The Queers have been around forever -- or so it seems. Any snot-nosed kid who's ever dipped into the punk scene, even if it was only for a summer, has probably elbowed a few faces in the pit at a Queers show, or at least bought (and later sold) an album from the act's lengthy discography. The Queers don't go away; instead, they get passed on year after year to younger generations.
The punk scene is changing, however, and with every decade, it evolves into a hungrier moneymaking beast. Bands like the Queers, who started out when punk still meant "miscreant," are becoming endangered, and guys like Joe King, aka Joe Queer, come from a dying breed of musicians who are still in it to have fun. We sat down with the guitarist/frontman and talked scene politics.
Westword: Why didn't you want to play the Warped tour?
Joe Queer: To me, the Warped tour was just more rock-star stuff. There's a big, vast gulf between the audience and the bands, and I saw the bands get bigger and act like the assholes that I hated when I got into punk rock. I just don't like it. I could have done it and had these tours opening up for Social D or Bad Religion, but I just wasn't into it. I'm not saying I'm better than those bands; I just didn't want to do it. I grew up on the Ramones and Black Flag and the DKs, and that's the way I am. So fuck it. We're not trying to make it in the music business; we just want to make good music. We've got our own little corner of the world, and if this is as good as it gets, then this is better than I ever dreamt it would be.
What's changed since the Queers started out?
Now it's like punk rock is a career move. You have bands like Good Charlotte or Fall Out Boy or whoever, and so many of them are getting huge. When we started out, it was not a career move. It was a loser proposition to go on tour. It was much more DIY, and it was fine. It was a much more innocent age, because no one really made any money. It was like the Ramones were your heroes, and you really tried to write great songs. It was about the songs, not how many people you drew or where you played or what label you were on. And now it's about what you look like, it's what label you're on, it's doing the Warped tour -- and the last thing is writing good songs.
Not a lot of stuff grabs me anymore. It's not that I hate all these bands; it's just that I'm into the tunes, and I don't hear anything that's very exciting, and it bums me out. I see a lot of bands in the punk scene, and they're all good, but none of them are great.
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