Punks Tell Us the Least Punk Thing They Ever Did

What’s worse? Working as a narc or as a real estate agent?
images of two punk rockers, Frank Turner and Evan James Redsky
Images courtesy of author. 

Two days after my 13 birthday, I tried to cut my own hair. It was a weird time in my life, punctuated by chronic masturbation and an all-consuming anger at well… pretty much everything. My hometown. My parents. Homework. Fascists. The rage was constant and shapeless. I was prone to fits of random yelling and spazzy acts of aggression. One day I’d vent my frustration through cussing out an undeserving classmate, the next by chucking rocks at the supermarket behind our elementary school. On this particular occasion, the totality of my hormonal rage was directed toward my scalp.


I had recently discovered punk music and was desperate to adopt the style of all the other non-conformists. Locked in my family’s bathroom, I hacked at my head with dollar store razor blades. The result was an asymmetrical Devilock. The cut was so poorly executed that not only was it uneven, I had accidentally shaved bald patches throughout. (For all the positive aspects of punk’s DIY ethos there are some things that should absolutely be left to the professionals.) Still, I was extremely proud of my new look. When my grandma saw my locks she started to cry, which—to be honest—was more or less the desired effect. At 13, my haircut stood in place of a personality. My hope is that people would see my hair and instantly recognize that I was a person not to be fucked with. I hoped the world would see me as an individual who had strong opinions about our oppressive government and the sedative qualities of organized religion. A true trailblazer who drew pentagrams on his Five-Star binder and had even tried to skateboard once. This is why I was so surprised when they asked if I wanted to be a nark.

A friend of my parents had accepted a job as the head of Ontario’s Tobacco Enforcement unit. Part of the unit’s mission statement was to stop the sale of cigarettes to minors by imposing heavy fines on offending stores. As such, Tobacco Enforcement had a slew of underage kids on the books, all attempting to buy smokes from local shops. Apparently, my edgy new due made me look far older than my baker’s dozen, and if I wanted a position with Tobacco Enforcement it was all mine.


I was pretty torn. The idea of ratting on my fellow man seemed pretty sleazy. The job, however, paid ten bucks an hour (plus a seven dollar honorarium for dinner). That was exactly ten dollars more an hour than I had ever been paid to do anything in my entire life. After much deliberation, I decided ten bucks an hour was also my going rate for giving up my morals. I had gone from being a punk to being a sellout in about two weeks. I was paid about 300 dollars total for my time as a narc and used the money to buy an Nintendo 64. Working as a narc is decidedly the least punk thing I have ever done. It’s pretty bad, sure, but I was sure I could find worse. Which is why I spent the last few months asking a bunch of punks the least punk thing they’d ever done. You can read their answers below:


Paying any attention to anything that has been said on the PunkNews message boards.Frank Turner


The least punk thing I ever did was open a Money Market account, invest in blue-chip stocks, and get a mutual fund. They’re a very safe and dependable way to grow your money long term. —Benji Madden/Good Charlotte


Agreeing to do this interview —Dave Hause


We deliberately decided not to make a punk rock record this time. We wanted to see what happened. We also spent all day listening to Steely Dan. —Bad Cop / Bad Cop


I have a lot of really unpunk things about me. But I paid for our tour by working as a real estate agent. And as a kid, I took tap dancing lessons but never got good enough to ever get the taps on my shoes. —Drew Thomson/Single Mothers


I love watching the show Nashville and comparing the characters to country artists on the radio. —Pkew Pkew Pkew.


I literally turned thirty, had twins, and bought a house all in the same week. —Larry and His Flask


Wearing a Hello Kitty bathing suit in a hot jacuzzi while eating baby carrots. Or wearing our own band’s merch with our lyrics on the back—on the day our album came out. —The Dirty Nil


The least punk thing I’ve ever done was play Tom Collins in my high school’s senior production of RENT.Evan James Redsky

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This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.