Punk is Alive and Rebellious in the Carolinas
Growing up in the early 2000s means I grew up in the era of pop; while I love good pop music, my heart belongs to the alternative genres, including punk rock. Although it feels as if the punk scene is shrinking, bands like Fujiwara are keeping the scene alive and rebellious.
Fujiwara formed in 1996 along the coast of Kill Devil Hills, NC and is comprised of Billy Burley (vocals and bass), Chris “Buc” Clemmons (guitar), and Kirk “Skillet” Kellet (drums). The trio’s ReverbNation profile cites their musical influences being Youth Brigade, The Descendants, and Bad Religion. Those are big shoes to fill, and yet I find myself hearing undertones of these bands in almost every song off of their May 2015 EP, Legacy. The band’s name is based on the Fujiwhara Effect, a weather phenomenon, and is defined on their ReverbNation profile header, meaning “when two or more hurricanes combine to create a single and more powerful storm.” It is so fitting for the Carolina trio on multiple levels. On their website, they define their genre as punk, skate punk, and rock & roll. These genres are so stubborn and relentless, they might as well be hurricanes in the music industry; when combined, they create a superstorm of alternative music that is Fujiwara. At the same time, while listening to their discography, I felt like I was emerged in a whirlwind of rebellion and drums.
After poking around their profile and having their latest releases on repeat, their skate punk sound is undeniably original; it comes as no surprise that they have built a reputation among the East Coast surf, skate, and snow community. Perhaps this reputation was built on fast beats or tongue-in-cheek lyrics, but their website claims that many fans feel their live show is “just as notorious as the music itself” (ReverbNation).
Their most popular single, “FTW,” has been featured in several surf videos and is, without a doubt, their best song. Personally, lyrics are an important part of music and should send a message, tell a story, or cause a reaction from the listener; unfortunately for me, many artists don’t feel the same. Fujiwara is not one of those artists. I learned that “FTW” stands for ‘fuck the world’ by the first chorus, but I knew the song was going to fulfill the definition of punk from the get-go. Buc’s catchy guitar hooks and Skillet’s relentless drums send the message that Fujiwara will be themselves unapologetically, as Burley sings “no matter what you say, / I’ll do it my own way.”
My favorite lyric can be found near the end of the song, but it wasn’t until my third or fourth listen that I was able to hear it; “FTW” is 3 minutes of heavy drums and quickly-sung lyrics. I listened to it multiple times because not only did I love the song, but I also needed a few minutes to fully comprehend what I was listening to. Near the end of the song, after a couple choruses of “fuck the world, / I don’t want to hear about it anymore,” Burley sings my favorite lyric: “If you wonder what I’m about, / It’s in my eyes.” In context, this lyric reveals to the listeners that Fujiwara, or perhaps just Burley himself, doesn’t need to explain what they are about; it’s in their music, or it’s in Burley’s eyes. This lyric can be taken out of the song and be applied the same way about anyone and anything. There isn’t a need to to explain what we’re about, it’s in our actions.
Fujiwara’s most recent EP was released in October 2015 through Fringe Records and is entitled Kung Fu Twist. Although the band has been releasing their notorious punk sounds for almost 20 years, Kung Fu Twist is everything punk should be in the modern age. Faster guitar riffs, harder beats, and edgier lyrics keep Fujiwara at the forefront of the Carolina punk scene. They haven’t booked any dates for 2016, the year is still young and I am still excited about Fujiwara’s future.