Please introduce your band members by describing the others, not yourself.
Shawna: Brooks plays guitar and loves cut off jean shorts. Nancy plays guitar and puts on makeup. Evan plays drums with his beard. Sue is a ginger but we accept her as one of our own.
How did you find together as a band?
We call Baltimore “Smalltimore” – we all knew each other and prioritized finding people who could play this style of music but also cared about feminism.
Since we are a vegan straight edge feminist zine, what are your attitudes on those three topics?
We respect them! We’re obviously feminist, a few of us are vegan, but none of us are straight edge, just to be super honest about it. But we are totally into people doing what is best for them, especially if it is more environmentally responsible, or helps you become your best self.
You are labelled as a feminist band – which kind of feminism is yours?
INTERSECTIONAL and always trying to do better.
Which of your lyrics are your favorite, i.e. most meaningful to you personally – and why?
Well, every issue we address in our songs means something to me or the band, so it’s difficult to pick a favorite. I was really happy how the lyrics for “Swagger” came together. It’s a fun song to sing.
I love all of your lyrics for their strong, graphic presence, I especially want to talk to you about „Meathead“:
I’ve given all the blood I can spare
It’s coming out my cunt, running down my hair
But these last few pints are mine
Proof that I lived at one time
Faultable Female Form
Even objects get mad.
Done up like a painted bird
It’s a self-imposed Stockholm Syndrome
And when I apply my fave lipstick is it for me or for your dick?
He didn’t want me to want it, but to convince me I needed it.
He is Bob, eager for fun; he wears a smile, everybody run
Even objects go mad
I know what I want, I know what I need
And you say faultable, but I say there’s nothing wrong with me
– is this dealing with the subject of abusive relationships and questioning male dominance in them?
You know, I have no problem letting people take what they want/need out of lyrics. Especially because a lot of the time, my lyrics are about more than one thing and I just try to make it sound cohesive. That is not the original intent of these lyrics, though. It’s still about control over female sexuality, but the suppression of it, or a lack of recognition. Really, it’s about a woman wanting to be sexually active and a potential partner not being interested in her sexually unless he has to “convince” her. Like the fact that she is interested in sex is a turn off for him – which is ludicrous!
Studies show, most women who are killed violently, everywhere on the globe, are killed by their (ex)partners, husbands, brothers, the men in their lives. How can life for women everywhere become more secure?
Well we just need to make the facts more obvious to the world, and stop pretending there is a stranger in an alley waiting to attack us. Once we deal with the fact that the people we know are most likely to harm us, then we can talk about why that is…why aren’t women and girls valued? How can we give them more respect, more humanity? In the meantime, everyone should read up on how to best be an ally to people going through intimate partner violence, because the “right” things to do aren’t always so obvious.
You have a song called YouTube Comments, where you recite comments users made on your own music, I suppose. I have taken on the habit of not reading any comment sections anymore because they are filled with violent hate speeches towards every marginalised group one can think of. Why do you think is social media such a magnet for these kind of people?
The anonymity. It takes no bravery at all to type out all the horrible thoughts that run through your mind when you know there will be no consequences, no one to look you in the eye as you say it….
When talking to Dcist, you stressed her views on the trans community and how it needs all the support it can get. In the interview with CDN you also mentioned it was the riot grrrl movement which brought you to punk music – back then, were you aware of the huge controversy about the exclusion of trans women at their fests and how did you perceive it?
No, I wasn’t aware of that stuff when I was younger. I had cis-privilege in that I didn’t have to think about it, whereas someone who is trans doesn’t have the luxury to not think about it, right? But now that I know, I make sure to help create and support inclusive spaces in any way that I can.
Shawna, you are an ordained minister and plan to perform weddings more often when you are too old to headbang – can you comment on the current state of marriage equality in the United States, please?
We’re getting really close to full marriage equality, which is really awesome. It will definitely happen in the next 5 years, I think. I am super happy for the gay, lesbian, and bisexual communities, but I know there is more work to do. In many states you can still refuse someone a job or housing because they are LGBTQ, and it’s time we start really addressing that.
And you are running the Baltimore chapter of Hollaback! Can you tell us a little bit more about street harassment and the strategies against it. What do you do yourself, when you are catcalled?
I try to say “Hey, that’s street harassment, and no one likes it” but I often just shoot a middle finger. There are many strategies, but the most important thing to remember is that there is no correct response…it’s the behavior of the street harasser that is wrong and needs to change.
Why is punk still a boys club and can that ever change? Girls to the front?
Because the world is a boys club. In any scene we’ll find that in some places, and that is why it’s up to us to change it within our own scenes. If not us, then who?
Which was the most amazing show so far and to which town would you return any time again?
We’ve been lucky to have a lot of good shows, and they’re all a little different. Most recently, we had an incredible record release show in our hometown – tons of people, we booked some amazing bands to play with, got pizza, had a DJ, prioritized female and LGBTQ involvement and inclusion, and it fucking ruled.
You are a band consisting of members of former, well-known bands – is that a shadow you feel behind yourselves sometimes or is it more all the experience you can rely on today?
No, it’s not a big deal at all. It’s such a different band that it doesn’t really matter. We’ve all been touring and playing in bands for years, so it’s nice that everyone knows what they’re doing.
Summer is coming: Best thing about touring? Worst thing about touring?
My favorite part of touring is playing! That’s why I do it, for those glorious and intense 20 minutes on stage, connecting with the band and anyone else watching. The worst thing is wondering if you’ll have enough money to eat or pay for gas.
Last words: If you would meet a group of young kids, let’s say boys and girls around 6 years old, what would you tell them as the most precious help they can get from you for a feminist and free life?
Six is pretty young, so we’d have to keep it a little light – don’t want to scare them! We’d say something about how each one of the kids in that group is different in some way, but none of those ways are a reason to treat them better or worse than anyone else. No one is more special than anyone else, or more deserving of kindness. We should celebrate those differences, but understand that deep down, we are all human, and that is a beautiful thing.