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Pure Vancouver punk

By LIZ ARMITAGE

LL THE best punk rock bands come from suburbia, as No Means No testifies. Crawling from a quiet neighbourhood in Victoria, Canada, this band clings to the punk rock spirit in the face of pop, passing decades and commercialism.

"We're upper middle-class white kids from suburbia, and we tried to bite the hand that fed us," says bassist/vocalist Robert Wright. "Along the way 1 think we've learned a little more about the value of our movement, and what came

out of it."

He likens No Means No to the milieu of bands that rose out of America in the 1980s, the Nirvanas, the Green Days — bands that were about as "popular as leprosy" when they started.

"It's hard to remember now, but this kind of music was viciously hated by ev erybody when it first came out, except for the people that were participating in

it."

And while No Means No caught the beginnings of this movement, it's been left behind as far as the world of corpo rate showbusiness is concerned — stay ing on the fringes of popular culture, and, Wright is proud to say, keeping its punk rock idealism.

"To me it was never really about the music. It was about being able to stand up on your feet and express yourself as you wanted, amongst people you consid ered your equals — being part of a group of people who are dedicated to doing something that has as little bull shit in it as possible.

"We started out about 10 years ago in punk rock, and punk rock had a very sort of angry emotional negative tone to it — as its inspiration and its reaction to the world around it — we still take our cue from that."

That said, No Means. No has been quite successful. Now based in Vancou ver, it has toured the world several times, with live performances accredited with a "hell of a din" (sometimes creat ed by two drum kits, but not on this Australian tour). The band has a new al bum out through Shock Records, The Worldhood of the World (as such) — a more pop-oriented addition to its prede cessors (which include Sex Mad, The Day Everything Became Nothing, A Col laboration With Mr Jello, and Why do they call me Mr Happy).

No Means No took its name from an anti-rape slogan, and the message is one of choice and the right to refuse in gen eral, says Wright. "We tend to want to write about things that have some sort of meaning to the people we're singing to, other than the cliches of rock music

No Means No: "We tried to bite the hand that fed us."

that people just seem to hang their head on to pass the time."

He writes the majority of the lyrics, and shares the melodies with his brother John (drums). The pair, who form the core of the band, have been at it a long time — it was 18 years ago when they set up a non-professional outfit in the family home. Now Wright is a grey haired veteran, playing to many crowds that are half his age, but his message has not softened with time.

"Music can be vital entertainment, but

I think more effectively it is used as a way of emotionally connecting with peo ple. We try to write songs which have some emotional content in them, as op posed to just a spectacle, or a stylish fa

cade.

"I'd say we were a punk rock band. I have no shame for that, and' I'd prefer it

to be understood."

No Means No, with support by Front End Loader and Hardware, is

playing at the ANU Bar tonight. $

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