As a junior in college, when Matt Saincome pitched his friends an idea to start a website dedicated to satirizing punk and the DIY scene, they tried to convince him otherwise. “They told me, ‘That’s not going to work man, no one’s going to read that sh*t. You’re going to get beat up. You should not do that. I kind of listened to them… I just kind of put it away,” Saincome — now 26 — tells me over the phone.
It would take two years before he could put the pieces together and launch The Hard Times, the notorious site marketed toward punks. “There’s all these people like me out there, I assume, and they’re not getting the satire for them. There’s satire for normal people, for people who want to mow their lawns or raise their kids or whatever. But that’s not for people that spend all their time at DIY basement shows,” Saincome recalls of his thought process when starting the site.
For someone unfamiliar, it might be worth asking why the DIY punk scene is worthy of so much attention, satirical or otherwise. Is there really that much to discuss? Over the phone, Saincome and I immediately bond over our shared history growing up in the punk scene, the ways that it molds our outlook on the world, and most importantly, the ways we can relate to one another despite our physical distance.
“You and I haven’t met before, but we’ve both thrown shows,” he said. “The weird part about life is that a lot of people are really similar in these ways that you and I probably have a lot of really similar experiences. I can make these jokes about what happens when all the bands think someone else is bringing the drum kit or whatever, and you’ll understand it in a way that it’s almost like we’re friends, even though we’ve never talked or anything like that.”
It also helps that people take punk values and aesthetics very seriously. It’s for this reason, Saincome thinks, that The Hard Times is able to be so successful: the comedy basically writes itself. “It’s kind of a reason why Saturday Night Live, when they do a lot of jokes, they’ll go for stuff like a presidential press conference or something,” he explained. “That’s a pretty serious environment. Whenever you can create a tension of seriousness, there’s some good comedy there. All these punk bands are like ‘we’re saving the world!’ Yeah, but you’re in a basement in front of 30 people. Are you? Are we? Am I involved?”