Pansy Division’s multimedia extravaganzaApril 14, 2009
Seminal* queer pop-punk band Pansy Division is back with a vengeance, debuting a new album, a film, and a memoir.
The album is That’s So Gay, out on Alternative Tentacles. Pansy Division sounds tight, which I imagine is a consequence of their stable lineup, but musically and lyrically, it’s not a departure from their previous work, which is just fine – they’ve never been a band that had pretensions to being anything else. Songs like “Pat Me on the Ass” and “20 Years of Cock” combine catchy songwriting with Pansy Division’s trademark sexual exuberance and fit comfortably with other PD faves. The one exception is “Average Men,” with guest Jello Biafra – its sound is harder (and its humour considerably more biting) than the rest of the tracks.
The film is Pansy Division: Life in a Gay Rock Band, a documentary that started life as a graduation requirement for bassist Chris Freeman’s film degree. It’s currently out on DVD and is being screened around the country. You can find out more about it or order a copy here.
The memoir is Jon Ginoli’s Deflowered: My Life in Pansy Division, a history of Pansy Division from its inception in 1990 to the present. It draws heavily from tour diaries, including the one kept by Ginoli in 1994 when they were tapped by Green Day to open for their arena tour. The memoir is an inside look at how an indie band deals with the challenges of life on the road, dealing with the record label, trying to get albums out, and trying to keep a drummer (Pansy Division could envy Spinal Tap; over the course of the lifetime of the band, they’ve gone through a dozen drummers, albeit none fatally). Of course, they faced the added challenge of dealing with marginalization and homophobia, on the road and off; Ginoli speaks matter-of-factly of women in the audience forming a human chain to protect the band while they were loading out their gear. Ginoli’s writing voice is frank and sincere, and it’s an engaging read.
Pansy Division has a special place in the heart of z=z, since their last Cambridge show featured in its very first post. And that show seems to have a warm place in Ginoli’s heart too, as he writes, “…we played the larger downstairs room of the Middle East…Combine great stage sound with a slew of crazed, screaming fans up front who knew all the words, and the result was probably the best show of the tour.”
Ginoli’s currently on a book tour, promoting the book and the documentary, with readings at a Boston Barnes and Noble on Tuesday, April 14th and at the Brookline Booksmith on Wednesday, April 15th, and a screening of the documentary at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, also on the 15th. As well, a concert tour is lined up for June and July. Dates and details for the readings, screenings and concerts can all be found here.
*I couldn’t resist. Sorry.