AGE OF RAGE – The Australian Punk Revolution
Age of Rage is a brand new film about the Australian punk music scene. This 82mins documentary shows both music and lives of people who often had nowhere to go.
Through music, photos, archival footage and commentary, it examines how Australian punk ideology, music, social issues, community, violence, drugs, police harassment and a ferociously DIY ethos transformed Australian lives.
When the first wave of punk broke Australian shores in the 1970’s it was met with a fierce embrace that still reverberates.
Adopted and adapted with fearsome intensity by disenfranchised, pre-globalisation Australian kids against the isolation and cultural vacuity of mainstream Australia, punk was a DIY counterculture – a profound, lived, visceral critique of late 20th century capitalism. Australian punks chose values and agendas that for many have become lifelong.
Interview with writer and director Jennifer Ross
How did you get interested in punk?
My initial exposure to punk was from what echoed through my older brother’s bedroom door. He’d be belting out Dead Kennedys, MDC and Black
Flag at full volume. He was a drummer, straight edge (no drugs or alcohol) and into hardcore and skateboarding. Our parents were very tolerant. The neighbours? Not so much.
Fast forward a few years and my little sister was organising huge all-ages skate and hardcore punk shows, and my brother was drumming in bands that toured with The Dead Kennedys and Henry Rollins. I shaved stripes into the side of my head, dyed them green and grew dreadlocks. I was living in a squat, trying to maintain my own music studies so I was practising scales and arias during the day, then thrashing along to hardcore bands several nights a week. I blame my brother (laughs).
What did you discover while making this film?
A wide variety of people were 172 drawn to the punk movement.
It didn’t occur to me until I made the film that there were a lot of people that didn’t have anywhere else to go. There were definitely people who just wanted to
hang out, play in bands and take drugs, but there were also people that were suffering from issues of abandonment, depression and isolation.
Many are the children of first- generation migrants, post-World War II, and they were feeling the reverberations of all of that. The punk scene was a refuge; a tribe that would stand beside them.
There are some darker moments in this documentary, can you speak to that?
The punk movement wasn’t without its problems. There was violence and drugs and death and all the grief that goes along with that. There were kids who were suffering real trauma before they joined the punk movement and sometimes that trauma was exacerbated by the anarchic lifestyle they chose.
What is punk to you?
Punk is more than the widely perceived conception. It’s not just music and fashion; it’s a set of values. Punks hold a mirror to society. While making my film, I had the privilege of meeting a range of people engaged in the pursuit of changing their world. These are people who have previously been underestimated and dismissed during their punk days. They may have ditched their mohawks and re-engaged with mainstream society but they still hold those important ideals.
What do you hope people take away from Age of Rage?
Punk is meaningful chaos. From this film, I hope audiences understand what punk was, and is, and come to appreciate the passion that underpinned the punk movement, which is still alive and well. Punk’s legacy is enduring.