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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Late Regret For 2007

posted by on January 9 at 9:13 AM

One of my few regrets of 2007 was that I never got the chance to write a particular story about a local pop band. They have a strong local all-ages following and had been courting A&R reps from major labels, as well as being featured prominently on Myspace’s band page. They’ve got a radio-friendly pop hooks that bounce over swooning rock ballads and hordes of teenage girls know their lyrics by heart. I’ve seen their fans sweating, panting, nearly crying just to bring the band a note, some homemade cookies or brownies, and maybe get a chance to talk to them and tell them, “Oh my god, I LOVE YOU.”

But the story wasn’t just about a local band on the rise or at least, it wouldn’t be the kind of hype piece that just tells you that a band is worth checking out. My interest in the band and its seemingly inevitable ascent into mainstream success was based in the experience of one of their band members who happens to be transgendered.

Now, it would be ignorant not to acknowledge that there has been plenty of gender-bending and significant music made by those with fluid or non-traditional sexual identities, but to generalize: those artists made music that was often deliberately politically driven and sexually charged. Their lyrics and stage personas were often provocative and meant to shock, but this band just writes about heartbreak and romance in the polished but mundane fashion of most bands their age and style. (I don’t mean that as a dig, just calling a spade a spade).

This band seemed to me so appealingly mainstream in every way, I saw the possibility that the experience of a transgendered young man itself may be becoming more mainstream and more mundane. While I think that many of their fans probably don’t know that he is trans, from what I’ve seen most seem unlikely to care one way or another and some would probably love the band all the more for it.

I regret that the members of this band declined to be interviewed, although I can certainly appreciate their potential reasons. Not wanting to be identified/pigeon-holed for this single member’s history alone, simple privacy, its lack or relevance to their music, maybe pressure from a potential label, or any number of other possibilities.

Of course the fact could be that maybe as much as I’d hoped that I could parallel his artistic and personal histories as signs of our society expanding its tolerance, often outing oneself as transgendered is still dangerous, highly stigmatized, and opens oneself to abuse from the hateful and ignorant. Regardless, I’m glad to know that the story is out there and that maybe someone will get a chance to write it some day.

RSS icon Comments

1

It's cool that you looked into this story--just as cool that you decided to respect the band's privacy. Of course, you can still write about Genesis P. Orridge with impunity. And yes, I realize he doesn't identify as male or female. :-)

Posted by Kathy Fennessy | January 9, 2008 1:23 PM
2

You're talking about Ben Lashes, right?

Posted by Paulus | January 9, 2008 1:36 PM
3

this actually strikes me as a particularly poor way to "respect the band's privacy"

Posted by whatever | January 9, 2008 2:24 PM
4

Not cool. If they asked you to leave it alone, you should have left it entirely alone. It's not too hard to guess, you know?

Posted by Katelyn | January 9, 2008 5:16 PM
5

I never claimed that I was "respecting their privacy," that was some other random commenter saying that about me. I wrote this because I really regret that I didn't have the opportunity to tell what is a compelling story about a talented band, but also wanted to express that in a way that didn't obviously "out," them.

There are lots of young local bands who fit the bill of being radio-friendly, poppy, have lots of adoring teenage fans, as well as being courted by record labels (which usually follows the previously listed attributes). So, despite what Katelyn says, I don't really think it's that easy to guess, you know?

And more pointedly to @4, you're making a totally baseless assumption here so I don't really know where you get off being all judgmental about it. The band never asked "to leave it alone," they simply didn't reply to a several email and phone inquiries. If you know them personally and know that they would feel otherwise about this post, have them get in touch with me personally.

Posted by christopher hong | January 9, 2008 7:18 PM
6

Robin Pecknold is a tranny?

Posted by travis | January 9, 2008 9:01 PM

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