punk’s not dead nor will it ever die
As evidenced by a recent book documenting the scene.
Photography Melynda Von Wayard. Hands 2004-2007.
In the 70s, while Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren were loudly redefining culture and giving punk a new aesthetic and soundtrack via their store SEX and a band that you may have heard of called The Sex Pistols, Australian punks around the other side of the world were also making their distinctive mark. Famous for its late 70s Little Band scene with bands like Clang and Morpions, which existed alongside notable post punk acts like Boys Next Door, and Primitive Calculators, Melbourne was home to a healthy punk scene which has been documented, discussed and dissected ever since.
It's far less common to see punks around the city these days so we were intrigued to hear that budding photographer Melynda Von Wayward had meticulously documented the scene between 2004 and 2007 and packaged her pictures up into a newly released book called Punk, a Photographic Journey. It's an important archive of snaps of Melbourne's punks at gigs, house parties and pub crawls during this time through one consistent lens and it looks really fun.
What made you decide to start taking photos of punks?
Melynda Von Wayward: I'd been going to punk gigs over the years and when I bought a camera in 2004, I just decided to start taking more formal photos of the people in the scene. I started doing more research and realized that many people consider 1977-1979 to be punk's heyday. I'd argue that it's just evolved since then. There were great hardcore punk bands that emerged in the 80s like Depression and Vicious Circle and I thought it would be great to document what I was seeing in the 000s.
It's a great collection of images, how did people respond to being photographed?
I'd go to the Arthouse, the Tote and the Great Britain and I remember that people were a bit suss on me when I initially pulled out my camera. They'd ask if I was an undercover cop…or if I was from the Herald Sun. I was like 'you idiot!' [laughs]
Where are the current punk haunts?
Quite a few of the punk pubs have closed down over the years but the Dancing Dog in Footscray was a popular a hub for a while. In fact Footscray has become quite a hub generally. Also the Lyre Bird in Balaclava has fairly regular punk gigs. Prior to it closing down the Arthouse was the heart of the Melbourne punk scene for the good part of a decade. Marie, Don and their daughter Mel who ran it would treat everyone so well. There were no bouncers and it was always a great atmosphere. It's hard to replace that.
From your perspective, what's the future?
I think punk is an ever-evolving, ever changing movement. It's an attitude, the kind of attitude where people will form a band even though they can't play an instrument. And in many cases they've ended up making really important music. It will evolve as it always has. The 80s crew took the attitude and gave it their own look with leather jackets and studs then skater punk was popular - people take the elements and give birth to the new era of punk, whatever that may be. Punk is timeless in a way because it's an attitude at the heart of it. It's here to stay.
You can buy a copy of 'Punk a Photographic Journey: 2004-2007' here.
Text Briony Wright
Photography Melynda Von Wayward