Interview: Joe Queer (The Queers)

I've said it before, I'll say it again, punk's not dead, but it sure has taken a beating. With corporate giants buying into the scene every chance they get, fueling a veritable tidal wave of sub par mall-punk bands, and the dime-a-dozen bands flying the gimmick riddled socio-political banner, the scene seems devoid of any culture it once cherished. A culture hell bent on having a good time no matter what was going on in the world around it, a culture where monetary gain was the least motivating factor. Nowadays, it's hard to look at the scene with any sort of hope for redemption of those lost glory days. It's easy to say shes lived long past her prime. Yet there are still a handful of bands with no bullshit attitudes that have beaten the odds and remained true to their fans and themselves. One such case is The Queers. For those of you familiar with the Queers, you know exactly what Im talking about. They've been at it for years releasing album after album of punk-pop fury, and burning up stages throughout the land w/ sets seemingly powered by the crowd itself and vice versa. For those of you not familiar with their Ramones inspired sound, now is as good of a time as any to play catch up. The Black & Blue recently caught up with The Queer's front man, Joe Queer for a little Q & A, heres how it went down.

Dorian: Whats shakin Joe, How's it going these days? Joe: It's busy as hell for The Queers haha. We have lots of stuff going on these days.

Dorian: Let's start off with the name of your band, The Queers. For those who don't already know, how did you come up with it?
Joe: We just wanted a name that people would remember and that was sort of provocative. It pissed a lot of people off in Portsmouth, NH. 

Dorian: So it has nothing to do with the bands sexual orientation? Joe: Hahaha -no.

Dorian: Has there been any backlash from the gay community?
Joe: Nope. It takes balls to travel around the world saying you are in a band called The Queers!!

Dorian: At what point did you realize you wanted to become a professional musician?
Joe: I never really thought I could do it as a job really. I remember back around 1986 I'd sent a cassette tape to Joey Ramone and seeing him backstage at a show in NH. I just went up and said hey I am Joe from The Queers and Joey immediately said how much he liked "Love Love Love" and "Goodbye California" and at that moment I thought well if Joey likes it then maybe I can play music. Later on he asked me to work on songs for his solo album and that was awesome for me. Ben Weasel and I finished one idea Joey had and we used it on our last album as Joey was too sick to sing it. That song is "I Wanna Be Happy".

Dorian: What kind of jobs did you work before then?
Joe: Eh-I've done everything, from construction to owning a restaurant/bar to working for my brother on his commercial fishing boat.

Dorian: So, How long have you been at it now?
Joe: We've been pretty steady since 1993 when we put out "Love Songs for the Retarded".

Dorian: After so many years, how is it the Queers have stayed relevant and kept fans interested? Joe: I think that a lot of kids like the fact we aren't some phony punk band. We just keep it simple like The Ramones did. I like trying different stuff too though, like on "Don't Back Down". You have to work hard and try new stuff. I think there are so many boring bands doing lame songs.

Dorian: Yeah, no kidding. Punks changed a lot since those days, what are your feelings on punk's evolution?
Joe: Well the scene has changed so much since we started touring. Back then it was way more DIY and kids helped out more. Now the money has changed the way kids think. The kids see some band on The Warped Tour and that is like the height of making it these days. They will buy any CD if it's on FAT or they see the band on The Warped Tour, whether the band is any good or not. Like I think Against Me! are great guys. I've never met them but I know people that know them and from what I hear they are super guys. But, musically they are so lame and they are not any better or worse than a million other bands out there. I used to think the kids would see through all the BS out there but they can't. I mean look at Anti Flag, great guys. For years they say they are anti-corporation. Fine, I agree with them, I am too. Then they sign with RCA so they can "get their message out to the kids" for a ton of money. So what that tells me is it's not about their morals and convictions it's about the money. So they can fuck themselves as far as I am concerned. Plus, if you wanna learn about politics don't go to a punk rock show. I mean do kids really think that its cool when a band gets onstage and says Bush sucks? We all know he sucks but I don't want to hear that shit at a show. I can think for myself and so can the audience. It's so conceited to act like you are so much smarter than the audience. I hate that shit!! And any scene that puts Lars and Lint from Rancid on a pedestal with the fucking Dropkick Murphys is fucked in my opinion. Fancullo a tutti!

Dorian: So that explains why you guys have never come around on the Warped Tour?
Joe: Yeah, Its everything that punk rock was against. Huge ticket prices, big arena settings, bands acting like fucking rock stars. I hate it. It's all about the money and the kids are treated like shit. I like a small club with the band and the audience right there.

Dorian: The Ramones did it for somewhere around 20 years, how much longer do you think youve got in the gas tank?
Joe: Haha, well who knows? We will be going for a while yet though I can see the day when I stop doing it as much as now. I want to write and do other stuff I mean there is so much other stuff I could do to make an impact in the world besides playing punk rock and I wanna start doing that stuff.

Dorian: Speaking of the Ramones, they and the Beach Boys seem to be obvious influences, who are some of your not so obvious influences?
Joe: Well, a lot of the old Bubblegum stuff-Lesley Gore- The Turtles-The Troggs-Chuck Berry-Del Shannon.......I really love The Jesus and Mary Chain. I emailed the singer Jim Reid about helping me on a song and he said he would so I am psyched about that. Most morons in the punk scene are too busy listening to BS like Social Distortion and emo shit to listen to them but they are awesome.

Dorian: So do you listen to any of your contemporaries? Joe: Very few. I love The Muffs, MTX (Mr.T Experience, The Dickies, and Screeching Weasel. I hear about a lot of new bands that are great but none of them knock my socks off, except The Steinways and The Unlovables, both bands are from NYC and are awesome!!

Dorian: Ben Weasel and you have been known to collaborate from time to time, how did the two of you meet and what kind of relationship do the two of you have? Joe: I sent him a tape of the stuff that was later on "Grow Up" and that was basically how we met. I talk to him all the time.

Dorian: So what are the chances on future collaborations?
Joe: We write stuff here and there so who knows? We are hoping to do a few shows where The Queers play a set and then Ben comes on and we are his band and play his stuff. People think he hates playing but he doesn't and he is actually psyched to do it!! It will happen this year! 

Dorian: I'm there man. You seem to tour relentlessly, how much time do you spend on the road in an average year? Joe: Last year and this year we are touring like mad. I get home for a few days after this tour and studio stuff and go to Europe. Then I get home for a week and hit Brazil with Marky Ramone. Then we get home for a week or so and go off to tour the US with The Hard Ons.
Dorian: You got any crazy touring stories? Joe: Hahah, a million, but you'll have to wait for my book to come out.

Dorian: Fair enough. You recently toured Europe and Australia, what are differences of touring over there compared to here in the States?
Joe: It was our first time in Australia but it was fun as hell. Europe is weird cause we will play some places that are tiny and the next night headline a festival for a few thousand people. It's really fun though. The states are a more steady draw across the board for us. I like playing everywhere pretty much.

Dorian: How about Japan?
Joe: We haven't been back to Japan for about 3 years. We've gone about 8 times. We are overdue to go. I love it there, the kids go off.

Dorian: Whats going through your mind when you play a show?
Joe: Eh-just what song to play next usually. I just have fun.

Dorian: What song would you consider the most requested?
Joe: "Ursula Finally Has Tits".

Dorian: What song do you enjoy playing the most?
Joe: Hmmm......I really like "Kicked out Of the Webelos". It is the essence of what The Queers are about I think.

Dorian: Any experiences w/ obsessed fans or stalkers?
Joe: Hahaha, Usually it's just kids that are way into the band that won't leave you alone. I deal with it though, it doesnt happen that much.

Dorian: Any gold records hanging on your wall at home?
Joe: Hahah hell no!! I've had a lot of fun doing music so I don't worry about how many albums we sell.

Dorian: The song Granola head off of Love Songs, while humorous, is an overtly anti-drug song, what was your inspiration behind it?
Joe: It was a tongue in cheek song about hippies and the whole life style they lead. That moronic belief that if they follow The Grateful Dead and take LSD, then life will be great. Like that is the path to enlightenment. I mean they are no worse really than a lot of moronic kids in the punk scene today either. Bands take themselves so seriously these days. One of the biggest differences from the old days is all the bands then had a sense of humor. Black Flag, The Dead Kennedys, The Dickies, and The all these bands think they have the fucking cure for AIDS. No one can laugh at themselves anymore. I mean the big message I got from punk was the ability to laugh at myself-to not take myself so seriously-to question things people tell me whether its the president or the singer in some punk band. Now if the idiots crawl onstage with a mohawk and yell about George Bush them kids think "wow!! These guys are punk". Meanwhile the assholes are living like rich yuppies. But if they are on the right label kids love them. 

Dorian: So whats your anti-drug? Joe: Hahaha my anti drug? Reading.

Dorian: You got any tattoos?
Joe: Yeah, One-The Queers on my left arm.

Dorian: How do you feel about people sporting Queers tattoos? Joe: I love it!! It's an honor.

Dorian: Your from in and around the Boston area, a hotbed of the whole "Working Class" group of punk bands, recently youve been openly downtrodden on this scene and some of those bands, care to elaborate?
Joe: Eh- I think all those bands are stupid. I hate the pseudo-Irish thing. All the kids look like ex-Nazis. What exactly is working class anyway? I worked on my brother's fishing boat when I wasn't on tour so I guess I'm fucking working class. To me that is just a way for the assholes to get together and look like Hitler Youth. They just want to go to a show and fight. That's such a great message!! Good for them. They add nothing to society or the punk scene. All the working class guys I knew were pot smokers supported by their girlfriends and/or parents. Fuck all of them. I grew up on The Ramones and Black Flag so I can't buy all that stupid shit.

Dorian: Rapid fire question time. These only require a short answer. Your Favorite-

Dorian: Movie?
Joe: "Picnic"

Dorian: Car youve owned?
Joe: -my van I own now.

Dorian: Book?
Joe: "Confederacy Of Dunces"

Dorian: Beer?
Joe: Bud, but I stopped drinking a few years ago and I don't miss it. I realized that it's more fun to play sober than fucked up. There's more to life actually then just drinking and going to shows.
Dorian: City to play?

Joe: Chicago
Dorian: City to stay?
Joe: Oviedo. Spain

Dorian: Ethnic food?
Joe: Japanese

Dorian: Holiday?
Joe: all of them

Dorian: Actor/Actress?
Joe: William Holden and Veronica Lake

Dorian: Sports team?
Joe: Boston Red Sox

Dorian: Last show you went to?
Joe: Agent Orange

Dorian: I didn't know they were still touring.
Joe: Yeah, they're still around.

Dorian: Cool. Tell us about the split you did with the Italian act The Manges, how did that all come about?
Joe: We are all friends so the label asked us to do it. It was ok, but we ended up paying for most of the recording ourselves. Never got the money back either.

Dorian: On Tamara's a Punk, among other things, you say youve jammed with the infamous GG Allin, how well did you know him and whats your opinion of his work?
Joe: I knew GG pretty well back in the day in NH. He was a good guy that loved good music. I liked some of his shit and didn't like some other stuff he did.

Dorian: On Summer hits vol. 1, theres little or no information regarding this album other than a track listing. Just skimming through the songs listed, it looks as if most if not all appear on other albums. Is this a best of album or what?
Joe: Yeah, we rerecorded all of the songs though, it was just done for a Japanese label, but they ended up never releasing it. But were not repressing it.

Dorian: Repress it? Shit I love the new recordings! It's on Doheny Records, isnt that your label?
Joe: Yeah, I may do vinyl and some other bands too once I get going.
I am just starting that up to release side projects on.

Dorian: Side projects like The Drunken Cholos?
Joe: Yeah, that was the original lineup of The Queers-me-Wimpy and Tulu. Tulu thinks I made a million dollars off that band and is mad at me. We made exactly $298.00 off that one CD we did. Wimpy and I want to do another CD but if Tulu won't do it we will do it ourselves.

Dorian: Right on. You have a live CD coming out in the near future, if memory serves me, didn't you put out a live album about 3 years ago, Live in West Hollywood? What's the difference between it and Weekend at Bernies?
Joe: That Live in West Hollywood was not very good and we were not happy with it at all. That was another scam by Hopeless to make money off us without paying us. That label is a complete rip-off and I have heard from former employees about how bad they were. I hate that blind bastard that runs it. If people knew how much money they made off us and how little they paid us they wouldn't believe it. 

Dorian: No shit, I guess it's hard looking from the outside in to see all the bullshit that goes down behind the scenes.
Joe: Like I said, you wouldnt believe it.

Dorian: So what should we expect from The Queers in the near future?
Joe: We just released the new live album-we are recording a new album next week-we have a tribute album coming out-we are working on a DVD-we are real busy!

Dorian: Well hey, it sounds like your busy as hell, I guess I'll let you get back to it then.

Joe: Thanks for the interview. Take it easy.

Dorian: No man, thank you.


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