BY JOANNA C. VALENTE
If you don't know who Gland is, you should. They're an awesome punk band from New Orleans, and they're music is about to make you care EVEN MORE about the state of the world right now. and that’s all I know about them. Their music rages against structural racism, sexism, and capitalism in a way I haven't seen lately. They told Noisey why they wrote their hit song "Cram It":
‘''Cram It’ is an anthem about being pissed and annoyed, taking fed up feelings and turning them into something we can shout about. When performing this, we daydream of flipping tables, throwing drinks, and being carried out by bouncers while spitting in the faces of those who have wronged us.”
Listen to “Cram It” below, their first single off their debut album Neurotica, which was released this past spring 2016. Bust Magazine even said the song is an "anthem for riot grrrls everywhere." You can get their album here. Check out their Bandcamp here.
You can also watch their video for the song below:
I love all the metaphorical middle fingers up to the patriarchy happening right now. It makes my queer self so happy, I can't even say. I'm also so ecstatic to have had the opportunity to interview Kallie Van Tassel, their lead singer & guitarist.
Here's what Kallie had to say:
How are you dealing with being a musician & artist & human post-election/Trump?
I feel much more confident in my refusal to put up with any sort of embedded supremacy that I personally encounter. I think for a while I've been working hard on being an active community member and uplifting others, but now I'm taking a more serious role in uplifting myself. This all needs to happen simultaneously of course, but as with many female socialized folk, I have spent many years not sticking up for myself. But no more! If you're a bad person, you're out of my life and any lives I see you touching.
I'm widening my intentions to not only creating safe spaces, but eliminating unsafe spaces. I think that second step is what's really come about concretely post-Trump. I'm not sure how this has reflected itself in my music and art; we just recorded for Gland and all of our song topics are very over the top and borderline silly (feminist separatist camps where you live and make vibrators with femme scientists, snakes going missing, etc). My paintings lately have been all about ancient symbols and occult imagery. Seemingly, it's been an escape for me, but there's no true escape. It helps process the greater tragedies if we get to let off some steam.
How exactly did Gland come about?
At this point, I feel like there was no way Gland couldn't have happened. I needed this band. Myself and my life have changed so much since this band started. I feel like I gained immense confidence and immense humbleness simultaneously. The circumstances of how it came together don't even do justice to what has come afterwards.
Basically, me and my friend just wanted to play music. Then it became necessary to create with people who weren't cis males. The meaning to these decisions became much more clear wayyy after the decisions were initially made, as with many things in life. I went with my gut from day one with this project, and now we're here, doing OK, some people like our stuff but it's not like we're making end of year lists or headlining tours. Those things are, obviously, not important. Feeling successful in a band is really difficult because so much of "success" is tied into capitalist ideals. Through Gland I've become myself, in so many ways.
What are three albums that you could never get tired of?
Rihanna - Talk That Talk
Grouper - Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill
When you get discouraged in general, what helps you rally through?
It's easy to get discouraged right now if you have any investment in political activism. But it's important to remember that being an activist is a lifetime commitment, and we fight this fight even if progress is glacially slow, if existent at all. I have severe depression and I'm a Grade A Nihilist so discouragement and me are old friends.
At this point, I feel like my nihilism is my greatest asset. Accepting the nothingness of my existence takes a lot of pressure off of those intense monsters of Success and Long-Term Planning. The real thing that keeps me going every day is having things I want to learn about, especially more esoteric things where knowledge is hard to come by, and you really have to search for it. Feeling like there's hidden secrets I can discover through research and reading seems accessible to me, and interesting as fuck.
I'm a Sagittarius sun with my rising and moon in Capricorn, and my life is a journey of introverted introspective adventure and I will never, ever stop climbing that proverbial mountain with my hooves. Also, Dungeons and Dragons. I think it's OK to escape reality once and a while.
What do you love about the music community right now?
I have made a few amazing and unique connections to other femmes and queer folk that I never would have gotten without the national music community. These have happened mostly with touring bands who aren't local to me. I feel so glad that I've been able to meet so many people and there's a few really special folk I would never have crossed paths with if I hadn't played a show with them, booked a show for them, all those things. There's a lot of other people who immerse themselves completely in their work and it's always tangible when those paths cross.
What would you like to change about the music community?
DIY venues need to be nourished. And it's not like people within my music community don't do that, but I guess if I'm looking at this question as "what issue should the music community prioritize," it's DIY venues. There were so many poignant and heartbreaking pieces written about this after the Ghost Ship fire that reflect this statement with more knowledge than I have. We NEED those spaces and we NEED each other alive. It's an uphill battle.
I don't have a solution. I would sell the fuck out if it meant I would have money to create a truly safe space in New Orleans or anywhere. I just want that to be something people care about, like really, actively care about.
What do you carry with you at all times?
A knife my friend Hasan left in my living room
Choose a gif that encompasses mornings for you.
The first one from this post.
How would you describe your social media persona/role?
Social media and I have a pretty bad relationship. I think I just have a hard time accepting the horrors of humanity, so I overshare myself online in a way that most people don't deserve. I've tried to create a community online to reflect my community IRL, but time and time again, it fails. I'm at a point where I accept my role in this failure and am distancing myself. I love memes, I love Instagram. Facebook is like, suuuuuper evil, tangibly and intangibly.
People who thrive on that platform have a lot of surface popularity, and usually lack actual depth. Just like that episode of Black Mirror, it's for real. I had a Facebook for about 9 years, almost 2,000 friends, lots of stuff I thought was meaningful, photos, friends, etc. Used it to post on the Gland Facebook page a lot and run that. Then in the summertime some shit went down and the way people were talking to me and about me online almost drove me to suicide.
And it was a result of oversharing and expecting people to empathize when that is not how people are. And going through a trauma with people berating you about how you're dealing with the trauma, and then having the trauma itself and the resulting judgement make you do things you wouldn't normally do, because you're literally losing your grip on everything... Deleting my Facebook made such a real and immediate difference in my anxieties, it was freaky to experience the difference. I'm sure a lot of people would relate, and I'm sure a lot of people wouldn't. Now I just have my little Facebook with like 26 friends, because it's a good source for memes and stuff going on in the community.
What else would you like to add?
Everything sucks right now but don't give up. We have no idea how this is going to turn out because precedents aside, sometimes things do change. If you don't have the strength to fight, it's okay. If you do, fight ten times harder for those who can't. Be nice to people (who aren't fascists). Be nice to yourself (unless you're a fascist). I hope you are having a good day and if you're not I hope you have a better day tomorrow, and I love you.
Joanna C. Valente is a human who lives in Brooklyn, New York. They are the author of Sirs & Madams (Aldrich Press, 2014), The Gods Are Dead (Deadly Chaps Press, 2015), Marys of the Sea (2016, ELJ Publications), & Xenos (2016, Agape Editions). They received their MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College. Joanna is also the founder of Yes, Poetry, as well as the managing editor for Luna Luna Magazine and CCM. Some of their writing has appeared in Prelude, The Atlas Review, The Feminist Wire, BUST, Pouch, and elsewhere. They also teach workshops at Brooklyn Poets.
Kallie Van Tassel is a musician and artist living in New Orleans. They are the singer and guitarist of Gland, a punk band, and Kalvin, their solo project.