The Ongoing History of New Music, episode 914: The Post-Punk Explosion part 3: Industrial music

By the time we got to the mid-70s, rock had become sufficiently organized so that there were rules. You did things THIS way and not THAT way. Then came punk.

One of the great gifts of punk rock was a reminder that you didn’t have to follow the rules. Once this attitude took hold, things began to fragment, metamorphosize, metastasize, and mutate at an increasingly rapid rate.

The stratification and segmentation were astonishing. Once punk began to cool, the fallout coalesced into what became known as New Wave, an approach that redefined that mainstream rock could sound like. Then New Wave itself began to fragment thanks to technology.

The new, cheaper, portable, and more powerful synthesizer was a godsend. You really didn’t have to know much about music to operate one. You just fiddled with the controls until you found some cool sounds and then organized everything into a song.

As with the original punks, attitude and a willingness to put your music out there were more important than any musical ability–except that instead of using guitars, you did it with this new technology. This was the foundation of what became known as techno-pop which blew up at the end of the 80s.

The momentum was unstoppable. It didn’t take long for techno-pop to separate into different strands which appealed to different people. Some burned out quickly as new variants emerged and then disappeared. But there were also mutations that turned into something so robust and enduring that they still exist today.

This episode is about one such strand that has survived from the post-punk era to today. We call it industrial music.

Songs heard on this program:

  • Nine Inch Nails, Head Like a Hole (Slate)
  • Kraftwerk, Trans-Europe Express
  • Public Image Ltd, Death Disco
  • Cabaret Voltaire, Yashar
  • Depeche Mode, Everything Counts
  • Ministry, Over the Shoulder
  • Skinny Puppy, Dig It
  • Front 242, Headhunter

Need a playlist? Here you go courtesy Eric Wilhite.

The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:

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If you ever miss a show, you can always get the podcast edition available through Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your on-demand audio.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

2 thoughts on “The Ongoing History of New Music, episode 914: The Post-Punk Explosion part 3: Industrial music

  • March 24, 2021 at 12:01 pm
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    Just listened to parts 1,2 and three of your ‘post-punk’ episodes. I am truly confused as to how you could ignore Joy Division, and New Order in relation to electronic music. I don’t know if you are planning to use them later, but Joy Division are considered by many to be ‘the’ post-punk band.

    Reply

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