From Kesha to Heathcliff Berru , the failure of men in music to practice consent and general human decency around women spoke to problems that were far beyond those of simple party lines.
Even in progressive spaces like schools, rampant, perverse misogyny is a serious problem. As with most things, music might be the answer. There are distorted guitars, but there are also squiggly synths, some rapping, and hooks galore.
Well it started as a typo. So I had the idea that I wanted to do a song with that title. When women were treated like shit, that whole Miami Vice era. Even for the old masters like Cohen and Young, it was always really romantic to possess a woman in music.
This is a Josie and the Pussycats level conspiracy theory. I actually did a song from that movie. Father Daughter Records did this compilation series where they had bands cover songs from fictional bands.
The extreme end of that is sex without consent. Shervin Lainez How many times have you heard people boycott movies because of a rape scene? We really sort of glamorize the spectrum of sexuality that comes from people having an unspoken fling, or at the far end of it, these glamorized rape scenes. Even shows that we consider progressive. So I think maybe we just have bad habits and have been trained to tell stories in a certain way. I think less than half the states mandate sexual education whatsoever.
Well 23 is a holy number in the I Ching. When you have something on your mind you start to look for it. But you never intended to make this about yourself, right? Often that assessment is based in misogyny…Pop music can say really important things. Can you tell me a bit about that number you set up, that hotline?
We started this up because we had seen some things at festivals that were distressing to us, and we wanted to provide a way for people in the audience to get in touch with security via us, so that was sort of the impetus behind it. We still have the number up. It seems like some other bands have picked up the hotline since then. I know Modern Baseball has one. Some of the venues that saw us doing this are setting up their own numbers and have started posting safer space policies, which is cool.
I think the main idea was that there were certain guidelines we posted, and since posting them people have told me it never occurred to them to consider some things as unwanted behavior. For instance, touching someone as you walk by them in a crowd. Part of it was just about being mindful of the people surrounding you.
Shervin Lainez Right on! People live there, you can get a haircut in the back. No fighting, no bullshit. And not every place is going to be as good as Silent Barn.
But all-ages DIY communities remain the place where all of these progressive practices continue to thrive. Not a utopia so much as a place where there can be non-binary music, where an academic and a poet can co-mingle. I feel like if we can get that back some way, in some perspective a lot of this violence and bullshit might come to the surface. Silent Barn and the New York venues on the DIY side of the spectrum are often run by people who are political organizers and have a politically invested background where they care about inclusivity and they care about making a safe space.
I think a lot of people drawn to those shows maybe already know about safer space politics. People coming to those shows might never have been exposed to these kind of politics. Certainly there are problems in Punk and DIY, but I think at least people in those circles are somewhat educated on the basic politics of being in an artistic community. Whereas the person who works a nine to five in an unrelated industry and just loves music and only goes to these big clubs might never have even heard of these politics.
Part of why we wanted to start that hotline and post these policies were that those ideas could reach a wider audience. To even get those gears turning for a wider audience.
Is that partly your intention? Yeah, I think I was just having fun with it. I went to grad school for poetry, did an MFA for that, and feel like this is something in poetry—a poet should be in conversation with every other poet.
I just love that idea of art always being in conversation with other art, and a lot of this record was putting myself in conversation with some very mainstream pop music. I guess it was more that these are the topics that are important to me. Your band members have joked in an old interview that your lyrics are so wordy they might as well be hip-hop. So it seems like you took a lot of fringes that you found meaning in and went at interpreted them yourself on this one?
When we reject the genre labels it almost becomes more about the ideas than the shape they take. Singing in the shower, yeah! I have really stupid dance moves, but nobody was watching me do it so I felt really cool. Now everyone has to watch me do it again.