Divide and Conquer

7.22.2008

By Barry Walters

Although Ginoli and Freeman went through four drummers during the Green Day tour, the pair finally settled on Luis Illades in 1996, and then added a fitting second guitarist, Patrick Goodwin. It's this quartet that recorded 1998's Absurd Pop Song Romance, a polished slice of pop-punk overseen by indie rock super-producer Steve Albini. Pansy Division had finally hit its musical stride, but the artistic breakthrough didn't expand the band's audience as expected.

This disappointment together with the disappearance of affordable rehearsal spaces in San Francisco meant that maintaining the band full-time became financially impossible. Freeman moved to Los Angeles and now works as a compliance auditor of financial aid programs; Illades relocated to New York and opened up a successful health food store/caf', Urban Rustic; Goodwin left to devote himself to his own hard rock band, Dirty Power, and was replaced by 'token straight' guitarist Joel Reader, who now works in Boston as a librarian. Only Ginoli has remained in the Bay Area, where he's employed at San Francisco's world-famous Amoeba Records.

Yet these Pansies are by no means past tense. The foursome is three songs away from finishing its next album, That's So Gay, which is scheduled to coincide with the Spring 2009 DVD release of Pansy Division: Life in a Gay Rock Band, the publication of Ginoli's completed book about the group, and another tour. As the documentary makes its way to Austin, Dublin, Bern, and beyond, the band will perform at selected cities.

'Right now we're more about maintaining our legacy and making sure we don't release sub par records,' Freeman says. 'To me there's nothing worse than a new Rolling Stones album. We think about what's going to add to our catalogue, not dilute it.'

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