pretty much nothing (okay, Something Corporate led to Jack’s Mannequin)).
And gradually my tastes hardened and I longed for more aggression, a desire you could probably trace back to Rancid (seriously, how is …And Out Come The Wolves so freaking awesome?). From that came my eventual forays into The Sex Pistols, Minor Threat, and the Misfits (find me a better punk album than Walk Among Us. Go. Right now. I’ll wait.).
And somehow, all of this has lead me to where I am today, a reasonably well-rounded and well-versed music listener. Someone with CDs by Jawbreaker, Brandi Carlile, The Hold Steady, Reel Big Fish, and Bon Iver in his car. Someone who will readily karaoke The Dead Milkmen and Frank Sinatra in the same night. Someone who is hungry for more. And strangely this can all be traced back to a candy-coated, crassly titled, pop-punk album by blink 182. And so for that I say this: Mark, Tom, and Travis, I don’t really listen to you anymore and you pretty much suck live, but I owe you everything. I will always kind of love you.
Posted under Kyle's Adventures in Pop Culture
This post was written by Kyle on September 19, 2011