Text: Terminal-Boredom by Jesse Conway
Crust Pants. What are they? Where do they come from? Where do they go?
Chances are, if you are living in the USA and not in Minneapolis or Portland, you will have no idea what this article is talking about. Don’t be afraid, loyal reader, and follow me on a wonderful journey through one of the many fashion subcultures of a musical subgenre of a musical subculture known as punk. You have probably guessed that the “crust” in “crust pants” is referring to crust punk, that subgenre easily related to people whose main interests are dogs on ropes, panhandling, riding the rails, and stabbing Jack Control. Believe it or not, there are crust fans outside of these pathetic examples of humanity – whether they are more or less pathetic depends on what side you’re on.
We’ll start with “What are they?” – crust pants are generally black jeans (some exceptions are made on the darker end of the blue spectrum) that have been deconstructed to the point of appearing to be constructed entirely of patches – a punk quilt, made into pants, if you will. Now you may be saying, “where did these come from?” – a good question. Historians point to somewhere in the UK in the late 70s, early 80s. Original crust pants were smeared with jam, to stiffen them up and increase dark shininess (sources available on request). What happens when you get married, have a kid, move somewhere where there’s no good gigs, or just graduate university? What are you supposed to do with your crust pants? Some people sell them on internet auction sites, fetching upwards of $200 if they’re lucky, while others seem to appear on homeless men in Japan, so they just go to the trash. You see, there’s no glory in wearing another man’s crust pants (or another woman’s crust skirt), you make your own, you live with them, you die with them, and in between you never wash them but, according to my research, you do occasionally wear other pants to go to work or whatever norms do.
That’s right: I did research on this. No half-baked pseudo myspace-blog personal article writing at Terminal Boredom, no sir. We’re academics with university degrees and student loan payments! The following interviews were held at Practice space/Recording Studio/Live House “Iko Iko” in the America Village section of Osaka, Japan on the night of Saturday, February 28th. The event in question was a regulation crust gig with the following bands: PATRONAGE, KUTSUJOKU, STRANGE FACTORY, DEATH DUST EXTRACTOR, HATSURI, and DEVASTATED GOES. I interviewed some band members as well as regular fans with a set of seven questions specifically about their crust pants:
A: Name? INA69
B: Age? 38 years old.
C: Age of your crust pants? One and a half years old, but these are “version 2.”
D: Do you own more than one pair? This is my only pair.
E: Do you wear them every day? I wear them about three times a week.
F: What are the advantages/disadvantages to crust pants, if any? They’re a little warm, but I get bad looks on the train.
G: Do you have a favorite hole/tear/patch on the pants? CONCRETE SOX patch.
A: Name? Moriki
B: Age? 24 years old.
C: Age of your crust pants? About two years old.
D: Do you own more than one pair? Only these.
E: Do you wear them every day? Just for going out.
F: What are the advantages/disadvantages to crust pants, if any? The advantage is a CRO-MAGNONS patch, but they are too tight.
G: Do you have a favorite hole/tear/patch on the pants? STAGNATION patch.
A: Name? Shiga-chan
B: Age? 42 years old.
C: Age of your crust pants? This pair is 25 years old, but I kinda “reinforced” them about eight years ago.
D: Do you own more than one pair? Two pairs black, one pair blue.
E: Do you wear them every day? I used to be able to, but not anymore.
F: What are the advantages/disadvantages to crust pants, if any? No advantages. They’re cold in winter and hot in summer.
G: Do you have a favorite hole/tear/patch on the pants? BONES patch.
A: Name? Toyokatsu
B: Age? 34 years old.
C: Age of your crust pants? 14 years old.
D: Do you own more than one pair? I’ve got three pairs, but these are my main ones.
E: Do you wear them every day? Just for gigs and going out – not to work.
F: What are the advantages/disadvantages to crust pants, if any? These are really, “my style”, but without them, nobody would know who I am!!
G: Do you have a favorite hole/tear/patch on the pants? The Pac-Man patch.
A: Name? Age
B: Age? 29 years old.
C: Age of your crust pants? 10 years old.
D: Do you own more than one pair? Just these.
E: Do you wear them every day? Only for going out.
F: What are the advantages/disadvantages to crust pants, if any? They fit well, but they’re very cold.
G: Do you have a favorite hole/tear/patch on the pants? The three buckles and AMEBIX patch.
A: Name? Hatanaka
B: Age? 27 years old.
C: Age of your crust pants? 7 years old.
D: Do you own more than one pair? These are the only crust pants. I’ve also got some zip-pants (bondage pants) and straight denim.
E: Do you wear them every day? Every day.
F: What are the advantages/disadvantages to crust pants, if any? After I mend a part, it just falls apart the next day.
G: Do you have a favorite hole/tear/patch on the pants? GLOOM patch.
Now you’re psyched on making your own crust pants, right?? The advantages always seem better than the disadvantages. Lucky for you, Subject 4, Toyokatsu, wrote a short guide on making your own in his band’s zine INSANE NOISE RAID. It was in Japanese only, but again, lucky you, I took a stab at translating it. So, read on for how to make your own crust pants. Send in pictures of the finished product (especially crust skirts) to my address in the contact section of the zine. I’ll put them up in a future article. Look forward to more subculture of a subgenre of a subculture articles in the future.
CRUST PANTS HOW-TO
Do It Yourself for Punx by Toyokatsu
1. You have to use slim fit, black pants for this. Stretch is best! If you can’t find something in your size, just go with whatever works. No matter how many you make, crust pants usually take about five years to find their best size. So grab what you’ve got and let’s get going!
2. Next up, cloth. You need cloth. Gather up stuff from wherever you can. Sakana from ZYANOSE used his school uniform. He had lots of fabric, but because of using it, he always acts like a stupid middle schooler. Be careful! Don’t buy new fabric – use stuff you aren’t wearing now – old work clothes, sweatpants, whatever. This is important.
3. Now we’ll start cutting it all up! Takayama from FRAMTID’s really pretty crust pants look like something from a high fashion boutique – they’re stupid!! He’s stupid!! You don’t want people writing stuff like this about you, so cut however you want. We’ll start with your pants. Open up some holes in each leg – high on the right leg and again around the shin on the right leg. High on the left leg with some smaller holes underneath it. Don’t touch the shin area. Now you want to start cutting up your fabric into various shapes and sizes. Remember: don’t be too perfect about it – whatever shapes and sizes you make will be okay. Do it at random. It takes some real “sense” to get it right, but it’s not that hard. Try changing some colors – but if you overdo it, you’ll ruin the look! To be sure, use black as your main color. Throwing in too much detail is out – it’ll look unnatural or strained. Don’t make yourself look like a cosplayer. That’s the stupidest looking thing.
4. Now let’s add some sexiness! Attach a zipper! Fat zippers, skinny zippers, it’s all good. Next, patches! Put a patch of your favorite band in a place where everyone can see. But, it’s no good if you put too many patches on, so be careful. You don’t want to look like an F1 car, after all.
5. Atmosphere. Let’s make you look creepy. Smear some ink on the pants. Originally, E.N.T. used coal tar all mixed together in big globs. Since we’re noisecore, look like you slept in the dirt. After you’ve finished applying various earthen materials, splash some bleach on the pants. Now they’re starting to look like crust pants!
6. The last step. Go to a show! You need to expose these to all the blood, sweat and tears that you can. If you stand in the back all the time, there’s no way your pants will look as good as if you’re up front enjoying yourself and shedding as much sweat as possible. Enjoy your punk life and live it up! Same goes for your leather jacket and boots – don’t be afraid to get them dirty with other peoples’ juices.
7. Truth is, you’ll get a girl with these! Hahhaa! They’ll know you made these and be into you. I think they’re easily the number one punk item.