“The future of pop punk has to be inclusive”: Action/adventure on POP Punk in Color
To celebrate the release of their brand-new EP, Pulling Focus, Action/Adventure dropped in to chat to us about the vital message threaded through it and the importance of diversifying the scene.
While you’re here, check out our review of Pulling Focus.
Words: Renette van der merwe
Photo: Chris Anderson
Firstly, Pop Punk in Color is a great insight into your lived experience, so we thank you for your honesty. For people who’ve not seen it yet, do you want to tell them a little bit more about the message behind it?
Pop Punk In Color is really about bringing diversity and inclusion to the alternative music scene. As people of color who have grown up in the alternative music scene we would often feel out of place when attending shows. Not only did most artists not look like us, but you could usually count on one hand the number of other people of color in the room. These experiences can seed doubts and be discouraging. We really want to show people that music is all inclusive. It doesn’t matter what you look like or the way you speak. Music should bring people together and you should never judge a book by its cover.
As in life, the music industry and people within it have set these preconceived notions of what skin colour means, but then rock ‘n roll originated in black communities right. Why do you think then that it’s so hard for people to understand diversity in this scene?
There are really two parts to this. First of all, there is far less rock music in the mainstream now and I feel that a lot of it has to do with the mainstream media in the 90s. Looking at popular music today, most of it is derived from rap, hip-hop or r&b which is a far cry from how it was in the late 90s and 2000s. Secondly, while there used to be a lot more rock bands in the mainstream there still were not hardly any people of color in those bands. The labels really spoon-fed everyone the image of what a rock band should look like and which demographic of people should be listening to it. There was this huge push for that POCs listen to rap/hip hop and everyone else listens to rock and country and it just kind of stuck.
Throughout the documentary you talk a lot about not wanting to be put in boxes. Do you think those boxes influence the way you create or play music? Is it something that’s constantly in the back of your mind?
Oh definitely. There are absolutely things we’ve dealt with that influence the way we approach creating and playing music. One thing that really affects me is that I always feel like I have to perform at 110%. It’s almost as if I have to prove that I belong where I’ve gotten to. I always feel that people almost expect us to not be as good because of the way we look so there’s a feeling that we have a much smaller margin for error than your typical band. The same things apply our song writing. To us though, this is how it’s always been so I’d say we’re pretty used to it by now.
Given how big the social reaction was to Pop Punk in Color, do you think there’s a change coming in the scene? That people of colour playing alternative music will become a normalised thing?
As a scene we’re definitely on the cusp of change. Looking at ourselves and other up and coming bands like Magnolia Park, Pink Shift, and Meet Me @ The Altars, and waves of support we have gotten, is incredible. Everyone is out here doing big things and showing just how important representation is. The future of pop punk has to be inclusive. If it isn’t then the genre is going to die.
How proud are you of the fact that you’re forging a path for people who look like you to accept that they can exist in whatever space they choose?
Honestly we’re beside ourselves. The fact that we’ve been giving this opportunity, this platform to reach so many people is amazing. Everyday we read comments on our videos or TikToks that talk about how great it is to see people who look like them and, likely, have similar life experience to them playing the music that they want to listen to. One person told us that their parents told them that Pop Punk wasn’t for them because there weren’t any bands that looked like them so they couldn’t relate to the music and should stop listening. They went on to tell us how grateful they were that they could finally show their parents this type of music being played by someone who looked like them to prove the point that its for anyone and everyone. These are the types of comments that really hit for us and inspire us to keep going.
What’s the next step for Action/Adventure?
We’ve got our New EP Pulling Focus dropping today on Pure Noise Records and we couldn’t be more excited to share these new songs with everyone. We’re hoping that shows come back before the end of the year and that we can get out on road and meet all of our new friends and fans. Other than that we’re just going to keep doing our best to write some bangers and hit the studio sooner rather than later.
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