You’re So Punk

The Taqwacores are back with a brand new chapter…

What struck me about this clip was how 9/11 really defined how the guys built their identity. I know it is a significant marker to building the identity for South Asian American of our generation, but it is surprising to see how different people have used the experience to different paths of empowerment. For some it’s voting or service work and others it’s starting punk bands.

Band members of various Taqwacore bands have started an online blog too – The Taqwacore Webzine doesn’t just talk punk, but they write about their perspective on the Lahore bombing, Cat Stevens, or South Asian poetry. But I guess all that is Taqwacore, isn’t it?

This entry was posted in Music, Short by Taz. Bookmark the permalink.

About Taz

Taz is an activist, organizer and writer based in California. She is the founder of South Asian American Voting Youth (SAAVY), curates MutinousMindState.tumblr.com and blogs at TazzyStar.blogspot.com. Follow her at twitter.com/tazzystar

31 thoughts on “You’re So Punk

  1. Just like the Krishnacore folk, Taqwacore wallas are aging – must be in their mid-thirties or beyond by now.

    Its just not good look to be moshing in the pit at 40.

  2. “on the margins of the margins of the margins” too bloody right. great line.

  3. “on the margins of the margins of the margins” too bloody right. great line.

    Not really. Islam is a major religion in the USA and hardcore punk has been around for decades years now.

    I don’t really see any margins, what to speak of margins of margins or margins of margins of margins………….

    But I guess foregoing a PhD to rock is marginal in desi culture, whichever way you cut it.

  4. that old chestnut comes to mind… “you’re not helping christianity, you’re just hurting rock ‘n’ roll.”

  5. I don’t like Yusuf Islam. When Salman Rushdie was in hiding he went on British television and supported the death sentence on his head. So f*ck him.

    Also, most people work out their anger issues by the end of their mid-twenties. Punk rockers are pretty pathetic after that.

  6. ” different paths of empowerment.”

    9/11 certainly didn’t inspire me to take the job that is currently paying for toilets and medical supplies in Manik Farm or supporting small scale entrepreneurs elsewhere. Certainly not ‘empowerment’ in the dominant lefty progressive narrative…unless by that you mean my mother moving us to the US–THAT was empowerment.

  7. it’s certainly not ‘cool’ to be poor when you have no choices nor the urban architecture environment to give your ‘aesthetic’ a respectable veneer and youth culture credibility of indefinite duration.

  8. Just like the Krishnacore folk,

    I thought you were joking, but lo and behold this genre does in fact exist.

    But I guess foregoing a PhD to rock is marginal in desi culture, whichever way you cut it.

    Evangelism isn’t part of the hindu subset of the desi experience…unlike taqwacore most of the participants seem to be people from a white Christian background rather than 2nd gen immigrants. I do see the younger set being more creative and choosing music as an avocation, e.g. maybe being a PhD and “rocking out” Greg Graffin style, but I doubt they would choose to mix spirituality/music this way even if they were practicing Hindus.

  9. Evangelism isn’t part of the hindu subset of the desi experience…unlike taqwacore most of the participants seem to be people from a white Christian background rather than 2nd gen immigrants. I do see the younger set being more creative and choosing music as an avocation, e.g. maybe being a PhD and “rocking out” Greg Graffin style, but I doubt they would choose to mix spirituality/music this way even if they were practicing Hindus.

    Yeah. And it seems the Taqwacore crowd were rebelling as much against certain aspects of Islam as they were against other things like social injustice or alienation, whereas the Krishnacore folk were using their music to promote tenents of their religion. While there don’t seem to have been any desis in a Krishnacore band (though I could be wrong), I do think some desi youth did participate in the scene as audience/fans.

    Another difference I think is that Taqwarcoris were Muslims first and then got into hardcore later, whereas the Krishnacoris were hardcore/straight edgers first who later converted to Vaishnavism, bringing the “scene” along with them.

  10. What’s with the past tense?

    I knew an Indian girl from college who was friend with the guys in shelter. She was a single mom, had a turbulent relationship with her parents – it was an eye opener for me. I thought Hindus in America were goody-goody.

    With taqwacore, a lot of us haven’t remained religious. Arjun, our guitar player never does interviews, and has been an atheist for as long as I knew him. I became an atheist after the three years I spent as a journo in Lahore. Shahjehan is just obsessed with 9/11. It’s something in the bacon.

  11. What’s with the past tense? I knew an Indian girl from college who was friend with the guys in shelter. She was a single mom, had a turbulent relationship with her parents – it was an eye opener for me. I thought Hindus in America were goody-goody. With taqwacore, a lot of us haven’t remained religious. Arjun, our guitar player never does interviews, and has been an atheist for as long as I knew him. I became an atheist after the three years I spent as a journo in Lahore. Shahjehan is just obsessed with 9/11. It’s something in the bacon.

    Interesting. Arjun I assume was from a Hindu family background – because of his name. I guess I assumed Taqwacore, also because of its name, to be a band that held Islam has its core spiritual paradigm. I wouldn’t have assumed y’all were atheists! LOL.

    The Krishnacoris I think have maintained a core Krishna centered spiritualism about them til now, though I think most, if not all of them, have rejected/left/moved on from the cult that introduced them to Vaishnavism - The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), otherwise known as The Hare Krishna Movement.

    I think a few of them have graduated to more authentic forms of Vaishnavism in India, while some others chose to stay affiliated with ISKCON on some level, while others probably have taken made a break from religious sects altogether and others still are just “doing their own thing”. Who knows, maybe even a few have become atheists as well?

  12. Speaking of Desis who rock – Sanjay Malakar and his mohawk are back in action with Jordin Sparks, but for some reason (the glass ceiling?) he’s changed his name to an “anglo sounding” name. See here!

  13. after an exchange with Ms Bess (on another forum) on girls who rock, I took it on myself to do some digging. Here’s an interesting example which will appeal ot all ye people of punk or hindu or multiculti persuasion.

    The Talented Ms Poly Styrene was the lead for the punk band Xray Spex in the late seventies and the powers that be didnt know what to make of her. She was mixed race (Somali-British), chubby and fancied day-glo clothes much as vot we now see on mathangi. she wrote and sang against corporations and most recently took a piss at Google to ask for musician royalties. Perhaps too punk for punk, she quit her day job and joined drumroll the Hare Krishna movement. Anyhow, just thought I’d share that. Canadian fans of Alan Cross’ show on the ‘Ongoing History of new music’ – should check out this weeks episode featuring the top ten bands with female singers – Poly features.

    That is all. Back to your regular prgramming.

  14. Besides Poly, don’t forget Aki – who’s in Fun Da Mental and began in Southern Death Cult. There’s also the singer Jaz from legendary post punk band Killing Joke who is half Pakistani.

    There’s two UK Oi! bands called Gun Dog, one of them was white power, but the other had two desi members in it. Tariq from Gun Dog told me there were a few other Skinheads in the UK who were of desi decent.

    Today it’s almost impossible to reign in on all the desis who have played in punky bands, there’s too many of us.

  15. Aki Nawaz is another reactionary ‘angry muslim man’ who spat hate on Salman Rushdie and does apologia for violent racist right-wing jihadi fanatics. Seriously, this whole thing stinks to heaven.

  16. There’s also the singer Jaz from legendary post punk band Killing Joke who is half Pakistani.

    No. His mother is Indian.

    Coleman was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England to an English father and an Indian mother who are both school teachers.
  17. Basim… rumor has it you once threatende to blow up a gay-friendly mosque? Is it true?

  18. its not a bad stereotype, but i defntley think the bangla crowd is way mroe edgy than the rest of the subcontinent. at least they’re hitting way above their weight. another local example is Lal. i remember an interview in now mag where thhey explored how 9/11 changed the world view, at least on the brown/immigrant/muslim/shitkicker side of the fence. i keepp and ear to the dground but i’m not realyy anti-establishment. i just want to make gobs of money and eat samosas with hot alloo filling and tamarind chutney mmmm.

  19. just want to make gobs of money and eat samosas with hot alloo filling and tamarind chutney mmmm.

    bacon samosas are punk

  20. after an exchange with Ms Bess (on another forum) on girls who rock, I took it on myself to do some digging. Here’s an interesting example which will appeal ot all ye people of punk or hindu or multiculti persuasion. The Talented Ms Poly Styrene was the lead for the punk band Xray Spex in the late seventies and the powers that be didnt know what to make of her. She was mixed race (Somali-British), chubby and fancied day-glo clothes much as vot we now see on mathangi. she wrote and sang against corporations and most recently took a piss at Google to ask for musician royalties. Perhaps too punk for punk, she quit her day job and joined *drumroll* the Hare Krishna movement. Anyhow, just thought I’d share that. Canadian fans of Alan Cross’ show on the ‘Ongoing History of new music’ – should check out this weeks episode featuring the top ten bands with female singers – Poly features. That is all. Back to your regular prgramming.

    Several famous and/or semi-famous musicians have aligned themselves with the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), ever since the 60s when the founder, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada stayed at John Lennons’ house. The Beatles donated one of their properties to him and it has since functioned as The Bhaktivedanta Manor of England. It’s a Hare Krishna Temple and Hindu Cultural Center. George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord was written about Krishna and served as one of “the movements” items they peddled along with incense, candles, stickers and books in parking lots all across – well, the world.

    Whats her name? Sweet Dreams Are Made of These, woman… anyway, you know her, short hair… um, anyway, she MARRIED a Hare Krishna follower (I’m pretty sure they are divorced though), and I think it was her guitarist.

    There are several others – Chrissy Hines of the Pretenders did not join ISKCON but she took Vaishnava initiation from an Indian guru in India, for example.

    Annie Lenox! The Eurythmics! That was it. Just remembered.

    Famous British actress Haley Mills from the original movie about two twins who try to reunite their divorcing parents – what was the name? PARENT TRAP. Her son became a famous (in UK) musician and he also took vaishnava initition in India from the same guru and Chrissy Hines. Can’t remember his name though, Crispian. Crispian Mills.

    Krishna attracts musicians for some reason.

  21. “Basim… rumor has it you once threatende to blow up a gay-friendly mosque? Is it true? “

    Naw, Siraj Wahaj – an Imam from Brooklyn said he would burn a gay-friendly masjid down. It prompted a musical response from us, “Rumi was a Homo”.

    Tu nay kakh vi nai sikkhi?

  22. Yeah Basim, but Rumi is not considered a “real muslims” by such folk, so him being a “homo” would just kind of proove their point – you know, that bid’ah such as Sufism lead to sins like homosexuality, or that homosexuality leads to bid’ah.

  23. Yeah, but I don’t sing my songs to disprove fundos. I sing my songs to find people that think like me. I read too much Bulleh Shah.

    You take it to the Punjabi roots, hiko alif, kar katan wal tihaan kuray, and the other poems by Bulleh Shah and it blows this Mullahs out of the water. We can go on, bring on the writers – Sultan Bahu, Sarmast, the list goes on. We’re on that ishq kick, the one that really gets you high. They’ll have to take heads off.

    At the Bulleh Shah minaar in Kasur (just 40 km outta Lahore), it says ISHQ SHARA DA VEIRA AI. Ishq is the enemy of Islamic law.

    Hamara na qanuni walla kaam hai, bhai!

  24. We’re on that ishq kick, the one that really gets you high. They’ll have to take heads off.

    Traditionally, ISHQ has always done more than just “take heads off” (wink).

    At the Bulleh Shah minaar in Kasur (just 40 km outta Lahore), it says ISHQ SHARA DA VEIRA AI. Ishq is the enemy of Islamic law.

    Sounds a lot like the bhakti tradition. Ishq/Prem defies the law, Ishq/Prem fulfills the law – both at the same time.

    At the end of the day, there is no law but ISHQ!

  25. Actually, i do interviews, they usually ignore me though because I refuse to tow the party line. Yeah I said it.

  26. Also Poly Styrene was the only person apparently who actually frightened Johnny Rotten on the regular. Too punk for punk indeed.

  27. Hola there, haven`’t figured out yet about taqwacore but hope its only fun. I’ ve grown up in dirty rotten germany and hardcore and ethnicity are still no use for an answear ( nor thought). too fu**ing few desis over here who are into something else than business and “progess” of that sort. I just wantet too find something about recent punk/hardcore back in india. if anyone knows about good bands, could you post it? cheers, milenge. rick.