Has Henry Rollins gone from hardcore to softbore?
For years I've considered punchy positivist punk rocker Henry Rollins the bipolar opposite of pencil-necked miserablist godfather-of-twee Morrissey.
But could I be wrong? Could Rollins be just as much to blame for the hideous monstrosity that is twee as the Lord Voldemort of pop, Morrissey? For the uninitiated, twee is mock pop music made by insufferably smug kidults who dress up as a pedophile's fantasy version of 1950s upper-middle-class British schoolchildren. It started in Britain in the 1980s, was revived by Belle and Sebastian in the '90s and has been re-revived this decade by the supremely punchable Los Campesinos!
It's tempting to see twee as the antithesis of the brutal, in-your-fucking-face punk rock played by Henry Rollins, who has spent decades ragging on Morrissey, ordering the bequiffed streak of British piss to "get a girlfriend, get a James Brown CD, get some vitamin C, get some fucking clean air and some sunlight, go outside for a walk. Get over it!"
Well hold on to your seats, Yanks, because I'm about to blow your minds with evidence that Rollins--not Morrissey--is the true godfather of twee.
Come with us now to Olympia, Wash., 1984. American punk rock has just shat the bed. Ignoring the diverse range of early punk, U.S. punk has opted for the tedious one-size-fits-all macho monstrosity of hardcore, where just about every band is fronted by a stripped-to-the-waist white boy shouting about how he hates his mom.
A young gentleman named Calvin Johnson decides to subvert this dull macho monoculture with a billycooing fop-and-chick-fronted combo called Beat Happening. By being totally not punk rock, Beat Happening are being totally punk rock. But Henry Rollins--then lead singer of Black Flag--not only doesn't get this, he blows his superbly muscled nut.
Rollins screams abuse at Johnson for almost the entire gig, finally reaching up and grabbing Johnson's cock. At which point Johnson fixes Mr. Hardcore with a baleful glare and says, "Didn't your mother teach you any manners?"
That's why Henry Rollins is responsible for the third-wave-of-twee monstrosity that is Los Campesinos! (who namecheck him in their hideous twee anthem "The International Tweexcore Underground"). Like a bodybuilder who ingests too much testosterone via steroids and counterproductively floods his system with estrogen (causing the testes to shrivel to the size of raisins and female secondary characteristics like boobs to develop), so the macho overdose Rollins and his ilk injected into hardcore provoked a reaction that has since grown from a subversive and amusing parody into a horrible Godzilla-like plague on both sides of the Atlantic.
Henry Rollins, put that Morrissey chew toy down. J'accuse! You are the true godfather of twee.