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Old 04-09-2005, 12:11 PM   #1 (permalink)
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The name "goth" originally came from a Germanic tribe (ie the Goths). The Romans regarded them as barbaric and uncultured, much like the Vandals. "Gothic" was later applied to a style of medieval architecture by critics who regarded it as similarly barbaric and uncultured (something similar happened with the term "Vandal"). The term was later applied to a late 18th/early 19th century style of literature which had a fascination with death and the supernatural.

Exactly how "goth" became applied to the post-punk musical movement is unclear. The earliest use within the post-punk scene is likely to have been either by Martin Hannett, Joy Division's producer, or by Siouxsie and the Banshees in the summer of 1979 (see below). By late 1979 and early 1980, the term "gothic" seems to have been fairly common in music journalism to describe bands such as Joy Division and the Banshees. In 1981 Abbo from UK Decay used the term "gothic" to describe the emerging band movement. Then later, probably about 1982, Ian Astbury used the term "goths" to describe Sex Gang Children's fans. On the surface, there seems to be a clear progression here, with the term gothic/goth being used to describe first individual bands, then a movement of bands, then the followers of that movement.

However, it's not that simple. The term "goth" doesn't seem to have been commonly applied to the movement until some time in 1983, several years after it had originally been used. In early 1983, the most common term for what became the goth movement was "Positive Punk", or later "Posi-Punk", courtesy of Richard North in the NME (February 1983).

Somehow, presumably sometime in 1983, the term seems to have been replaced by "goth".

The first usage of the term "Goths" to describe the members of the subculture which I've been able to uncover is in an article by Tom Vague in the October 1983 re-launch issue of Zig Zag (under Mick Mercer's editorship).

Describing the audience for Death Cult's Berlin show, he says "...and a pretty motley crew they are too. Hordes of Goths. It could be London..."

What seems to have happened is that the term "gothic" had been floating around, was occasionally used to describe bands, and eventually stuck. Alongside this, the fans of these bands were described as goths, probably as a result of comments about Sex Gang Children and their fans.

No individual person was solely responsible, but details of early significant usages are given below:

The Doors

The Doors were described as "gothic rock" in 1967. Interesting, given that a fair few early goth and goth-related bands (such as Joy Division) were influenced by them. Thanks to Nevermort for bringing my attention to this article

Bowie

In 1974, Bowie described Diamond Dogs as being "gothic". Other bands may well have used the term as well, and had it used about them, but given Bowie's undeniable influence on the embryonic goth scene, it's worth noting here. It's remotely possible that Bowie's use of the term may have influenced Hannett and/or Siouxsie.

Joy Division

The first dateable use of the term "gothic" in relation to post-punk music was by Tony Wilson, who described Joy Division as gothic compared with the pop mainstream on a BBC TV programme, "Something Else" (15/9/79), when Tony Wilson and Steve Morris were interviewed. This is unlikely to be the earliest use of it, though.

In a Factory Records interview by Mary Hannon (source unknown, date post-UP, pre-Closer), there is the following passage:

"One clue to JD lies in their album's title. Another is the description given by Martin Hannett, who calls them 'dancing music, with gothic overtones'. Unintentionally, Bernard Albrecht gave an excellent description of 'gothic' in our interview, when describing his favourite film 'Nosferatu'. 'The atmosphere is really evil, but you feel comfortable inside it'."
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Old 04-09-2005, 12:25 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Are you guys still having this debate? I'm actually quite glad you posted this Frost, to be honest I never really understood why you claimed Joy Division were one of the original goth bands. Pretty interesting to see how the link originated. Where did you find your info?
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Old 04-09-2005, 01:08 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Interesting , but i`m still not convinced.

Having 'Gothic undertones' in their sound is one thing , but to suggest Joy Division are a goth band is totally another. You are taking one aspect of their sound & building it up to be more important than the rest.
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Old 04-09-2005, 02:59 PM   #4 (permalink)
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well, really depends on what you view as goth music. if you think hot topic and marilyn manson are goth, then i guess that wouldnt make much sense.
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Old 04-09-2005, 03:09 PM   #5 (permalink)
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must say joy division doesnt fall into my conceptions of the word "goth" but if based on lyric content, i can see how it fits considering ian curtis' torment. most people base their ideas of goth upon image, i admit, i certainly do. but lyrical content is also a factor to me.
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Old 04-09-2005, 03:21 PM   #6 (permalink)
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well, really depends on what you view as goth music. if you think hot topic and marilyn manson are goth, then i guess that wouldnt make much sense.
My definition of goth would come from the 80s movement that my older cousins were into at the time Bauhaus , Banshees , The Mission , Sisters Of Mercy , Southern Death Cult. I can probably see a Joy Division influence in some of those bands but I still don`t think that makes Joy Division a goth band.
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Old 04-09-2005, 03:28 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Well, in the period of their career, the term "goth" wasn't thrown around like it is today, with an associated "image". JD's management referred to them as gothic in comparison to the pop music of that time period. Post punk, new wave, gothic- whatever the hell you want to call it, Joy Division's sound was too original and authentic to be classified so simply. Their music, like alot of you have already implied, probably had a major influence on a lot of the "goth" bands that followed.

BTW, ^Bauhaus=Awesome
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