What does it mean when a genre of music is described by an inanimate object, rather than a musical term? That’s the case with skate punk, the West Coast-borne sub-genre that emerged in the 1990s.
Because of its close association with skateboard culture, punk music became irrevocably linked to a mode of travel, rather than a style of performance.
However, on their 2011 song “Radio Action,” South Korean band The Strikers show that this genre name, like many others, is unnecessary.
Because at its core, “Radio Action” is a deftly-written rock anthem, shedding arbitrary categorization.
Since 2005, The Strikers have been leading the so-called skate punk scene in their hometown of Seoul.
A classic power trio with each member contributing vocals, they embrace the positive energy ethos of countless latter-day punks before them.
Taken from the band’s 2011 album “Screaming Youth,” The Strikers song “Radio Action” pivots around an extremely important facet of any quality song, regardless of its classification, and that’s a killer chorus.
With drummer Wonn contributing a powerful vocal countermelody, guitarist Sunn Row delivers attitude to spare over power chords that earn their “powerful” designation.
These sorts of hyper-melodic choruses have been employed by groups going all the way back to the Buzzcocks up ’till today.
Were the Buzzcocks “skate punk?” Of course not, and the genre designation is a meaningless one.
What matters about this music is that it’s well-crafted and convincingly performed.
The chorus is a constant, but the verses display a considerable attention to variation.
The first verse marches forward with the hi-hats tensely kept closed, a perfect set-up to the chorus’s first appearance.
The second verse employs the kind of dynamic dialing-back that is usually saved for a bridge, an uncharacteristic choice that works.
Rather than letting the energy flag in the bridge, The Strikers elect to build the intensity.
Following a brief but heroic lead on the guitar, the band smashes into a halftime stomp that builds into a gang-vocal chant led by bassist Ahn Soon.
The whole thing is clearly designed for maximum impact in the live setting.
It’s easy to imagine a pile of sweaty kids screaming along to “Radio Action.” Taken as a whole, all of these smart ideas keep the music interesting, given the often-limiting genre.
The music itself doesn’t have much to do with the abstract idea of skating and The Strikers seem more concerned with crafting good music than pledging allegiance any one particular scene.
If more musicians and music fans were able to see beyond arbitrary signifiers and sub-genre nitpicking, more musicians from different worlds could find common ground and common fans.
And that, as Martha Stewart says, would be a good thing.
Watch the music video for The Strikers’s “Radio Action” RIGHT HERE Jeff Tobias is a composer, writer and musician currently living in Brooklyn, New York.
As of late, he has been studying arcane systems of tuning and discovering new ways to approach breakfast.