I’ve been getting alot of inquiries lately about the Germs. People are interested not only in stories about Darby, but in hearing my opinion about the movie, What We Do Is Secret, that is being made about the band. They are also interested in the subsequent formation of the New Germs, as the band fronted by actor Shane West has been called on the internet.
I’ve had a hard time answering some of the questions. I know that the three remaining principle members of the band have been involved with and/or consulted about the movie, so I expect that most of it will be accurate and portray the band in the way they wish to be portrayed.
I also think it speaks very highly of Shane West that the remaining members of the band would want to reunite and play as the Germs with him as lead singer. I haven't had a chance to catch them yet. I don’t think there is any doubt that the band will be well-rehearsed, sound good and do a great show. But I suspect that is not what people want to know. There is a question that I feel many of you are trying to ask but have not done so far. The question is, can a band that stood for something at a certain point in time have the same relevance today?
That question goes further than asking about the Germs. There are many people performing today who were around when punk in Los Angeles was in its infancy. My favorite band, The Weirdos, still plays. They are still wonderful. I go see them every chance I get, but do their performances mean the same thing that they did 30 years ago? No. Not only is the band line-up different today, but the music is older. We’re all much older, and punk itself is nearly 30 years old.
The first time you step onto an airplane may be a new and exciting experience for you, but it’s not the same as the first time someone climbed into an airplane in the early 1900s. Air travel is part of our culture; there is little mystery and magic left of what once must have seemed an incredible experience. Even if you’ve never been on a plane yourself, you’ve seen planes flying overhead and you know people who have been on them, they are part of everyday life. Punk rock as a cultural movement has come to that point. It is part of everyday life. Some of you have grown up with a punk rock soundtrack because your parents or older siblings were listening to it. Punk music and ideology is in a different stage of its life. Which is not to say that punk isn’t relevant or valuable, just that it isn’t what it was. It has been changed, perfected, expanded upon and reinvented by some, and of course commercialized and exploited by others.
I’m sorry to say this, but if you didn’t see the Germs, or Weirdos, or Screamers, or Bags in the late ‘70s, you will never be able to have that experience. You may see reunions of some of those bands, and they may sound great, and you may even think to yourself, “this is what it was like”, but don’t fool yourself. If you want that experience, you would do better to go see a new band, one that is creating something all their own, one that can’t trace its roots back 30 years, one which is true to the spirit in which punk was born.