"I’m sick of trying to be palatable for people I don’t really wanna appeal to in the first place," said Nadeen.
Nadeen (she/her), Annie (she/they), and Dewey (they/them) make up the queercore band The Groans, which formed in 2015 and became its current core lineup in 2018. With Nadeen on drums, Annie on vocals and bass and Dewey on guitar, the band creates hardcore punk music fueled by "pure queer rage," according to Nadeen.
(Photo by Maya Christensen)
The three draw inspiration from similar musical artists, all the way from Sleater-Kinney to The Breeders to Donna Summers. Overall, the lyrics of The Groans are inspired by the personal experiences of each band member as well as events happening throughout the world that The Groans feel should be spoken about.
"What can we do with the platform that we’re given when it comes to writing?" said Annie. "Something like screaming in people’s faces, just in case we’re gonna be put into different environments that are not queer-centered and stuff like that. So it’s more so like, I just wanna be in everyone’s faces."
"Just so blatant, just like hundred footers but as a band," Nadeen added. "Like, if you’re gonna put us on that lineup and think that we’re just gonna be the cute little palatable tokens, you’re wrong."
(Photo by Quynn Lubs)
The Groans have been playing shows since their beginnings, and have found that the Los Angeles punk scene is not always as "inclusive" as it deems itself to be.
"For awhile I only felt comfortable dressing how I wanted, being who I wanted, at shows," said Dewey. "And then, I’m at the point now where I’m just like, I don’t care anymore. I’m just gonna always try to be the best me I can be, but even then it’s like, spaces and places that say, ‘Everyone is welcome here,’ it’s bullshit like 99% of the time."
The unwelcoming nature of the shows The Groans used to play led them to meet other bands who felt similarly towards the scene, and eventually the queercore scene emerged, connecting artists and communities with a safe and comfortable environment.
"We were the token queer band on so many lineups for so long where we’ve connected with the other token queer bands from other lineups, and it really did just become a really cohesive scene," Nadeen said.
"I think once really established friendships from band to band became stronger, the scene became stronger, and I think we moved away from that era of being the token band on like a backyard party’s lineup just because they want, you know, the image of saying it’s a safe space, which is bullshit. There’s no safe spaces. Shows aren’t safe spaces," said Annie. "But they can be places that we can have fun with our friends if it’s like, the right lineup. I’m really grateful for the scene that has been growing and been being established. I don’t think there’s quite a concreteness to it, it’s just very fluid and flowing."
"It’s the best thing to, on a local level, empower each other," Dewey said. "And even on a state level, like we see friends from Seattle we don’t see a lot, and then we do see each other or we connect through the internet, it’s always like, you understand me, and I understand you."
(Photo by Quynn Lubs)
When it comes to continuing to create during COVID-19, The Groans participated in multiple virtual shows over the year and a half of quarantine, including a virtual performance for Cyb3r 3scap3 in which the band edited imagery from their favorite films, videos and queer icons on to a green screen behind them.
The Groans played their first in-person show since the start of the pandemic on Friday, August 13.
"I think that’s another thing that we’re all navigating when it comes to accessibility is just people’s needs at different times, and how quickly things change," Nadeen said in regards to playing shows in-person. "I might have some capacity one day and none the next, and I hope everyone can just move forward just respecting people’s capacity."
The Groans hope the scene will change for the better along with the development of more in-person shows popping up, especially after the year-and-a-half long seclusion.
"We can’t just go back in to the way it was and pretend like that’s something we wanna go back to," said Nadeen. "Like, what’s what it was? We have the opportunity to change everything right now."
"And it’s the same old thing, just like, stop booking so many white bands," Dewey added.
"It’s kind of disappointing that these promoters have sat through solitary and still give their platforms to white people," Annie said.
The Groans often speak on "taking up space," empowering and urging their followers to do the same.
"Just existing is an act of resistance enough, but it’s still not normalized," Annie said. "Like, we’re technically not welcome fucking anywhere, and it’s unfortunate seeing possibly straight cis males taking up spaces in places that they don’t fucking need to be at and shit like that."
"It’s really unfortunate being strategic about your identity where like, I don’t fucking want to anymore," Nadeen said. "Like, that’s it. You’re just gonna take what you’re gonna get, what we’re gonna give."
Watch the full interview below!
Nadeen: okay, is it like, time?
N: okay, alright
Dewey: i’m dewey, i play guitar, my pronouns are they/them
Annie: i’m annie, i scream and i play bass, and my pronouns are she/they
N: i’m nadeen, i drum, my pronouns are she/her
Q: how long have you guys been a band and how did you guys meet?
N: groans have been groans longer than i’ve been a groan. y'all started in like 2015 right?
N: but this is like the core lineup.
D: but then we all fell in love in may 2018.
N: correct. we’re in our formative years.
Q: what are some of the musical influences you would say behind the groans?
D: i feel like a lot of our core artists connect, like screaming females for example
A: to like sleater-kinney
D: to like sleater-kinney
A: to even like some pop stars, too. why not?
N: the classics, what’s like really out-there and like shaped my musical taste like as a kiddo, and then just like moving from there, just our friends. our friends for sure.
N: the scene, the current scene, the queercore scene then and now.
D: like some of us like disco, some of us…
A: i was gonna say donna summers. i don’t know, grace jones. there’s like a lot. and like a lot of things inspire us and it just like somehow just all correlates in our music. yea. like, i fuckin, i’m a breeders stan.
N: i think it shows, too. breeders stans, yea.
Q: so your guys’ music is like, very heavy and like obviously very politically charged, and so what inspires you when you’re writing your music?
N: pure queer rage.
A: yea, like catharsis like through songwriting. and then, also like, what can we do with the platform that we’re given when it comes to writing too. so like, i don’t know, like, something like screaming in people’s faces just in case if we’re gonna be put into different environments that are not queer-centered and stuff like that. so it’s more so like, i just wanna be, we wanna be in everyone’s faces.
N: just like so blatant, just, like hundred footers but as a band. like if you’re gonna put us on that lineup and like think that we’re just gonna be the cute little palatable tokens, you’re wrong.
Q: you also talk a lot about like taking up space, so do you wanna talk about like what you mean by that phrase and like how you want it to inspire your audience and things like that?
A: existing like, just like existing, is like an act of resistance enough. but it’s still not, i hate using the word, but like normalized. like, we’re technically not like welcome fucking anywhere and shit and like it’s unfortunate seeing like possibly like straight cis males taking up spaces in places that they don’t fucking need to be at and shit like that.
N: it’s like really unfortunate being strategic about your identity where like, i don’t fucking want to anymore. like, that’s it. you’re just gonna take what you’re gonna get, what we’re gonna give.
D: it’s difficult to, i don’t know, like, for awhile i only felt comfortable dressing how i wanted, being who i wanted, like at shows. and then, i’m at the point now where i’m just like, i don’t care anymore. like, i don’t care anymore. i’m just gonna always try to be the best me i can be, but even then it’s like, spaces and places that say, ‘everyone is welcome here,’ it’s like bullshit like 99% of the time.
N: yea, i’m sick of like trying to be palatable for people i don’t really wanna appeal to in the first place. i think that’s the beautiful part about it too is that we were the token queer band on so many lineups for so long, where we’ve like connected with the other token queer bands from other lineups and it really did just become a really cohesive scene.
Q: what’s been your guys’ experience in like the l.a. punk scene? like you said you were always like the token queer band, have you like kind of separated yourself from that scene and moved more towards like, the queercore scene? or have you like tried to… like what are ways you’ve tried to like make it more inclusive, ya know what i’m trying to say?
N: yea i think once like really established friendships from like band to band became stronger, like the scene became stronger and i think we moved away from that era of being the token band on like a backyard party’s lineup just because they want, ya know, the image of like saying it’s a safe space, which is bullshit. there’s no safe spaces. shows aren’t safe spaces. but they can be places that we can have fun with our friends if it’s like, the right lineup. i’m really grateful for the scene that has been growing and been being established. i don’t think there’s quite a like concreteness to it, it’s just very fluid and flowing.
D: yea and like, i don’t mean to speak for them but, like the best shows definitely have been the ones put on by our community. just like safety wise, and like even like monetary wise.
N: that’s just a fact.
D: like we’re appreciated more. we’re fed at shows
A: fuckin cis male fuckin promoters have tried it with like us, and we’ve seen it like being done to other like either woman-fronted or femme-fronted bands or fuckin queer bands, too. it’s just… nah. nah.
Q: what are like some ways you think the scene can improve on inclusivity? or if it’s like too far gone…
N: i don’t know. i really hope that the scene and people who wanna be involved in the scene do put community first and have inclusivity at the forefront of their minds when they’re booking or partying or whatever, but i think there also just needs to be a level of honesty where, if we’re being honest, like i said, shows just aren’t safe spaces unfortunately. we can make them safer, but it happens time and time again where, you gotta look out for yourself first and foremost because there’s a lot of bad actors, just anywhere.
A: for real. it’s like, and it’s not as simple as a fucking quota. like, ‘oh okay, i’m just gonna like, yea, like i’m gonna fill up these spaces in this lineup so i can be deemed inclusive or my shows can be deemed as inclusive,’ like really put in the fucking work. and like, not to be like, don’t even like put in the work if you wanna like, if it’s literally out of like, selfishness. i don’t know, like what does everyone else want? like the people that go to shows, ask what those people want out of a fucking show because why are they showing up? like what is your whole intent of throwing shows and bringing people together, because that’s technically community, when people come together for one thing that they all mutually like or whatever, or care about. so, i don’t know. put in some work.
N: yea, show promotion, establishing a scene, it’s just all, it’s a lot of responsibility. i think people just need to be very up front with what they want from these spaces.
D: yea, you can’t just say, ‘this is a safe space.’ and then, that’s it, it’s a safe space
N: no, it’s a conversation.
Q: back to like, your guys’ music, what would you say, how would you describe your writing process?
N: slow and steady, and painful, and beautiful.
A: i think it’s maybe easier like, us having music in front of us for the lyrics to like, stick to it. that’s what i kind of notice and i find easier for myself. just personally, ya know? but, yea, i think just kind of like what is like kind of happening at the moment too. like, what’s kind of going on, what needs to be like spoken about, or like what’s just eating away at our own fucking minds and stuff like that, too.
Q: and then also i know you guys have been doing virtual shows during the pandemic, what do you like about the virtual platform and what do you like not really enjoy about it?
A: accessibility. like, not everyone can purchase like fancy-shmancy mics or fancy cables or like a, what are those things? like a mixer and stuff like that so we can get good sound to like provide to like our listeners at home
N: it’s a damn production
A: it literally is, and that’s not accessible for anyone. like we literally were pretty much quiet for like a good half of the pandemic because, i don’t know, like, we couldn’t really fuckin do that
N: yea it’s not really within our capabilities, we’re just like such like, show up and play
A: punks, we just show up
A: we pretty much did it on our fuckin own for like cyb3r 3scap3’s virtual
N: yea, and that was a production. i was really proud of it
Q: it was very well edited
A: thank you, yea our best friend reese like helped us with the, was like our director
N: director’s chair, director hat, everything
A: really awesome, and it was pretty cool to like also add visuals from like films that we all like to also maybe like help visually put across like, i don’t know, how we feel or like i don’t know, like i would love to like, i would love to castrate like, an abuser. so, yea. i’m not joking
Q: yea, we would all love to. we should do it together
A: yea! i’m fuckin down
Q: next music video
N: accomplices, not allies.
Q: when do you guys think you’ll be returning to in-person shows? any time soon, or?
N: sometime soon. it’s in the works. it’s in the works, i think that’s another thing that we’re all navigating when it comes to accessibility is just people’s needs at different times, and how quickly things change, and how quickly, like i don’t know, i might have some capacity one day and none the next, and i hope everyone can just move forward just like respecting people’s capacity.
D: yea. i think right now it’s very, like, how you feel personally, and like, i don’t know, it kind of puts me the wrong way when promoters just kind of always try to take advantage of bands. and i think right now is a very important time for artists to be like, ‘this is what i’m worth. this is what i want, and that should be met.’
N: we can’t like just go back into the way it was and pretend like that’s something we wanna go back to. like, what’s the wat it was? we have like the opportunity to like, change everything right now.
Q: what are some things you would wanna change?
N: just being valued. hoping that other people recognize other peoples’ value and capacity,
D: and it’s the same old thing, just like, stop booking so many white bands.
A: yea, like it’s kind of disappointing that, like these promoters have sat through like solitary and still like give their platforms to white people.
N: yea, y'all had time to think, geez
A: like a whole fucking pandemic and uprising. like, come one, like, really?
Q: what do you love most about being involved in the scene?
N: each other
A: yea, definitely like meeting new people, and like, finding people that, i don’t know, get it, and stuff. and like, also like, want the same things that you want out of your own community. like, finding people that literally just want to make it better and stronger. and like, more efficient. it’s really cool. it’s just like reassuring. like, i feel it’s like validating too, when you find other people, literally other, like, comrades and stuff like that.
N: yea, it’s just the part that feels good.
A: yea, it feels bomb, yea.
D: yea, and it’s the best thing to like, on a local level, empower each other. and even on like, a state level or, we see friends from seattle we don’t see a lot and then we do see each other or we connect through the internet, it’s always like, you understand me, and i understand you.
A: and like they want the same things for their community and stuff like that. they have like the same goals that like, ya know? it’s just really cool. this mutual feeling
N: this interconnectedness.
A: yea and it’s like on like an almost, like, international level maybe even, too. like, it’s cool.
A: we just had like a virtual show at MOAH theater in lancaster and yea, it was like, really nicely shot, and like, we look cool and that’s cool, so like
N: it’s very fun to pull up on the youtube cast straight to the tv, and like, watch us on the big screen
A: if you haven’t seen like the cyb3r 3scap3 performance, watch that. so you can catch some of our favorite films or like imagery and stuff. or like, icons in queer history that we admire.
A: spotify, bandcamp, bandcamp’s cool.
Q: bandcamp fridays
A: listen to earth dweller
Q: so that’s all i have for you guys, thank you guys for doing this! i’m so excited.