Musical Misogyny

Earlier this week we premiered a video through Exclaim.ca’s website which has been garnering a really interesting response. This video was a triumph for me because unlike many other hard rock/punk music video you’ve ever seen, every major character and player in the video was a woman, none of whom were being objectified or sexualized. The theme of the video was a showcase of women’s aggression and athleticism, and an alternative idea of women being sexy that isn’t a bunch of girls in booty shorts shaking their shit. I wrote a blurb to that effect and I’ve been surprised since then the amount of vitriol that the video has faced from (male) haters all over the internet.

Could it be that this video is poorly produced or that the song sucks and that is where all the hate is coming from? Sure, but it’s unlikely; our 2010 video for “She’s A Killer” was arguably not very good and the song itself was a crappy recording that we did in our kitchen, yet in over 30,000 views in over 4 years we haven’t received the breadth of hate that we’ve gained in 4 days with ‘I Want Revenge’. So why is this video, and the commentary that went along with it, receiving so much negative attention?

In my opinion, the answer is simple. We have tons of awesome male fans who ‘get’ it, who support and find a woman who can rock as hard as a dude, hit as hard as a dude and be sweaty and up in your face totally awesome. But there is a very real ‘old boys club’ of rock and roll that feels VERY threatened by seeing a band fronted by a strong woman and a video full of strong aggressive women, with absolutely no tits and ass to be had. This very concept is so shocking, and so new to some people that it’s offensive and is inspiring hateful feelings. Deep down, these dudes are feeling threatened. There is a documented phenomena of men reacting angrily toward women trying to occupy what’s traditionally been men’s space in music. When women represent themselves as experts with regards to musical canon or knowledge, the reaction from this Old Boys Club isn’t just the typical internet shitty trolling – it often goes so far as to include sexualized insults and even threats of violence. Even blogs related to how to ‘get ahead’ with your band are written for men with male-gendered language; for men, by men. The possibility that a woman might be the one reading, engaging with or creating things in the music industry is such a stretch that many writers don’t even bother to consider that the people they’re writing about might be women and thus don’t even bother to hide their gendered use of language (note in this article, everyone the writer suggests you bring onto your team is a he – from the accountant to the booking agent. Apparently women don’t work in the music industry at all?). I believe this kind of territorialism extends to women performers as well. This video has provoked an angry response from these very dudes, who want rock and roll to stay a man’s game and for women to know their place, which isn’t being in front of a camera in anything other than a slutty outfit.
The commentary I made about this video talked about my desire to create a piece of media that featured how sexy women could be without overtly sexualizing and objectifying them (you know, like every other music video in the world) and the very first comment was “no one cares about this shit”. Well guess what guys… people do care. A lot of people. They’re called women, and they make up 50% of the population. Welcome to 2014. I was also called out on talking about women being sexy without being sexualized because I had posed for a VERY NOT risque, semi-clothed “sexy” photo which is on my facebook wall. Again, it seems that these men demand that women be either the Madonna or the whore; the idea that we can be both just does not compute. I personally am a big fan of girls being sexy, and I would never say that it’s a bad thing for a women to be sexual in media. I DO think it’s a bad thing if it is the ONLY way a woman can be represented and surely enough you almost never see women in the rock and roll industry who are fat or ugly or otherwise unkempt, unlike their male counterparts. One of the goals of this video was to create an alternative concept of what makes  a woman sexy, but it seems like that idea is very unwelcome to some. Keep us in the pin-up photos in bikinis holding guitars, but don’t dare let us in front of the camera screaming in your face. The truth is that I believe that a sexually empowered and powerful woman can be overtly sexual when she chooses and is also sexy and cool even if she’s dressed in a t-shirt and jeans; it’s all about attitude and intention, and to me the women in this video are so amazing. The video itself is groundbreaking for this reason and the backlash is an indicator of just how much misogynistic sentiment is still creeping in the cellars of the rock and roll industry. Who care about this shit? Only all the women who work in the music industry, make music, and buy music. So pay attention, haters.
See the video that’s causing such a stir here.
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Tour Update #4: Regina to Montreal, Kurt Cobain, Driving Forever

Hi guys

Since my last tour update we played with some amazing bands in Regina. I really enjoyed the kick ass locals The Man and His Machine, and my particular favourite for the night was Palisades from New Jersey. They put on a really well polished show, they were hard hitting and really got the crowd moving. I’m always curious how a band formed only a few years ago (they were formed in 2011) is able to accumulate over 100,000 likes on facebook, tour support, really mint-ass gear and shit. It’s definitely taken us years to get spit and polish and I have to ask myself if these bands don’t have someone doing the majority of the heavy lifting for them? Heaven knows I would love to have a little of that myself – being a DIY band means learning everything the hard way. It’s weird; there are two kinds of bands. The first you never see playing locally until suddenly they’re opening for <POPULAR BAND X> on tour with some guitar sponsorship and they are touted as being from your home city, which is curious, because you’ve never heard of them or seen them play and they definitely didn’t “rise in the ranks” because no one really knows them. These are the bands that seem to have everything us DIY bands are striving for, or at least they LOOK like they have it (read; money). The other kind of band is the kind of band you saw when you were a teenager at the community centre, or who have played with your friends band, who accumulate and grow their fan base through the process of playing shows and getting better and bigger opportunities. Although this kind of a band tends to start with less of the money and the polish, they make up for it in legitimacy, which leads to committed fans who stick with you through the years. It seems Kill Matilda is in the latter category, and it feels really good to always be growing, doing better, improving and seeing our dedicated and loving fans grow with us. I like to think that this kind of musicianship means we are participating in and growing in a national musical community. Not that it’s bad to start out at the top with lots of money and sweet gigs; that’s pretty sweet. But, each approach and strategy has it’s pros and cons.

Speaking of bands and their development, today is the 20th anniversary of the death of Kurt Cobain. Here is a very interesting story of a band; unlike the two examples mentioned above, there existed a magical time in the 90s when music was still making everyone money and even bands of total junkie fuckups could become world famous. Don’t interpret what I say as derogative; I mean it in a loving sense. Kurt Cobain was a total and complete fuckup and the fact that he could become famous as a musician is to me, such an amazing crazy thing, neither good nor band, just remarkable. It could NEVER happen in this day and age. The time of musicians-cum-junkies is almost completely over because being in a band these days means almost constant work in a cutthroat industry with very little resources available for everyone. You have to be at the top of your game. It used to be, in Nirvana’s heyday, that your ethos and your art were all that was needed to bring you head and shoulders above the competition. People, and record labels, loved Nirvana’s music because Kurt Cobain had a special ability to connect with something so deep, so sad, and so primal that it connected us all to that part of ourselves. His epic unhappiness with everything earthly seemed to be conveyed through some kind of magical, beautiful, touching wormhole of emotions. In short, his voice, his words and his melodies moved us. And it didn’t hurt to have Dave fucking Grohl on the drums. But, think about it; Kurt Cobain was a self-loathing lazy junkie at the same time. He didn’t wake up in the morning, check his twitter, do all his own booking, and do all the driving on tour. He was able to exist in this pure bubble of just being an artist, a music-maker, and everything else took care of itself because the music was THAT good. Has there not been music as good or as touching since that time? No, there totally has been. But the eras of Kurt Cobains and Elliott Smiths are over; if you aren’t gonna do it for yourself, no one is gonna do it for you, no matter how good you are.

Beyond that, it also seems the musical and social pendulum has swung so far from the kind of crass self-loathing that Nirvana embodied that it’s unlikely that, at least in the next little, a band or an artist could come along and do something similar to what Kurt Cobain did. These days its not very cool to hate yourself and to sing about killing yourself. In fact, if you so much as post some sort of self-harming selfie on Instagram or Facebook, you better believe that shit will get flagged and taken down. Maybe because the playing field of how we interact with each other and our culture has been so changed through the internet and social media, and our constant interconnectedness, people can’t be so irresponsible anymore. Because that’s really what Kurt Cobain was; irresponsible. And it was cool, in his time. But imagine someone doing this today, using drugs flagrantly, being a total flail, talking about hating themselves… I feel like the collective hivemind of the interwebz would reject that person as just.. a loser. I guess what I am trying to say is that Nirvana, and Kurt Cobain, were a kind of miracle; the perfect collusion of several elements. Like an eclipse or a planet or comet that comes into view that we won’t see again for another hundred years or so. Everything had to be just right. The industry had money and was looking for the next big thing and plucked this (relatively) unknown band from obscurity (lord knows they couldn’t have done it themselves with that kind of a work ethic). The culture of the 90s, living in the shadow of the post-80’s economic boom, still privileged and rich enough to start having a vague self-hating sense of ennui played a role. People were just fresh out of the Cold War, which I think also probably gave a lot of young people a sense of gothic existentialism; only years before the threat of nuclear war was real, and frightening. Now there was nothing to be frightened of but there was a lot to hate, especially with regards to consumer culture, because people had money! All these things; economics, world events, culture… they are all related to music and what we as a society like and don’t like, will accept and not accept.

But, back to us.

Regina was followed by Brandon, big thanks to A.P.O.D. productions for hosting us! We had to immediately leave Brandon and drive through the night as far as Kenora, ON, where we crashed at a motel from 5:30 am to about noon, and then hit the road again, arriving in Thunder Bay in the nick of time around 8 pm. Seriously, why is the drive across Northern Ontario so long? How does it take 8 hours to go less than 500 kms? We pulled a repeat of the night before and hit the road right after our show to embark on the 10 hour drive to Timmins. The show in Thunder Bay was awesome; definitely check out the band Forever Dead,  a highlight for me. I also really enjoyed the Bay Street Bastards, who played a sort of combination of celtic-punk-meets-Gogol-Bordello.

We made it safely to Timmins around 2 pm after a 10 hour drive and immediately crashed out till our show. I’ve been pleased and impressed with the calibre of shows this tour; no matter where we play, and with who, people are happy and excited to hear us, they buy merch and we make friends. That’s all you can really ask for. We enjoyed a few days off in Sudbury visiting friends, a few more in Montreal, and a quick trip to Sherbrooke to play bar le Magog with Hardluck Battleground and Fate Hope Glory. Sherbrooke is a really beautiful city and always one of my favourite places to play!

Last night we returned after a too-long separation to the stage in Montreal and it was glorious, both to see old friends and familiar faces and to play for the awesome punks of Quebec. If you’ve never been to Quebec, or partied at the Death House, or been to a show, it’s definitely an experience you should try to have once in your life. It’s hard to put into words but the people and the culture of Montreal just hold a special place in my heart and Mykel and I felt really happy to be back in the ‘hood.

Next up: Sorel, Toronto, and ALL OF ONTARIO.