Punks Playing Non-Punk Music

I love punk rock. Duh! I made a website about Bay Area punk. But I also like other types of music, and I always enjoy discovering new genres and bands. One of my favorite things to discover is a band or musician that was/is punk but plays non-punk music. These artists bring the punk attitude and spirit to whatever musical genre they are playing.

Sometimes I discover a non-punk band through their punk fans. Other times I discover a band that sounds great and I later learn they have some connection to punk rock. In either case I am always excited about the new discovery.

Here is a list of some of my favorite bands that play music other than punk, but have some kind of link to the punk scene. In no particular order.

From Monuments to Masses

From Monuments to Masses were a Bay Area post-rock band. They played mostly instrumental songs with political samples played over the music. To me they were one of the more unique and exciting bands I got to see. Their album The Impossible Leap in One Hundred Simple Steps really captured the feeling a lot of folks on the political Left had right after the Al Qaeda attacks on September 11th, 2001.

The band signed to Steve Aoki's record label and members of the band were friends with Steve from the punk scene. If you're a fan of post-rock/post-punk (think maybe Fugazi?), give these guys a listen.


Santigold is a female pop artist influenced by new wave music. Before her solo career she was in the Philadelphia punk band Stiffed. Stiffed put out two records produced by Bad Brains bassist Darryl Jenifer.

Her solo stuff is really good, unique pop music with a wide range of diversity in her songs. She's put out some great mix tapes.


Bjork is Iceland's more famous musician. Before she became a world renowned pop star she played in a bunch of post-punk bands, including anarcho-punk band Kukl. Kukl had their record put out on Crass's label.


Babyland were an electronic band that loved playing punk venues, including 924 Gilman St. They were a valuable part of the DIY underground. I don't know enough about electronic music to really feel comfortable labeling them, but I think they could be called industrial.

They also put on on a great live show, which included taking a chainsaw to metal pipes, producing a spectacular shower or sparks on the stage.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Another post-rock band that has also been labeled as "instrumental chamber rock". This is another instrumental band that kind of combines classical music and rock music into something that could be the soundtrack to a movie. The band is well loved by punks and is known for their Leftist politics, even though the songs themselves do not have any lyrics.

The live shows usually include sort other media like a film reel playing images to the music. Instruments include guitars, violins, and drums.

A Silver Mt. Zion

Another post-rock instrumental band with punk members and a punk spirit. This band is similar to Godspeed You! Black Emperor in a lot of ways, so if you like one you will likely enjoy the other. Both are worth checking out.

The World/Inferno Friendship Society

The World/Inferno Friendship Society are a punk rock cabaret band. Think of a rock band with horns and piano with songs about historical figures. Definitely a lot of catchy tunes from this band.


You may remember Chumbawamba as having a couple pop hits a few decades ago. Did you know that they were an anarcho-punk band before their signing to a major label and playing pop? Did you know they were heavily influenced by techno music at one point? Did you know they made folk music after their mainstream success, including a record of traditional English protest songs?

I know punks hate bands that sign to major labels, but Chumbawamba has had such a versatile and rich history spanning to many genres and staying true to their politics, you can't help but respect them. Personally, I think I like their folk songs best, but it's really worth spending a few hours exploring all the different albums that this band put out.

Blackbird Raum

I wasn't sure if I should throw this band on the list. They play old-times instruments like bajos and mandolins, but they are definitely not a folk-punk band. I think I've heard them say that they play crust music on traditional instruments. It's basically a form of punk music, so probably shouldn't be on this list, but I like them and they are so different from other forms of punk that they're worth throwing on here.

I think a lot of bands have been influenced by them, but they were one of the early bands to play this style of music. Influences include primitivist politics and dungeons and dragons.


Trap metal SoundCloud artist ZillaKami was in a hardcore band Scud Got Quayle before moving on to rap and mixing in a metal sound to his music.

Denzel Curry

Rapper Denzel Curry has worked with punk bands Bad Brains and Fucked Up to record a couple of songs. He's played shows with punk band Show Me the Body. Like a lot of SoundCloud artists, there is definitely a punk influence on his music.

Fall Out Boy

This rock band started as a pop-punk side project of a few members of Chicago's hardcore scene. Arguably they are still a pop-punk band, but I think they're more of a pop-rock band at this point in their career, so they belong on this list.