Last Summer I was travelling Switzerland by train. All boringly predictable until a young guy stepped in. He couldn’t have been older than 25 and what instantly surprised me was that he was wearing a Wire T-shirt. Not just any Wire T-shirt, but a T-shirt of their iconic debut album ‘Pink Flag’ (1977).
I say it surprised me but actually it shocked me and made me think. Are Wire T-shirts still in production? Do young people still listen to Wire? Do Wire lovers also live in small villages on the Swiss countryside? Was this a lone Wire fan or would he hang out with a bunch of friends, all of the same musical persuasion? Do the people in his village think he’s crazy or are they simply not paying attention to him or his musical preferences?
Probably they did not pay attention to him. Probably he was pretty anonymous in that small village in the middle of Switzerland. It makes you wonder. When I was young, doing all the things you do as a teenager, like going to clubs, adopting a certain lifestyle, wearing clothes that belonged to that lifestyle, I was convinced people were paying attention and actually saw me. Was that a sign of age? Did I, back then, believe more in the power of public appearance than I do now? Did all those thoughts and all those emotions simply erode over time or is there a fundamental difference between living now as compared to 30 years ago? Is it really possible these days to sometimes wear a Wire T-shirt and sometimes go for Taylor Swift? Without being ironic.
When I listened to Wire for the first time as a teenager I didn’t understand their music. It confused the hell out of me. Critics called it one of the most important and influential Punk bands and all I could hear was stylised, abstract and intellectual music. No Punk in my teenage mind. Punk had to be angry, fast and simple. No one prepared me for the ‘Do-It-Yourself’ minimalism of Wire. So far removed from the standard Punk template. It took me a good 20 years. I don’t claim to be fast. I see it now, just like this Swiss kid. He’s a visionary.