Ready To Rock Wichoo

9.18.2008

By Barry Walters

Despite the fact that England isn't as racially charged and being in a band that draws upon gay traditions isn't all that unusual there, I don't get the sense that England is any less sexist.
They certainly have their share of white trash over there. Oh, that sounds horrible! I think it's been ingrained in our minds that the English are very quaint and polite. They can seem very tight-laced but at the same time can be completely wrong and raunchy. I kind of like that about them.

I think they take glee in crossing the line between being proper and being vulgar.
We get a lot of joy out of doing that too, taking basic pop songs and making sure there's something a little off about them. That's in the mainstream there. I love that our record was in the charts over there and the things that we say in the album are so inappropriate at times -- people having sex with statues, compromising nice, chaste virgins. It's a seemingly little thing, but just changing the gender [in 'I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You'] to 'When I was a little girl' is just a mindfuck. People have to wrap their minds around why I would say such a thing.

There's always been -- particularly since '70s disco and the early gay liberation years -- an interesting relationship between white gay men and African-American performers, a shared experience of being on the outside. I wonder if you have something to say about that.
I love how disco originated from gays, blacks, and Hispanics. It was something underground and then of course it became mainstream. It just kind of mutates. Post-punk bands like New Order incorporate that stuff, and we're influenced by that. I'm not sure if I answered your question.

I just wondered if you've thought about the connection between African-American performers and white gay audiences and if you feel a part of that cultural exchange.
I haven't thought about it much. We're straight, but we've been called derogatory things.

I would think so!
Yeah, especially while walking around England. But it will be those same exact guys at our show, buying us a drink because they like our band! [Laughs hard] I'm just mystified by that. I find it interesting where the lines blur between what's considered masculine and what's considered feminine. When you get the right combination it's very admirable. With Prince, he's this very effeminate guy, but in Purple Rain -- I'm not saying this is admirable at all, but he's smackin' women around. That [androgyny] was something we were trying to feel out throughout the record.

I received some unusually vicious attacks for reviewing your album enthusiastically in Spin. It's amazing to me that people would begrudge your success and that you've already had a backlash.
It's interesting to me as well and I feel very accomplished! [Laughs] It's like, 'Really? Already?' I can't help but feel pride in creating something that's potent enough to make some people wretch whereas other people enjoy it thoroughly. I think it's preferable to have that extreme range of reaction as opposed to right in the middle where it's just, 'Yeah, it's okay.' We prefer the enthusiasm or the hatred. It just makes it feel like we're making something valid.

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