Phoebe Bridgers (center) and Matt Berninger (second from right) teamed up to record  "Walking on a String," one of the best songs of October.

“The Hard Times” is a punk rock-themed online magazine with a highly satirical side. Although the magazine was founded in 2014, its editors and co-founders Matt Saincome and Bill Conway recently published a book called “The Hard Times: The First 40 Years,” and National Public Radio interviewed the pair. The book is generating an excellent buzz so far among critics.

Poking fun at seriousness

Punk music and culture is known for its angst and sincerity and also for the devotion of its fans and musicians to the genre. As such, the whole scene can be taken a little too seriously by those within it, Saincome and Conway point out, and it is ripe for satire. The two explain that they like to take the hyper-masculine element of punk and make fun of it. They also like to play with the idea that everyone at a punk show, both bands and fans, are supposed to be misfits but at the same time look and behave similarly to one another once the beat starts up.

A radical idea

The pair said that when they first began talking with friends about the idea of creating a website where the punk scene was satirized, there was concern that the punks being made fun of might lash out at the editors. There was a danger that the joke wouldn’t go over well and actual violence would ensure. Thankfully, the pair said, this hasn’t been the case and the punks that make up the website’s readership don’t mind being ridiculed a bit, especially when the authors of the articles are clearly punk fans themselves. All the same, if they are writing about an especially controversial topic in the punk community, the pair said, they don’t use bylines.

Universal themes

The NPR interview mentioned an article that she liked about a fictional punk fan who turns into a pedantic jerk on the subject of punk music whenever he is around an attractive girl. The authors point out that you often meet such pompous individuals at DIY punk basement shows, but you can also meet them at mainstream art galleries and many other places. The point is that the satire, while about the punk scene on the surface, is universal and often a commentary on human nature as a whole, and, for the most part, the punks portrayed like what they see.