New Found Glory are heading to Australia in a few months for their ’20 Years of Pop Punk Anniversary Tour’. In celebration of this milestone, we explore how pop punk has aged nicely… while remaining forever young.

When punk first broke in Brisbane or Berlin, London or New York City, it was about laying waste to the traditions of the past, shocking the establishment – all that punk stuff. “Phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust” jeered The Clash on ‘London’s Calling’, while Glen Matlock was fired from the Sex Pistols for writing songs with what Steve Jones hilariously referred to as “Beatles chords”. The old guard was stuffy and done, and punk rock was here to sneer while it all burns down.

Punk was once the domain of the disenfranchised, and the very young, but in 2017 it is the older acts, established in the ‘90s, who receive the most… dare we say it, respect. This comes from both the younger pop punk bands coming up, and the fans who have remained loyal to their teenage obsessions for two or three decades. While punk was once synonymous with distrust of elders, a punk crowd these days is a cross-section of generations. The most reverence is given to the old road dogs who have proven themselves in the genre. There is a respect for history, for tradition, for hard work. How did that happen?

Using the loosely defined pop punk genre as a case study, let’s take a look at some of the most popular bands in the genre from throughout the ‘90s: Pennywise, The Offspring, Green Day, Bad Religion, Blink-182, The Ataris, NOFX, Frenzal Rhomb, Lagwagon, Rancid, New Found Glory, Unwritten Law, Sum 41.

All these bands, many formed between bong hits in garages, are still operational in 2017: touring the world, making livings on new records, old records, merchandise, and tour receipts. This is a remarkable feat, considering the short lifespan of most bands, especially ones who play a style of music synonymous with youth pursuits. As the genre ages, the music does not, remaining infused with juvenile lyrics, simple chord patterns, and the type of emotional over-sharing that belongs in teenage diaries. It is a visceral art form, even as the purveyors of it settle into comfortable lives with wives, husbands, children and P&C meetings.

Interesting, none of these bands have radically changed their sound over the decades — there has been some evolution, sure — but as most of these band’s ‘best of’ collections showcases, the change between albums was often an improvement on sonics rather than a shift in style. Sure, there was a period after ‘Time Of Your Life’ when many of them had stabs at writing an Earnest Acoustic Crossover Hit, but these were aberrations. Pop punk has remained, pleasingly, consist – with the blueprint having basically stayed the same since the Descendents’ 1982 album Milo Goes To College.

Love The Beatles?

Get the latest The Beatles news, features, updates and giveaways straight to your inbox Learn more

YouTube VideoPlay

New Found Glory are touring Australia this August for their 20 Years Of Pop Punk tour. Often referred to as the Godfathers of pop punk (purists will hate this term, but purists will hate this article) the Florida band actually rose in the late ‘90s, forming three years after the commercial tipping point of pop punk in 1994. This year saw the release of many of the genre’s landmark albums: Green Day’s Dookie, The Offspring’s Smash, Rancid’s Let’s Go, Bad Religion’s Stranger Than Fiction and NOFX’s Punk In Drublic, all of which sold incredibly well. The commercial success of these albums — especially Dookie and Smash, which have sold a combined 31 million records — set the stage for a generation of younger bands who could forge lengthy careers from a sound widely dismissed as a fad at the time.

Last month New Found Glory released their ninth studio album, Make Me Sick, but their upcoming tour will focus on nostalgia — which is to say, they will be paying homage to two decades of music that sounds a lot like their new music. The audience will be a mixture of teenagers currently falling in love with both the urgency and the history, and ‘older’ fans who came on board at some point, and never left.

As musical trends often repeat every 20 years, pop punk is swinging back around in fashion. Pop punk in 2017 is much the same, but now it is also about respect for your elders, a sea of middle-aged men in Vans; it is power chords, and pop melodies, and aggression and juvenile. It is ageless. Blink-182 sang about growing up in 1997; in 2017 they sang “I wanna see some naked dudes/that’s why I built this pool.”

The thing is nobody really wants to grow up, and as pop punk’s lengthy reign shows us – nobody really has to.

New Found Glory’s 20 Years of Pop Punk Anniversary Tour begins in Fremantle on August 8. Tickets are available here.

YouTube VideoPlay

Get unlimited access to the coverage that shapes our culture.
to Rolling Stone magazine
to Rolling Stone magazine