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Perhaps you might have heard The Ramones, Black Flag, Iggy and the Stooges, or the Sex Pistols, and maybe you want to emulate their aggressive musical approach, intense, superfast, and packed with socio-political themes. Of course, these bands typify the punk or punk rock genre, and if you want to sing punk, you might as well learn from these masters. But what is punk or punk rock?
Well, it is a music genre that began in the mid-70s. It is rooted in the garage rock of the 60s. Moreover, it is a reaction to the so-called excesses of the popular or mainstream rock of the 70s. As such, it maintains short and fast-paced songs characterized by hard-edged melodies, stripped-down instrumentation, and reactive lyrics. It also embodies a DIY ethic. Hence, if you want to sing like a real punk, you need to sport this DIY ethic.
Techniques You Need to Know to Sing Punk
Punk vocalists seem to embody truth. They seem to project a unique and authentic voice, characterized by a heavy emphasis on consonants and a hard-edged singing style. If you are desirous of singing punk, it will help to know the following techniques on how to sing punk:
Use Head Voice When Singing Punk
You do not need to hire a vocal coach to sing punk. You only need to learn the correct placement of your voice to sound like a punk vocalist. You can’t sound punk if you use your chest voice. The trick is to use your head tone when singing to sound like a punk vocalist.
Head voice relies heavily on the cavities or open spaces at the back of your mouth and throat. When you have this voice placement, your voice sounds cleaner and higher. Moreover, your voice sounds free and easy to listen to. Besides, when singing using your head voice, you don’t feel any strain, and your singing becomes effortless.
Learn to Yell in The Punk Way
Since reactive lyrics more often characterizes punk music, if you want to sing punk, your voice should also be edgy. Moreover, you should amplify it as if you are yelling. After singing, your throat should feel like it is wide open. Punk vocals seldom move up and down, nor do they play on notes. It does hang on specific or certain notes.
Moreover, vocal acrobatics is non-important for punks. What is vital to punk vocals is the volume of the vocals. Other punk bands thrive on “screamo” or progressive hardcore. Screamo is a variation of vocalization and is sometimes referred to as “screaming.”
Singing Out Loud
Punk vocalists appear like reclusive and eclectic vocalists. But when they sing, they sing proud and loud. They project their voice across the venue, and they are successful in doing. So, if you want to sing punk, you need to learn how to project and amplify your voice.
Remember that punk singing is dependent on volume. It will help you learn how to sing through your throat and nose instead of your chest to boost your voice. Let out your voice but appear to do it effortlessly. You need to amplify your voice without straining your vocal cords.
Before singing, you can do a soundcheck to ensure that the sound levels are correct. Sound-checking also ensures that your vocal mixing has enough reverb to add fullness and depth to your overall sound. In this way, your audience can easily hear your voice over the instruments.
Master the Punk Rhythm
When singing punk, it will help to know that pitch and diction don’t matter much. What matters is the rhythm. Try to hit the first notes and words hard and with confidence, then clip the ends as if you are plucking and muting a string. Practice singing swiftly for a punk song is more often fast.
Sing with a Sneer or Contempt
Punk vocalists more often sing as if they are sneering. Their face and vocals are usually characterized by a certain sense of contempt, as if they are joking, but you can’t get their joke. It is the kind of contempt or sneering characterized by a certain coolness. Punk lyrics, of course, can carry and convey emotional or serious lyrics. Punk singing can also appear to be fun.
Master that Twang
When singing punk, you should develop that particular nasal-sounding technique sported by Tom Delonge, for example. If you got an American accent, you would not have a hard time letting it twang out. But if you are not, you need to develop that bright and nasal-sounding twang.
Learn How to Handle the Mic the Punk Way
When singing punk, you need to utilize the mic well. Moreover, learning the mic technique is essential for punk singing. Punk vocalists usually have a way of focusing their sound onto the mic, which others could not. Their voice may be quiet acoustically, but it still rattles the PA. The thing is, you should imagine your voice like a laser and the mic as your target.
Distort the Mic
When singing punk, you need a mic that is a bit distorted. You can add a bit of gain or reverb on the mixing to make you sound like a real punk. Punks consider their voice like an instrument on stage. They use their voice to produce sound than to relay a message. They are oblivious, however, of conveying their message clearly.
To achieve a bit of distortion, you can approach the sound engineer and request him to make some adjustments to the vocal mics. You can likewise bring your mechanical vocal enhancer to ensure that your voice will come out punk-sounding.
Additional Tips on Singing Punk Song
Since punk emerged from the garage rock of the 60s, and it was a reaction to the perceived mainstream rock’s excesses of the 70s, it tends to be devoid of sophistication and refinement. It sports a character that rejects the conventional and rejects the status quo. As such, it should be emotional and natural-sounding, devoid of the sophistication of the mainstream.
Hence, when you sing punk, your singing should sound authentic. If there are finesse and artifice in your performance, then the punks will boo you. They will throw bottles at you, just like what happened to some of the bands we used to have gigs with. The punks will readily notice if you are only trying to sound punk.
When up there on the stage, do not feign a smile that is not authentic. Don’t try to be a pleaser who wants to please anybody. Remember that the punks will not appreciate that. Instead, they will readily notice that you are only feigning and being inauthentic.
You should be as raw as possible and as authentic as you can. Punks likewise have their own patented getup. So, if you would ever try to cross the line and perform in front of punks, make sure that you heed the abovementioned techniques.
If you are aching to become a punk star, you might as well take to heart the abovementioned techniques. You can watch how the great punk front men strutted their ware onstage and how they were able to mesmerize the adoring fans of punks.
Being punk is a way of life and a way of thinking. You can never achieve a certain level of authenticity as a punk if you are not rebellious in their heart. If you want to sport a genuine punk attitude on stage, watch the masters and check out the top punk bands that had graced the stage. As you watch them, you will subconsciously imbibe the attitude of a real punk.