The first punk rock bands emerged in Canada during the late 1970s, in the wake of the US band Ramones and the UK bands Sex Pistols and The Clash. The Viletones, The Diodes and The Demics from Toronto were among the pioneers, together with The Skulls (featuring Joey who would go on to form DOA, and Wimpy (Brian Roy) who would lead The Subhumans) from Vancouver, and Hamilton’s Teenage Head, whose records and live shows earned them the nickname “Canada’s Ramones”. Vibrant local punk scenes sprung up in Toronto and Vancouver and other Canadian cities, however as the movement was increasingly infiltrated and co-opted by “New Wave” type bands, by 1980/81 hardcore emerged as a way to separate “true” punk bands from the “New Wave”, “power punk” and “pop punk” pretenders.
Early Toronto punk bands included Viletones, The Diodes, Michaele Jordana and The Poles, The Ugly, The Cardboard Brains, The Mods, The Secrets, and The Scenics, and these were followed by The Demics, Crash Kills Five, Stark Naked and The Fleshtones and L’Etranger, plus Hamilton’s Forgotten Rebels. In Vancouver DOA and The Subhumans led a 1978-79-80 scene that included Pointed Sticks, Braineaters, Young Canadians, The Reactors and The Modernettes. A few years later and many bands across Canada were carrying the punk torch, including Young Lions, Youth Youth Youth, Bunchofuckingoofs, SNFU, Dayglo Abortions, Montreal’s The Nils, Direct Action, APB, Nomeansno and Chronic Submission.
Two of the biggest early punk shows in Toronto were The Last Pogo at the Horseshoe tavern in 1978, featuring Teenage Head, The Viletones, The Scenics, The Cardboard Brains, The Secrets, The Mods, and The Ugly, and the Rock Against Radiation concert July 19, 1980 at Nathan Philips Square, featuring DOA, The Viletones, and The Forgotten Rebels.
Canadian hardcore punk originated in the early 1980s. D.O.A. are known as the first Canadian hardcore band, and with the release of their album Hardcore ’81 they set the standards for the style of music. That album title is considered to be the origin of the term hardcore punk.
Toronto, Ontario, one of my hometowns – Wilhelmina McFadden! – The punk tradition has carried on in Canada right up to modern bands like Fucked Up, The Salads, The 3tards and Billy Talent.
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