One site Way Out Radio are proud to be associated with is thepunksite.com! They support the punk scene with reviews and interviews highlighting women led rock like Millie Manders and the Shutup and Hands of Gretel plus some usual and less heard of underground bands on the scene. They also support us by reposting some of our interviews like NOFX, Witchdoktors and TV Smith! We caught up with the team to get all the insider info. From squeezing over 100 punks into a hotel room for a gig, to crying at a Buzzcocks reformation and almost getting puked on at an Andrew WK concert, these guys have lived it.
Hey guys, please introduce yourselves!
Bobby: Hello! I’m Bobby Gorman from ThePunkSite.com. I grew up in
Sherwood Park, Alberta (a suburb of Edmonton) and moved to Vancouver,
British Columbia in 2011. I’m the founder and editor for ThePunkSite.com
Pete: I’m Pete. I’ve been reviewing and doing the occasional interview
for thepunksite for a couple of years now. I’m lucky enough to have been
around when the first wave of punk was a new thing and I’m still very
excited about new music. Northern Ireland, while it has always punched
above its weight in terms of producing great artists, had become a bit
of a desert for touring acts. That has changed dramatically in the past
few years – the last two bands I saw in Northern Irish venues were Ruts
DC and Hands Off Gretel, so we’re definitely on the map for bands on the
road. Hopefully it won’t be too long before it starts again.
Phinky: I’ve become known as Phinky, for reasons I’m not going to go
into, and I’m from Manchester, I’ve been involved in the punk scene for
as long as I can remember, either in terrible bands when I was younger,
as a punter during the wilderness years in between and then for the
Who started thepunksite.com and how long has it been going? Give us a
little history on how you guys came to be involved…
Bobby: I started ThePunkSite.com almost 18 years ago, back when I was
just starting grade ten. It officially opened on October 1st, 2003. So
yes, it has been open for quite a while and has ebbed and flowed in
popularity and activity over the years.
After teaching myself how to make websites thanks to Neopets, I launched
a Blink-182 fan site when I was in grade eight. I then joined with a few
other Blink182 fan site curators and launched CorporatePunk.net with
them. A year or two later I opted to branch out on my own and created
ThePunkSite.com. I designed and coded it all myself with what little
technical knowledge I knew. In 2012, I had a good friend of mine from
Edmonton (Hi Rusty!) re-design it and make it WordPress compatible –
which I am forever grateful for.
It was a driving force for my high school and university years, and I
interviewed hundreds of bands, went to hundreds of concerts, listened to
thousands of albums – it was a dream come true. It was like being in
Almost Famous but without the sex, drugs, and wild parties.
After moving to Vancouver and starting work in the film industry, I
don’t quite have as much time to work on it as I once did. I still do
some writing on it, but it has fallen a bit to the back burner for me
personally, which is why I’m incredibly lucky to have a great group of
other writers and editors to spearhead it all and keep the momentum
going! WIthout them, the site would’ve floundered years ago.
I never once thought I would be running this for almost 17 and a half
years – that’s literally over half my life now. It’s kind of surreal
thinking about it – and I hope we can maintain it for years to come.
Pete: Phinky’s to blame for my involvement. Several years ago, we were
hooked up by a mutual Twitter buddy and, to cut a long story short, we
became firm friends. That was helped by our shared musical tastes
initially but we’ve had lots of real world adventures now, including two
stints covering Rebellion as a team. When he asked me to contribute a
‘few reviews’, it was a massive compliment and I’ve been enjoying doing
them ever since.
Phinky: The site has been around for long before I was involved so I
left that bit with Bobby, I was asked to write for the site after
talking about punk on twitter to Steven Farkas, one of our elder
statesmen (sorry Steve), I was asked to join whilst wandering around my
local market, weird how things stick in your head. Bobby just lets me
get on with it now, which shows a lot of trust as the site is his baby.
I think I’ve been involved for about 6 years and in that time I’ve done
over 7000 posts, I’m kind of invested in doing this and it’s certainly
accelerated during lockdown.
What are some of your all time favourite punk memories from gigs or hanging out?
Bobby: There’s many. Of course, the highlight is my six years I’ve
travelled down to The Fest in Florida. I sincerely think that The Fest
12 was the best six days of my entire life. I somehow managed to watch
something like 95 bands in those six days, I barely slept, was too sick
to move one of the days and made so many lifelong friends that year.
Watching White Wives do a Green Day cover set in the Holiday Inn
Ballroom was insane, not to mention the Pineapple Party, a random house
party we went to in Pre-Fest, stupidly deciding to climb up palm trees
and then desperately needing to find tweezers to remove the hundreds of
splinters. We had 65 people crammed into our Holiday Inn hotel room one
night to watch Lauren Measure and Smoke or Fire play acoustically. The
memories from that weekend can go on.
I’ve also loved my time at Pouzza Fest, flying down to California for
two days of Warped Tour in 2010 (I still carry around my Warped Tour
2004 ticket stub in my wallet despite having gone through multiple
wallets over the years), meeting up with friends in New Jersey for Skate
and Surf Fest or watching The Copyrights sing Worn Out Passport the
night I landed in Chicago at the Beat Kitchen.
In Edmonton I spent almost every second weekend at the Wunderbar
watching my friends’ bands play again and again and again. Thinking
back, I can’t help but smile at the sincere happiness that I felt
shouting along to Audio/Rocketry -arm in arm with friends and strangers
alike: this audio, is silent without my friends.
That’s what I remember most, the friends I’ve made at random shows and
the adventures I’ve gone on them with. Yes, I remember getting peed on
during the second song of a Rise Against Christmas show in 2005. I
remember seeing Jimmy Eat World as my first ever concert in 2002 and
running out of the circle pit for Gob like 6 months later as it was way
too chaotic for my 14-year-old self. Watching Davey Havoc walk atop the
crowd, or Dave Hause accidentally give his guitar away and have to chase
after it, I saw Social Distortion in London and watched someone puke
during Andrew WK’s Party Till You Puke. I once even put my contact lens
back in mid-circle pit of Trusty Chords. There’s so many memories – and
my mind is overflowing with them now.
I guess that’s what’s so good about punk and the punk scene. I can’t
pinpoint my best memory because there’s just too many. I’ve had some good times over the years.
Pete: my favourites are always the last ones and when you get to my
stage of life, there are too many to really pick out. There are,
however, two moments I will always cherish. The first was walking into
Crystal Palace Football Club to see the Sex Pistols in 2002. The place
was full of punks – not mohawked post-1981 models but people who had
studied the original ethos. It was all ripped suits from Oxfam, military
uniform items – all real, original and mostly home-made styling. Not
Ramones glitter T shirts from your High Street mega outlet. It felt
authentic and exciting. The Pistols were rubbish by the way, but that
was kind of authentic too. The second was seeing the re-formed Buzzcocks
walk out on stage at Brixton Academy in 1989. I’m not ashamed to admit I
cried. That’s how much that meant to me.
Phinky: There are so many, live music has been the majority of my social
life since I was 16, and that was quite a while ago now, it’s where I’ve
met most of my friends. I still get a buzz from finding exciting new
bands, which is why anyone who goes to a gig with me has to catch the
support acts, it’s worth it for those moments when you catch someone
that unexpectedly blows you away. Best memories? At the moment I’m
feeling somewhat nostalgic for the year before the pandemic hit, both
Manchester Punk Fest and Rebellion were highlights of those years, not
just the music, but the atmosphere and the people are also an equal part
of these events. Local to me we have labels and scenes that are all
different, the likes of Abattoir Blues, TNSrecords and Horn & Hoof
Records have all put on amazing nights in and around Manchester in the
pre-pandemic years and hopefully will do again.
Who are they key punk bands that changed it all for you?
Bobby: As “poser” as it may sound – it was Blink 182 for me. My first
website was a Blink 182 website and then that just started everything
for me. They were the band that opened everything for me – both in terms
of web design and music. I love that band and I always will without any
shame and I hold them near and dear to my heart. From there, I dove
straight in. Drive-Thru Records, Fat Wreck Chords, Epitaph,
SideOneDummy, Red Scare, Go-Kart. Those are the labels that started my
foundation and I just never stopped looking for more. Other bands, if
you must know – would be the likes of The Lawrence Arms, New Found
Glory, NOFX, Bad Religion, Dropkick Murphys, Rise Against, Gaslight
Anthem, Menzingers, The Loved Ones, The Bouncing Souls, Frank Turner,
The Flatliners. They’ve all played important moments to my life.
Pete: we all have our favourites but analytically it was punk itself
that changed things for me. Music was (and has often been since) so
commodified and formulaic that anything that swept away those norms
would have been important. I had a friend at school who delivered
newspapers and therefore had an income. He spent it all on records and
was happy to share, so I was inducted through them and the mixtapes he
would make. You can imagine how life-changing it was to be a surly
adolescent suddenly introduced to music that reflected your own life and
emotions. Punk was that cultural Big Bang and everything since has been
echoes of that original explosion.
Phinky: It started with whatever singles my brother had, so it was late
’70s and early ’80s punk bands such as Buzzcocks, SLF and Dead Kennedys,
those appealed to me in a way that his Genesis and Be Bop Deluxe records
never managed to, after I’d stolen all the good stuff from him I just
started finding more and more music, recommendations, reviews, radio,
especially John Peel, all fed my music habit. As you get older you get
into different types of music, but there’s always a solid punky core at
the centre. The Damned, The Misfits, Ramones and NOFX are probably my
all time favourites, but each decade brings acts that stick with you and
sit alongside the old school bands
You’ve got The Chats, Hands Of Gretel and The Go-Gos on your site. Tell us about some recent bands and releases you’d recommend?
Bobby: I’m bad at this, like real bad – because I haven’t been quite as
involved as I used to be. But I absolutely loved the new Days n Daze
album. Spanish Love Songs are unreal. I just found a band called The New
Ports that I’m really liking, but their last EP came out in 2017.
Homeless Gospel Choir have a new album coming out that I’m itching to
hear. I need to dive into more newer bands, but the last month I’ve been
on a nostalgia kick and listening to albums from the early 2000s and
reminiscing over all of those.
Pete: The new Weekend Recovery album ‘False Company’ is almost flawless.
They are a band that please themselves but in doing so have produced a
wonderful, towering piece of work that really belongs in the mainstream.
It demonstrates what a lottery the music business is. If Kelly Clarkson
or Pink released exactly this album, millions of people would say; “What
a breath of fresh air, what brilliant tunes, what a bold album”. But
it’s Weekend Recovery so about 1% of that audience will get to hear it.
Likewise Millie Manders and the Shutup’s ‘Telling Truths, Breaking Ties’
album from last year (thepunksite’s reviewers’ Album Of The Year last
year) – another brilliant DIY album from one of the hardest working
bands around. If either of these bands got even a fraction of the
exposure some of these autotuned, disposable Instagram puppets get, the
world would be a better place.
Phinky: Last year my favourite releases were by Millie Manders And The
Shutup, The Dead Krazukies and Hayley & The Crushers, since we published
our end of your list we’ve had an amazing split from The Raging Nathans
and Reaganonmics, I love the sunny ska of Bite Me Bambi and Weekend
Recovery’s new album is something special. NOFX have their new ‘Single
Album’ out, and Nosebleed have a new album due out this year and I’m really looking forward to that, almost as much as I’m looking to forward to watching them live again, if you haven’t seen them they should be somewhere near the top of anyone’s must see list when the venues reopen their doors. If you asked me next week I’d probably have to add another band or two into that.
Best and worst things about running the site? Why is DIY culture so important to you?
Bobby: The best thing is by far the friends and experiences I’ve gained
over the years. I’ve met more people than I ever thought possible. I’ve
been able to travel and was even a Juno Awards Judge one year. I’m just
a guy who started this website because I loved music and wanted to see
if I could code something and the opportunities it has made for me are
The worst thing, especially lately (pre-Covid), is not being able to
fully immerse myself into concerts all the time. I need to try to
mentally recollect a lot of tidbits and sections so that I could come
home and write a review and write about it. I never sit and take notes,
but I do need to make mentally categorized observations to remember for
when I get home. At times, that can take away from the enjoyment and
sheer ecstasy of a fantastic live show.
DIY culture is important because it’s built on camaraderie and
friendship. You work together and you grow together, and you build
together. It helps create a sense of accomplishment when it all falls
into place and it’s a sensation unlike anything else. People do it
because they love to do it – and that’s just wonderful.
Pete: DIY culture is pure punk spirit in action. We’re lucky to live in
an age when the artist can control their own means of production and
distribution. The sheer amount of new music is staggering. The best part
is that you don’t need anyone’s permission to express your creativity.
You don’t need to rely on the beneficence of some disconnected suit in
an office to approve your output. And it’s not just music, it’s all
kinds of creative output. The paradox of DIY is that by being yourself
and idiosyncratic, you also become part of a big family that looks out
for itself. So the whole chain nurtures and supports itself – the
artists, the record pressers, the writers and artists, the merchandise
creators, internet people … Punk was always about challenging the norm
and asking ‘why?’. DIY has enshrined that attitude now as ‘well, why
Phinky: The DIY scene and the independent labels are where the best
music comes from, it’s that simple, and it’s a scene that supports
itself and each other, I think the latter part of that is what makes it
special, I don’t get a sense of rivalry, there are exceptions, but it’s
a mostly a supportive and inclusive scene where you can be yourself and
no one gives a fuck, to me that is something very special. If you want
to see this then the scenes reaction to the pandemic has been amazing,
band’s have been recording more, there have been benefit albums, singles
and books, and as this is from people who are hugely impacted by COVID
that says a lot. It even inspired me and Pete to start our own label,
Not Murdered Records, and our first releases were in support of the Pete
Shelley Memorial Fund, so many bands and artists were willing to give up
their time and record something for someone they’d never met, that blew
me away. We also have a great group of writers and photographers all
doing it just because they love music, hopefully some of us will get to
meet up somewhere noisy this year. The worst thing, there aren’t many
downsides, when you’re working a few jobs, typing for the site and you
have a social life it can be a nightmare keeping up with the news, most
of the time sleep would be sacrificed to fit it in, although this hasn’t
been a problem for the past year!
What has the response been like to what you’re doing and what are some highlights?
Bobby: The response as been great. Especially when I was younger –
people were always amazed that I was this 16 year old kid backstage
doing interviews; and I prided myself on those interviews. I spent hours
researching them and made sure they were as interesting and engaging as
possible – and I’m still extremely proud of many of them. A few of those
interviews have been published in music biographies and I’m even
published in a German textbook where high school students need to learn
about punk rock in their English class. It’s surreal. They sent me a
copy of the textbook – and the essay question the students had to answer
based on my interview is something I would never be able to answer.
Pete: I wrote a review a couple of years ago and someone left a comment
along the lines of ‘great review by someone who knows what they’re
talking about’. That was a highlight. Having the feeling that you might
just have switched someone on to something new is a big buzz too.
Phinky: When a band or label contacts you to say how much something we
did helped them in some way, getting told that what you did made a
difference, no matter how small, is still a buzz. I’ve made genuine
friends through writing for the site and being in touch with labels,
bands and PR and I’ve obviously been exposed to to so much new music. You can’t help but be energised by the fact that punk is still mutating and
surviving after 45 years.
Where can people find out more and what’s to look forward to for thepunksite?
Bobby: If all goes according to plan, I should be having a zoom meeting
with a new web designer this afternoon. The site hasn’t had a cosmetic
upgrade since 2012 and the technology has evolved A LOT since then. I’m
hoping that this new face lift will make it more user friendly and
adaptable. This will be the first design I haven’t done myself or with
the help of a friend, so fingers crossed that it comes out well! I know
it will be better than anything I could ever do myself – so keep your
eyes out, I think you’ll be quite pleased.
Pete: what you get from thepunksite is that it’s put together by people
who really love music. There are plenty of review sites that take the
easy path and recycle press releases, and I guess that’s sometimes what
PR folk might like to see. But that can be just rolling a turd in
glitter, can’t it? What’s the point of reviewing if you don’t bring your
own honest opinion to it? A half-hearted review is worthless. If
something’s not as good as it could be, the review should say so. It’s
just an opinion after all – you don’t have to agree with it.
Phinky: Every week, if not every day, I will be introduced to new
bands and new labels, we get submissions from all over the world so it’s
cool to hear what’s happening on other continents, I handle most of the
news posts and I’ll keep trying to share as much new music as I can fit
in. Obviously what I’m really looking forward to is starting to cover
live music when some kind of normality returns, it’s been almost no
social life and no live music for a year now and that is too long,
before this it was rare that I wouldn’t have a gig coming up, so yeah,
like everyone I’m looking forward to that and being able to post tour
news again. We will continue to cover everything from scuzzy garage
bands through to pop punk and screaming hardcore, and everything
in-between, we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing and hope that people
continue to find music they love through us.