Pansy Division – More Lovin’ From Our Oven – Interview

Pansy Division

More Lovin’ From Our Oven (Lookout!)
An interview with Jon Ginoli
by Leggs Marbison

Let’s talk about your Spinal Tap drummer syndrome. You’ve been going through quite a few of them, including the drummer from Thought Industry.
Yeah, what happened was, when we began the band, I had songs and decided to form a band, and found Chris [Freeman, bass and vocals] right away. I put an ad in the paper here, and we found each other immediately, and just clicked well. One ad/one week I found a bass player, and it’s taken five years to find a drummer. We’ve gone through so many because for a long time we were looking for a gay drummer. When that didn’t pan out, because there weren’t so many candidates, we thought, well, let’s play with somebody who’s straight. If he’s cool enough to be in our band and be straight, that’s probably all right. So we played with Dustin from Thought Industry (Kalamazoo’s best band), but that didn’t work out that well. We tried to make it work – he was with us for almost two years – but there’s personal and musical stuff, so we replaced him with Luis (no surname) who’s on the newest songs.

He’s much cuter, by the way.
Well, a lot of people liked Dustin, too, but I agree with you. It took us five years to find the right guy, and Luis is the right guy. He’s going to be with us a long time. Since then we’ve added another guitar player, so now we’re a four-piece. What’s cool about the new guitarist and Luis on drums is that both those guys were Pansy Division fans. When we began it was really hard to convince people. “No, really, these gay punk tunes are going to be popular!” It was most like that with Liam, the drummer who played on our second album. He was straight, and there were a few songs we played that he just couldn’t handle. We said, “look, we can’t be sure, but we really have a gut feeling that things are going to happen, so stick with us.” But after three shows we had to dump him. Three months later we were on tour with Green Day, and he was kicking himself for not believing.

Which songs did he have a problem with?
He couldn’t handle “Anthem” or “Cocksucker Club,” two songs from our first album,Undressed. We still play “Cocksucker Club” sometimes, but these were two of our “key” songs when we were starting out, and he was like, “I just can’t play those!” and we were like “Why not?” It was just too much for him.

Apparently, your sound has changed, if the remake of “Expiration Date” is any indication.
That was an attempt to do something that hadn’t been done before. That song was done – well, we play the song live in its old form, and when we played with Luis, we tried that as something to jam on, and it worked out so well that we completely overhauled it and rerecorded it. One of the things about the new album is that it’s much more diverse than the older ones.

It was compiled from all your seven inches, so you’re getting a lot of different time periods.
Yeah. Like, we did a faux heavy metal single. It wasn’t metal, but we covered metal songs. It was called For Those About To Suck Cock. So that has a certain kind of sound, then the Valentine’s Day single was really pop. Expiration Date was heavy, the Queer to the Core single was as close to hardcore as we get, but then there’s an a Capella song, and that’s what I think is good about More Lovin’… we don’t repeat ourselves. I think that’s one of the reasons we’ve added a second guitar player. I’m a rudimentary guitar player, I can do a few things, but I’m not really versatile in terms of what I can play. And with a new guitar player, I think our sound will really expand. I was kind of limited as a guitar player, and I think we’ve blasted past that.

So what direction do you think you’ll be taking?
I think we’re going more pop, and less punk. We’ve got some stuff that sounds more like Beatles pop than we’ve ever done, but at the same time, we’ve got a new song that’s even weirder than “Expiration Date.” As far as the pop punk thing, More Lovin… takes care of that, but our next one will be using a broader palette.

To get the obvious question out of the way-
Go ahead (laughs).

Now that you’re more successful, and are recognized as “queercore,” are the homophobia levels any different from when you started out?
The only time we’ve encountered problems (except for the rare incident here and there) is when we toured with Green Day, because the crowd wasn’t there to see us. Most of the other shows we’ve played were with bands on our own level of popularity. People would tend to know about us, and not be surprised. The open homophobia level is actually quite low. There may be people who are unnerved by us but I think it’s progressed to the point where you’re not seeing these kinds of attacks. I think people who don’t like what we’re doing understand that it’s not cool to act out. If you had told me that we would play over 500 shows with maybe one incident out of every 100 shows, I would have been flabbergasted at the beginning. Actually, I would have been flabbergasted that we’d play 500 shows! (laughs) If you set aside the Green Day shows, there were no problems. At those shows, there was a mixed reaction. You had some people loving it, our fans who knew the words, and then other people who were not having it and flipping us off. But there have been hardly any shows where it was totally one way or the other.

On the opposite tack, have you gotten many groupies?
We get them occasionally. Our audience is straighter than we would have guessed. It happens sometimes, and it has increased, but I don’t think it’s at the level that some people imagine. But you can always hope, and wish (laughs).