I watch a lot of Joe Queer interviews on Youtube. I’m not in the mood to get linky but if you ever find yourself killing time on the internet, look some up. He’s got his stock answers all prepared to deliver without fail or hesitation and he’s perfected the art of saying NOefffuckingFex with more disdain than even Jonny or Foat could pull off. The rare chances I get to talk to people that are, admittedly, heroes of one degree or another, I like to try not to hit them over the head with the stock typed questions they get every day. Here’s the unedited version of an interview I did with the King himself last year.
At the helm of a 28-year legacy, Joe King and his notorious New Hampshire-based punk rock band, The Queers are back out on tour, in support of a brand new album, Back To The Basement, which comes as a refreshingly rough and raw return to their early 90’s form and, according to Atlanta transplant, Joe Queer himself, fits right in with the band’s quintessential ’93 master-piece, Love Songs for the Retarded. “I kind of wanted to go back to that and get away from the pop punk stuff. I did that one song ‘Everyday Girl’ [off Back To The Basement] but that’s the only gay one on the whole album. We recorded just like we did Kicked Out Of The Webelos – just played it together and didn’t try to make some over-produced, piece-of-shit-album like everyone else out there”.
Beyond the usual prescription of endearing Joe Queer Brand punk rock name-dropping and satirical arrogance (I got punk points coming outta my ass / I knew GG when he was a wimp), Back To The Basement administers a heavy dose of reference to the good old days of punk rock with songs like “I Knew GG When He Was A Wimp”, “I’m Pissed”, “Keep It Punk” – and the title track “Back To The Basement” among others, which suggest perhaps, that the tour-wary King may be growing frustrated with the current state of punk rock.
“In the early days all the bands had a sense of humor. They used humor as a weapon. Bands these days take themselves way too seriously. I mean if you have the fucking cure for cancer fine, I’ll kiss your ass too; but just ‘cause you’re in some marginally successful little punk band doesn’t make you too fucking important”.
However; frustrated or not, 20-years-strong of being cooped up in an Econoline with his revolving cast of clowns (the validity of which to qualify as “The Queers” continues to be a topic of contention in many internet circles, if you can believe that) being cyclically bounced from the company’s touring ranks for various tour doctrine violations, and incredibly, Joe is still able to gain a thrill off life on the road.
“To be honest, I love doing it. Love seeing my pals all around the world, and I’ll tell ya – I worked off and on for over 10 years, year-round on a commercial fishing boat out of Gloucester, Massachusetts and Portsmouth, New Hampshire – sitting on my ass in a van ain’t exactly picking cotton out in the hot July sun in Alabama. As for the different line-up thing, hey – even if it’s me on stage with your grandmother on a ukulele wearing a grass skirt – if we’re playing Queers’ songs and I’m singing, it’s The fucking Queers”. According to Joe, the current Queers’ line-up consists of himself, Dangerous Dave on bass and a stable of three drummers they use as necessary. Along with that, a standing invitation is extended in the direction of 90’s-era fan-favourite, B-Face to join back up on bass for a tour or record whenever he wants.
“It’s a fun way to operate”, explains Joe, “It keeps it fresh”, and with over 30 members in and out of the band since their first tour in 1992, it could be argued that freshness has been the key to longevity for The Queers; and conversely, for a grizzled sea-farer such as Joe Queer – whose best skills are employed as a professional punk rocker – the longevity of his band may be the only key to his own freshness. “I owned one [restaurant] and was on the verge of buying another one, but I did one tour and said fuck this shit. No one is cheering for me when I’m flipping burgers; and except for screwing a few bar whores who are passable-at-best in the looks department I wasn’t getting laid much either. One tour with Screeching Weasel and then another one with Rancid and I sold out and started playing music full-time”.
All full-time music careers aside, despite his being an Atlanta resident and that city having a ball team in the play-offs this year, Joe was none-too-pleased at the prospect of being perceived as a Braves fan when questioned about his allegiance to his home-city squad.
“Oh shit I hate the Braves. Never liked them. I live here ‘cause my wife likes Atlanta but I’m not a fan of the city that much and certainly not the Braves. I’m a Red Sox fan so I’m rooting for any team to beat the Yankees. I think the Braves suck – they won’t go anywhere. Christ the Phillies are going to go all the way and they deserve it, they’re a great team this year. Fuck the Yankees and fuck the Braves”.