Backdoor Men

Pansy Division takes its queercore aesthetic into the realm of mature pop-rock

R: So you're hoping people won't see this as a "gay record"?
J: I think this new record is more easily heard as a universal record. The queer themes are there, but they're not as essential; you can find the context without being hit by it in every song. It just sounds more like a pop record or a rock record without any prefix to it, a queer-pop record or a queer-rock record. I think we can put our record alongside other good records, and we'll sound really strong both technically and the music coming out of it, so I think we have a good chance of doing really well with this record. When you're on an independent label, there's so many different factors, so I'm hoping that having a certain amount of publicity about it will enable people to check it out, especially because we're on our sixth record. By the time you've made six records, you've got a reputation, like, I know what this band is like, do I need to pay any attention to them anymore? And what we've really done, adding a new drummer and second guitar player, is we've really reinvented our sound. It's like the beginning of our second career. In the first career, we were busting out of the closet door, saying, here, we're Pansy Division, we're gay and we don't care what you think. Here, it's, like, we've done that, and now we're making music that doesn't insist on this kind of sexual identity to be successful.

Bikini Kill's Ruin: In the 1990s, no other punk band revolutionized the genre as much as Bikini Kill, the riot-grrrl progenitor whose sometimes crude, sometimes touchingly beautiful songs about issues of sexuality and abuse inspired grrrls worldwide to pick up guitars and rock.

In February of this year, BK officially split, leaving behind a legacy of three full-length records and three seven-inch singles. As a final salute, Kill Rock Stars has released The Singles, with all the seven-inch tracks on one CD. Included are three of Bikini Kill's best, the Joan Jett-produced "Rebel Girl" (BK's thematic anthem) and both songs from the "I Like Fucking"/"I Hate Danger" seven-inch.

Fans of BK and owners of the aforementioned singles who are embittered by the permanent lack of new Bikini Kill material can soon rest easier; frontwoman Kathleen Hanna has reemerged in the persona of Julie Ruin. Kill Rock Stars will have her self-titled LP on the shelves this month; it's a 15-track collage of drum-machine beats and primitive samples over repetitive guitar/bass lines that rides the fence between art-rock and new wave.

Hanna's apparently evolved comfortably into the role of artist, as the accompanying publicity sheet explains that "the tension created in the listener as a result of not being able to decipher a singular message may in fact be 'the point.'" Hmm, pretty heavy. (Kill Rock Stars, 120 N.E. State Street, #418, Olympia, WA 98501.)

Contact Brendan Kelley at his online address: bkelley@newtimes.com

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