As the generation gap is constantly widening between us and the latest generation of punk rockers, we need to find solace in comparing ourselves to bands that are even older than us. This list doesn’t include novelty punk rock acts featuring very old people, such as One Foot In The Grave, or Team Spider, it’s more like a longest running punk band list with some special considerations.
The rules: bands first got points for active years, then they got penalty points for losing key members, releasing less than 10 albums, or releasing non-punk stuff, or received a bonus point for featuring an extra old member. Obviously, we didn’t consider bands here that reformed without any key members just to perform at the Holidays In The Sun festival. Here’s the list:
1. UK Subs – 34 points
They’ve been active for 33 years, and they released an album for every letter in the English alphabet from A to W. (Just 3 to go, Charlie!) They got a bonus point for Charlie Harper being 66 years-old. We met these guys backstage at Sziget festival a couple of years ago, and Charlie was totally cool. He’s living proof for the theory that while you look kinda stupid playing punk rock at 50, you’ll be cool again when you pass 60.
2. The Stranglers – 32 points
Calculating the Stranglers’ score was the most complicated. They’ve been active for 36 years, but they lost Hugh Cornwell (-2 points), and released totally non-punk stuff like Dreamtime (-3 points), however, they still have 72-year-old Jet Black in the band (+1 point). We saw them live at Sziget in the year we started the band. It was good, but it didn’t feel like the real stuff without Cornwell.
3. The Adicts – 32 points
The Adicts claim to be the longest serving punk band with original line-up. They originate themselves from 1975, but their first album came out only in 1981, and they didn’t reach the 10-album limit either, so they lost 2 points here. Another penalty point comes for the synth-heavy Fifth Overture album, and this is how they got their final score of 32. They have some good tunes, but we probably wouldn’t put them in the Top 100 if it was a Best Of Punk list.
4. Bad Religion – 29 points
Bad Religion are the first American punk band on the list (classic UK punk bands seem to be more enduring for some reason). They’ve been active for 30 years, and they got a penalty point for their prog rock album, Into the Unknown, hence the score. They’re good, but we never really got into them for some reason.
5. The Damned – 28 points
They’ve been active for 29 years (they were on a hiatus between 1988 and ’93), and they are still awesome. We saw them at the Punk Aid festival in Prague in 2004, and that gig was amazing. While the Stranglers and the Buzzcocks were definitely better back in their heyday, the Damned were the best live out of the three in their modern incarnations. The penalty point was for not having Captain Sensible in the band for about a decade. Some of their 80s output also has very little to do with punk (Dave’s a goth at heart), but it’s still OK, so no penalty for this one.
6. The Toy Dolls – 28 points
In 2004 the Toy Dolls went on a tour which was called “Our Last Tour?”. We were the supporting act at the sold out Budapest gig, which is still a nice memory. Since the tour was a huge success, it was prolonged for a year, and then another year… and the Toy Dolls are still playing gigs today. This is how they reached 28 points for 28 active years. Go, Olga, go!
7. The Dickies – 28 points
The Dickies started back in 1977, but they were only active for 28 years. They’re one of the goofiest punk bands ever, pretty much the American counterpart of the Toy Dolls. (Olga actually helped them out on bass for a while in 2001.) They also had to deal with far too many deaths (drug related and natural) for a fun punk band.
8. Social Distortion – 28 points
Social Distortion have been active for about 30 years, and Mike Ness has definitely one of the greatest, unmistakable voices in punk rock. The only complaint one can have is that they only released 7 albums during these 3 decades. (Including the not yet released Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes.) Even if the quality is always outstanding, they lost 2 points here.