Celebrating 30 years of music, Pansy Division has just announced that they are doing a set of live dates this summer, a kind of “THOU SHALT NOT MISS” kind of experience. The announcement caught me totally by surprise, and I know these guys and interviewed Jon Ginoli when I began writing for Instinct and caught up with Chris in “The Dobermen (and GayC/DC)” last year. Knowing them and following them, I was still caught by surprise when I received the tour flyer via email, and a simple question, “Do you want to cover this?” HHHHEEEEEEELLLLLLSSSS YEAH.
Jeremy Hinks: Hey Jon good to get you back on for a convo, it’s been 2 years. I know that Pansy Division never “broke up” but went on “the other jobs” hiatus for a while. I’m glad you guys are getting back together for some shows, 30 years now right?
Jon Ginoli: We were never really on “hiatus”, it was that we would often go on pause and not play shows for a while because of geographic inconvenience, living in four different places on two different coasts. And getting together is not as spontaneous as it was, on no notice get together and play a benefit or something like that. Those days are gone, but that is the price you pay for being in a band for 30 years. It would be different if we were a full-time living, as opposed to something that pays something every once in a while. We have all had to move on and make the band 2nd priority as to the primary goal we had for a decade and a half.
JH: Well, you were in the band Pre Pansy Division (The Outnumbered), which had formed and released an album in two years, which that in itself was remarkable.
JG: Yeah, Chris and I had both been in the 90s and had records out on indie labels, Joel was in the MR T Experience, and Louis hadn’t made records till he joined us when he was 22. He has spent half his life in this band.
JH: So you were the trailblazers of “queer-core” at this, thirty years ago, thinking there is no all gay rock band, and realized that you were the one to do it. Thirty years of “Queer-core” under your boots, I remember for a few years there was a big flash of great bands, but they burned out quickly. But I guess like punk, that happens with so many bands.
JG: It’s hard to be in a band, it’s harder now to be than it used to be. The cost is much higher now, with getting a van, renting for a tour, the cost of instruments, it’s gone way up, so that makes it harder to do as a casual thing. What is easier now though is getting your music out there. Though getting people to pay attention to you is just as hard as it always was before, some people do get noticed so there are trade-offs, I think it was easier back then. Having a band is like a marriage, it’s hard to have a relationship that lasts. People can disagree after you’ve been together for years, how much do you want to be on the road. That became an issue for us, when people wanted to go back to school, I had gotten my degree, but Chris and Louis hadn’t so that’s why at certain points we were less active for a while. All these things are what you need to do to survive, but we never stopped. We had all kinds of plans to play in 2020, we did get to play 3 shows, I got home from that last trip on March first.
JH: Yeah, I interviewed Chris when he was in “The Dobermen” and they all said, they had recorded all of this, but never “met” as “The Dobermen” til they shot that video. They were a great interview, and my podcast got just pounded with hits from that one.
JG: Yeah, I’ve never seen “The Dobermen” yet, but Chris and his husband bought a house not far from me with rehearsal space, so the first time I’ll get to actually see him, in years will be when we meet to practice for these shows.
JH: Can we expect any new material in these shows?
JG: There is nothing “new” that we are working on, it’s funny you mention “The Dobermen” and how they did it all virtually. The last few Pansy Division albums were good, but I didn’t enjoy doing them as much because we didn’t have the time together in the same room to work them out. TO me that is one of the joys of being in a band that is writing their own material, hashing it out. You have a song and what you want it to sound like, then you put it into the blender of being in a band. So moving forward, if we record new material that’s the way I want to do it, that will be hard to do for our schedules, but for these shows, we have the nine albums of songs to choose from.
June 30th – Palm Springs, CA @ The Alibi
July 1st – Los Angeles, CA @ Zebulon
July 3rd – Oakland, CA @ Mosswood Meltdown Festival
JH: One of the gigs is a festival, so you won’t have a full 2 hours of a set.
JG: Well, the regular sets are an hour, and the festival is 40 minutes, so, we will get a distilled greatest hits, from a band that never had any “hits”.
JH: Well, for me there were hits like “Blame the Bible” and “Homo Christmas” I mean “Homo Christmas” is on my “Christmas SUCKS / Punk Christmas” playlist.
JG: You’re not gonna hear “Homo Christmas” in July. We have most of the songs picked out, we have rehearsed for a month, so we know what we are going to play, so we are going to be practicing songs we don’t have time for, just in case we want to pull out a surprise. But it’s going to be tough when someone yells for something we haven’t practiced for in over a decade. That is when we are going to disappoint people.
JH: Yeah, that flier with your shows listed on it, surprised me this morning I tell ya. All of you running and not wearing socks.
JG: Well, I tried not to, but I still had to wear socks, you just can’t see them in that picture.
JH: Yeah, and how you placed Chris in the back so he doesn’t look like the towering monolith that he is.
JG: Chris is eleven inches taller than me. I’m 5’6″ he is 6’5″, it looks great with him next to me on stage.
JH: Well, I would be looking forward to something like this, Pansy Division back on the road. How does it going into this at 30 years? I know it’s only 3 shows for now.
JG: We are getting some other dates set in stone, one in New Orleans, we haven’t played there in 20 years, so that will be great to go back. We are playing a big gay party called “Southern Decadence” gay, party, New Orleans, holiday weekend, sounds like it’s going to be a great time, as the only single member of the band, I hope to enjoy myself.
JH: I’m looking here, June 30th, Palm Springs, at “The Alibi”. And the one everyone is pushing for, is the “Zebulon” in Los Angeles on July 1st, that looks like a great one from all the chatter I’ve gotten on it. Then this big festival in Oakland on July 3rd, “Mosswood Meltdown” which I guess everyone could be hungover already, going into the holiday on the 4th.
JG: That festival is one I’ve always wanted to play, it started out with a lot of Garage Rock, indie, and a lot of obscure acts, but then I’ve seen bands like “X” and Iggy Pop and the Buzzcocks. I even say The Jesus & Mary Chain there. The main acts this year are Kim Gordon and Bikini Kill. When Pansy Division was starting, there were a lot of parallels with Riot Girl, which was happening at the same time, and we got to play with Bikini Kill, and they were incredible.
JH: So, you have booked at least 5 gigs, looking to be rude, tasteless, and offensive, the kind of despicable stuff I can appreciate.
JG: Yeah, the party Southern Decadence, it’s going to be hot as hell, and I’ll have to wear the tiniest bikini I can find.
JH: And socks.
JG: Yes, and socks.
JH: Has there been some pre-amped-up excitement about this, I mean, I knew nothing of this till 2 days ago, and the chatter has not stopped.
JG: I’m glad that people are excited, one of the things to wonder is about have people forgotten about us, but the excitement that’s churning about people looking forward to seeing us is promising. We have gotten older, and some of our crowd has gotten older, but a friend of mine who does TikTok is telling me about people discovering Pansy Division through posting things on TikTok. He sent me a few of those, I’m glad that we are filtering down to younger people whatever method it takes. I think we have a liberating message to people who may not know about punk rock, and who grew up on 21st-century pop. You reach a certain age in your life, and you want something unique and different, we just might be that thing.
JH: Well, so many have stood on your shoulders for what you did, you need to be recognized for that. I mean, I was shooting the Train and Goo Goo Dolls gig a couple of years ago, and one of the guys I was shooting with, we both were just talking about the death metal, and punk shows we have seen over the years. I mentioned I had interviewed you before, and that you had toured with Rancid, he freaked out, saying that would have been the best bill he could imagine, two classic iconic punk acts like that. So glad you are taking the road now.
JG: Well, the band is rearing to go, I’m the one that’s still Covid weary. I haven’t gotten it, I’m fully vaccinated, but I have people around me who have vulnerable health, so I have to be careful. So being in a club without a mask, it’s not something I’ve been doing, but I will now. I think I am ready to book more shows, but I have asthma, and Covid would be a big issue for me.
JH: Well, I hope you guys have a good summer, that is what we can hope for. I wish you all the best, have fun at these shows man.
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