Sean Guillory edits MAILBOMB! Fanzine and also runs Primordial Soup Kitchen Zine mail-order.
How have you seen punk rock change?
Sean: Well, I haven't really been into punk per se. I like some of the music but what interests me about it is the DIY attitude and some of the political philosophy. How has it changed? It seems to depend on the circles you run in. There are trends of acceptance and then backlash. It seems to be more homogenized, because due to corporate appropriation of the music and style it is not as alien to many. It's not uncommon for you to see someone walking down the street with the "punk look." It seems to me that those who have the punk mindset are distancing themselves from the music and are concentrating more on the philosophy, zines, political action, etc.
Is it better now or worse?
Sean: With the concentration on the political aspect it has gotten better. Instead of concentrating on what is and isn't punk, some are asking why and how something so underground gets co-opted by the mainstream. To answer that you have to look at the society we live in, the economic system, and American culture. Punk, to me, has always been a social movement that rejected middle class values. If you look at the make up of punks, they are primarily upper to middle class white kids who reject baby boomerism. It's great.
Do you think there's anything wrong with punk?
Sean: There are things wrong in anything. The whole elitism that sometimes surfaces. The PC mind police that get offended at any mention of words like "fag" and stuff. It's really ridiculous. To me, people like that only want free speech for their opinions. As far as the music is concerned, there are very few bands that are great but the majority of them really suck. The music isn't that important. There are people that I know who don't even like punk, but are more punk than any music fan could ever be. It's a state of mind.
What's good about it?
Sean: Like I said, the increased emphasis on the punk mindset and culture that is happening. The fight to keep it from being consumed by corporate America. I like the de-emphasis in the "fuck shit up senseless attitude" and an increase in the "educated punk," the punk that has actually researched, read and learned so they know what they are talking about. The people who can tell you why so and so signed to a major label, not say, "Uh man, because they are sell outs."
How have you seen the crowds and people at shows change?
Sean: I don't know. I don't go to shows anymore so I can't compare. Plus when I did, it wasn't that many.
Do you see any problems with the way people act at shows?
Sean: I did notice a few things, like when I saw Heavens to Betsy. People don't talk to you unless you look like them. Sometimes people act like they're in some elitist clique. Even some people who I consider friends act like that.
What can we do to make the scene better?
Sean: I really have no idea. Maybe some of the things that I have said above.
Final thoughts? Anything you'd like to add?
Sean: It's funny, punk is a thing you would hope everyone would subscribe to, but when more people get into it, it's always seen as a terrible thing. We live in a corporate world. It is hard to totally remove yourself from the capitalist system, if not impossible. No one is perfect and most of us drink Coke. The only way to change things is to build it ourselves, which in many ways punk has done, or take control of everything for ourselves, punks and non-punks alike. Punks need to remember there is a whole world out there that doesn't know or care about punk. The punk philosophy needs to include those people too.