This week's reader question actually started out as a comment. Just when I was thinking of deactivating the entire "comments" set up (because 90+% of the comments that we get here at AAP are either from pornbots, scammers or trolls) someone lobs in a legit point of view and a question. I decided then to bump it up to be an official 'question of the week.' Here it is. Obviously, I have added the "Dear AAP" part just for the sake of form.
Dear AAP -
I don't know where you live or used to live, but I have to call some bullshit on your answer from a few weeks ago. In theory anyone can and should be able to start their own scene in their own town, but if you're from a really small place it can be 100x harder to do. My friends and I live pretty much in the middle of nowhere in a town so small that it barely counts as a town. There is NOWHERE to go to do anything. No coffeeshops. No youth centers. No empty warehouses. There are bars, but none of us is "of age" and those bars are full of the shitkickers and jocks who all hate us anyway. Everyone knows everyone by name here. We are bussed to another town after elementary school because we don't even have our own high school and then, as soon as high school is done, most people LEAVE, unless their family owns land or a farm or something. I don't think you realize how bleak some places are. We would like to do it ourselves but there is nowhere to do it and no one to come and watch you do it either. Really there is nothing. The best we can do is listen to punk rock while we play videogames or skateboard, drink some beer and rarely find some weed, while we count down the years and days until we can get out of here. Clearly you don't get it. What would you tell someone in a town like this? [note: at this point the writer sent me the link to a google map of his/her town. I will admit it was pretty damn bleak.]
Dear Commentator -
You make a valid point. After seeing where you're living (Google streetview never ceases to amaze me) I have a good idea of what you're up against. You are in the "middle of nowhere" in a lot of respects, and yeah, you don't have a lot of the options or infrastructure that most scene DIYers in other places are able to find and take advantage of.
But you're not completely right.
You said you and your friends have nothing with which to create a scene. Guess what? You and your friends are already "the scene" and you don't even know it. When I was a teen in a small town, I didn't HAVE punk rock friends. I had friends, but back then, even my good friends didn't quite "get" what I heard and felt in the music... but you have each other. Answer me this: Why aren't you and your friends already a BAND? You might not have a cool club to play, but you also don't have a lot of snobby scenesters deciding how good your band is (or would be) or how really 'punk rock' you are or are not. You, yes YOU, really get to define what punk rock means for yourselves.
You have $$ for skateboards, videogames, weed and beer, and the luxury of time to sit around and be bored / complain... so why not devote some of that money, time and energy to creating your own music? Buy some cheap instruments, hunker down in someone's basement or bedroom and start making some music of your own? - Learning the basics of "how to play" for our purposes anyway, only takes a few months. You can find free drum, bass and guitar lessons online, and then you're off to the races. You might not have an audience to play for (yet) but your splendid isolation means you do have something else: a distraction-free incubator. ...and if you run into "creative differences" within the group you could all agree form more than one band together. I'm not kidding. Even if there are only three of you, you could make three different bands - each person could be the 'leader' of each one and write the songs for it. They could all be stylistically different from each other. Who knows? How funny would it be to stage your own "Battle of the Bands" and have every band be made up of the same people, but playing different songs/instruments etc?
Put together some songs, record them in your bedroom, put a website together for yourselves and then put your songs (and videos?) online. By the time you're old enough to drive, just maybe you'll have connected with SOMEone, within a few 100 miles who might want to put together a gig with your band(s.)
That is how it is done. Think about and work with what you DO have instead of focusing on what you don't have. From what I saw on Google, you could create some very dramatic visuals using just the cameras on your phones... maybe try doing that and then creating the kind of music that compliments the visuals, or visa versa... I'm trying to tell you that there is no wrong way to do this, do do it all, and I can almost promise you this: When you do graduate and move on to some bigger metropolis, or a college town, a part of you will miss the purity of sitting with your friends, making only the music you love, and dreaming about what's to come.