The Olympia punk band G.L.O.S.S. turned down a record deal with Epitaph this week that would have totaled $50,000, according to band member Sadie Switchblade’s Instagram account. (That account, which was private, now appears to have been deleted.) It’s not a surprising move, perhaps, coming from a group called Girls Living Outside Society’s Shit, but it is one that has made ripples in and out of the punk scene and has brought G.L.O.S.S. back into widespread conversation. I’ll do very little linking here, because Googling G.L.O.S.S. already results in way too many posts about their abusers, but the last time the Girls were in the news, it was because an obsolete shoegaze band spewed some transphobic Dilophosaurus garbage at them on Twitter.
Switchblade’s post linked her band’s refusal to sign to Epitaph’s connection to Warner Music Group, one of the three biggest labels worldwide, which has been tied to litigation for price-fixing and damaging its artists’ marketability by making their music impossible to find on YouTube and streaming services. The full text of the Instagram post can be read here. It goes on to say that G.L.O.S.S.’s end goal is to seize their own means of production. “[I]f we can do the work of self-releasing an album, we will not only refuse to enrich corporate music but also in the long run make more money…If we can come up with the startup money to rent a space and hire a couple friends, we can use Total Negativity (our guitarist’s label) to support our scene without having to turn to an outside entity.”
What this band is doing with this announcement, and what they’ve been doing musically since their inception, is acting radically. G.L.O.S.S. doesn’t want a piece of the same pie everyone is eating. They want to make their own. That’s how radicalism works, particularly in feminist politics. It’s not about making the current system equal. It’s about forming new systems.
So let’s talk about the aftermath, one facet of which is the deletion of Switchblade’s Instagram account. One response in particular has been getting a lot of airplay: a “defense” of G.L.O.S.S. by Thursday singer Geoff Rickly. It’s notable for several reasons: First, the piece is labeled a “defense,” which, in Philosophy 101, is what we call a good old-fashioned false dilemma. Stating a need to defend someone implies they need defending, thus fueling the legitimacy of their attackers. And it gets better! Rickly is not actually even defending G.L.O.S.S. at all! He reiterates that he doesn’t think Epitaph, which has put out some of Thursday’s music, is “the least bit damaging to the industry.” He rates (RATES?!) Switchblade’s post “an eye-roll with a laugh of delight tacked on at the end.” He emphasizes that the band is “young. No full-length yet. This kind of stuff seems desperately urgent when you don’t have a ton of experience at it.”
Rating Switchblade as a representative of the punk attitude, pointing out her band’s inexperience, and backhandedly countering G.L.O.S.S.’s perception of the music industry are microaggressions, not stances of solidarity or even support.
Regardless of whether or not you would have turned down the same record deal, this was a bold step from a band that has never been anything but bold—and who doesn’t need defending from rock stars who obviously don’t get it.