August 14th, 2015 by Layla
Interview by Brontez
MRR: Do you remember the first gay punker you knew or saw or made an impression?
Paul:I didn’t know any gay punkers. I didn’t know very many gay people let alone punks.
MRR: You can’t remember a first one? I know it’s a hard question; the first one I met was a bitch, so I don’t really count him
Martin: There was one in Chicago who I met when I was into the scene already. He was really cool; his name was Mark Ruvolo—he was in that band No Empathy, and he does a label called Johann’s face. I remember talking to him, and it was pre-me coming out of the closet, me being, “that’s cool man, that’s cool that you’re gay.” I was trying to talk to him, and we’d always see each other at shows, he was an older punk, and he’s still around. I thought that was really awesome. I remember having a conversation with Dan Vapid from Screeching Weasel about what he’d do if he saw two guys making out at a show, and this was pre-coming out, and he was like “I don’t know it’d be kinda weird.” I said if people came after them I would defend them. We were talking about this, we had this weird conversation—I was like why can straight punk kids make out at a show and not queer punk kids. I had discussions with people. But I think the first person I could really have a coming out picture with was Mark Rovulo.
Andrew: In Philly there was this group called the Cabbage Collective that put on shows at the time; this was the early to mid-’90s, where there were lots of people sitting down at shows watching bands thrash around and stuff. It was a little weird sometimes, but they were very into being non-aggressive, women friendly and gay positive, so they created this atmosphere that was accepting. I don’t really know how many gay people were there, but there were other people that were out, like Shawn Gustilo who had written stuff for the Give Me Back comp back in the day. He would be around, and he was gay—that was when I was nineteen or twenty, that was when I had just kinda come out too. So I didn’t know anyone before that. That’s for sure.
MRR: I wanted to ask y’all that for obvious reasons, but I also was thinking about the first time I heard about you guys. I had just moved from Chattanooga to Bloomington to be with my boyfriend, and Bloomington was a town where people left their front doors unlocked, and this other gay dude came in the house to re-steal the Limp Wrist record he had loaned to my boyfriend but he didn’t know we were there and then we had a threeway.
Martin: I remember getting letters from you Brontez.
MRR: From Chattanooga?
Martin: No. Where did you live before?
Martin: Yeah Alabama
MRR: Thanks for writing me back… I needed it man! Have you ever fought over boys, or do you all have different types
Martin: I think Scott and I are more aligned type wise. I’m such a fuckin’ serial monogamist that he can go for it if he wants
MRR What’s monogamy?
Martin: I get in relationships, and I’m a loyal sort of person so I stick with it…
MRR: You’re “sorta” loyal?!?! (lots of laughter)
Martin: I’m loyal! I stick with that person, you’re like boring.
MRR: No, I’m sure it cuts down on problems
Martin: I had my share of problems when I first moved to town and I was single. I got tired of waiting on the steps of the Center for Disease Control for the doors to open so I could get tested for shit, I was like, “I’m over this.”
MRR: I’m kinda over it.
Scott: Have I ever fought with my band-mates over a dude? No.
MRR: Would you?
Paul: What if both you and Martin were macking on the same guy at a show. How do you decide?
Martin: Toss of a coin?
Andrew: Cause you know I’m not going to be fighting for whoever you guys are with. We just know that
MRR: Threeways are out of the question right?
MRR: I thought so like last week me and my best friend had a threeway, and we did not touch each other. The other guy was so freaked out. It’s like a code—a real code—people think it’s all “cool” but it’s not
Scott: Me and my friend did that. We fucked with this guy in the back of his Airstream trailer.
MRR: what’s an Airstream trailer?
Scott: you should know. You’re from down south.
MRR: Oooooooh, that shit!!! That’s hot
Scott: Me and my friend didn’t touch each other
MRR: Is that progress? Like you’re with your gay buddy only to act like a straight dude.
Scott: Who says it’s progressive?
MRR: You’re right, we don’t have to be progressive, we can stay right where we are. I was thinking about it too hard
Scott: I could have said nothing and made the interview more boring. Why you coming down on me?
MRR: I’m not trying to be critical I got no opinions. Lets talk about the new record
Scott: I like it. It’s pretty good.
MRR: What were the unique challenges? I know you all live in separate places…
Scott: At one point I got sick of my job so I quit. I’d been coming to San Francisco a lot for a couple of years and Martin and I would write songs together. Or I’d get a phone call at 7am, “Here’s the riff,” I’m like “I’m fucking sleeping, leave me voice mail.” So basically we worked on stuff here, and in Portland and I came and visited Paul, went and visited Andrew when I quit my job, and then Martin came to the East Coast, and we solidified the songs we recorded.
Andrew: We had a band practice before we were on tour in Australia, we practiced a couple of days in Australia, and just worked on new stuff. It’s crazy being jet lagged and having practice, like where am I?
Martin: and then I’d be a complete ass, and step in like (princess voice) “I don’t like this,” which snowballed into a huge fight.
MRR: Band fights are awesome.
Andrew: You don’t have to live in the same city as your band to have a fight.
MRR: With the scene y’all are in, which I guess can sometimes be hyper masculine, what are the things you do to negotiate that space? Do you feel there’s a need to negotiate anything or do you just feel at home?
Martin: I don’t even think it’s us negotiating it. I think people negotiate their own space. Women who come to the shows do that for themselves also, and we don’t make decisions for anybody. I think if there’s violence, or some super tense situation, the band just acts as the soundtrack to that, like if a fight breaks out we’d stop. I think things are really fluid, like life is really fluid and I don’t think we need to control any of it unless it gets really out of hand, that’s when we’d all agree, “oh this isn’t cool.”
Paul: There haven’t really been problems at shows we’ve done. I can’t really remember everything.
Martin: There have always been women and queers coming out to our shows, even though we tend to be more of an aggressive fag band I think it still appeals to a wide range of people. So everywhere we’ve been there’s been every kind of person there, even though there might be some tough guy dude that might really like us and that’s straight or whatever, there’s the opposite end that likes us too. So they share the space
MRR: Even when I lived back down South I’d always meet heshed-out straight dudes that were like, “Yeah dude, I listen to Limp Wrist I’m down.”
Scott: I think it’s important for people if they want to be somewhere, or if you want something, you make it your fucking self. You don’t whine that it’s not for you, you make it for you, you know what I mean?
MRR: Like if you live in Antarctica, and you want to break into the American Top 40 hip hop like, don’t let that stop you!
Andrew: That’s a lil far fetched!
Martin: I think that because we’re involved in the punk scene that you hear more about that dialogue, but there are things and situations that are even more difficult than punk than to survive ya’know? When I was growing up there was this gangster girl, and I don’t want to call her girl even—we called her Porkchops—and Porkchops was a lady Deiciple and she hung out on the corner with all the dudes. She pumped iron, she would go shirtless; that’s how built she was and street. That was Porkchops. Porkchops was a hardcore gangster on the Southside of Chicago and she like, made her fucking space. She didn’t give a fuck about what any of the gangster dudes said, and it’s like coming from queerness and coming from punk I walk through the gay world, and I’m like fuck this shit. I think it’s the punk side of me that’s a fighter, and I think queer punks have to be even stronger you know what I mean, not like physically but like mentally. You make your space that’s how I see it. I see someone like Porkchops and I’m like damn. if Porkchops can do it…
Scott: It’s like with some of the ’90s politics and like now with all this safe space bullshit, like I don’t give a fuck about that. It doesn’t appeal to me, like punk doesn’t always have to be safe. Somewhere along the line this thing happened where everything had to be this safe zone
MRR: The world isn’t built for us to be comfortable all the time.
Scott: and if you want to be there enough you’ll fight to be there
Martin: Don’t make bubbles, burst them. That’s what people learn—you don’t bubble. I think a lot people in punk do that, they hide out. Even back when Los Crudos played and people would create a space for people of color, I was like nuh-uh I’ve been living in a ghetto most my life I’m not going to be ghettoized in the punk scene fuck that
MRR: What was you thing against it?
Martin: I just felt like if I went into a punk space, I didn’t want someone to create a separate room for me to be invisible again and not amongst the mass. I think visibility and being out amongst everybody breaks shit down. Isolation is not going to get us anywhere—that’s with people of color, that’s with queerness and everything
MRR: I’m with that point, but I have wanted to sit in a space with other queers of color, and it’d be assuming a lot to say that we’d even agree with each other, but it was when I was in places where the dominant white voice was a lot different than here in California. Where you just didn’t want to deal with some big ass redneck dude saying all kinds of crazy shit to me, but again having to deal with both ’cause that’s where I was…
Martin: But we search for our alliances we always do
MRR: they come form everywhere
Martin: Again I think the separate room thing is weird. I’ve always thought it was weird
Paul: You making it a point to hang out with other kids of color and other queers like that’s your choice. What Martin was talking about was a bunch of white people being like, “oh we’ll help you out by giving you your space.” It wasn’t like a transfer of power or a realignment of roles it was people trying to deal with their white guilt.
Scott: It’s like if I have so many allies in this room, why am I not getting my dick sucked?
MRR: so you’re not really into “safe words” either, huh?
Scott You can’t really talk with a ball gag in your mouth…
MRR: How do you interpret the homo-core scene these days?
Martin: I don’t think there’s a, quote unquote, scene. I used to go to the homo punk shows in Chicago and Los Crudos was asked to play a homocore show once, and that was cool. That seemed like more of an organized scene of people from all over the country that were doing stuff, it doesn’t seem like that really exists so much anymore and I think it’s really dissected. I think there’s a lot of queer stuff happening, but its almost like a reflection of how the punk scene is where everything at one point was under one roof—straight edge or super fast thrash or hardcore. It seems like the queer thing has spread out as well, and there’s electro kids that still identify as punk and definitely have their roots in punk, but are doing more dance-y stuff. I don’t think there’s an organized thing going on that existed in the past. It was a presence and it’s just not there anymore, it’s just spread out stuff happening.
MRR: Does that bum you out?
Martin: No I think it’s cool that people are doing their thing, and hey man just try to catch as much of it as you can… It’s all over the place.