THEY TOLD US WE WERE GIRLS / HOW WE TALK, DRESS, LOOK & CRY
THEY TOLD US WE WERE GIRLS / SO WE CLAIMED OUR FEMALE LIVES
NOW THEY TELL US WE AREN’T GIRLS / OUR FEMININITY DOESN’T FIT
WE’RE FUCKING FUTURE GIRLS / LIVING OUTSIDE SOCIETY’S SHIT!
So begins the utterly fearless demo from G.L.O.S.S. (Girls Living Outside Society’s Shit), a hardcore punk band out of Olympia, Washington. Released in January, the demo became a big underground success. It became crucial listening for punks who are hungry for more music that vocalizes queer and trans experiences with brutal honesty. We’re not talking about just a few feel-good tunes you can passively listen to. With G.L.O.S.S., each song is an unapologetic war cry that needs to be screamed aloud and together. Within the next few months, you’ll be able to do just that: G.L.O.S.S. is hitting the road for their first tour.
Originally from Boston, friends Sadie and Jake each grew up going to hardcore punk shows. Like many punk scenes, white suburban male punks made up most of the audience of these shows, but Sadie, then a closeted trans teen, was drawn to the music nonetheless.
“Bands like Reach The Sky and Bane struck a chord with me because they showcased an emotional vulnerability that wasn't really allowed in punk at that time,” says Sadie. “Punk was this space [where] I could wear tight clothes and nail polish. I spent most of those years in the back of the room, but I was always listening, always feeling.” In 2011, Sadie and Jake formed the punk band Peeple Watchin’ in Boston and later moved to Olympia.
Shortly after their arrival in the Northwest, Jake wanted to start a new hardcore project, but Sadie was a little reluctant. She had moved to Olympia to slow down, get sober, and deal more with her emotional life—“I didn't know if fronting a hardcore band was necessarily going to be conducive to that.” Things changed, however, when Sadie started to meet other like-minded punks in the Olympia community. She met future G.L.O.S.S. bassist Julaya in a strip mall parking lot.
“I really feel like I was raised on punk,” says Julaya, who grew up in Olympia and loves the city for its communal vibe and attitude of acceptance. “I think it says something about 'the scene' in Olympia that most of my teenage friends still live here, go to shows, play in bands, make t-shirts, etcetera. White boys still dominate the punk scene, but they actively try to use their privileges to create space for other voices.” Julaya hadn’t played bass before joining the band, but devoted herself to long practice sessions, both out of excitement and her perfectionist attitude. She also introduced the group to Corey, who had played drums for several punk bands. Sadie rounded out the band’s lineup by inviting her Tankini bandmate Tanner “Tannrr” (also of the queercore band Slouch) on board as a guitarist.
Over the course of several months, G.L.O.S.S. practiced rigorously while playing a few local shows with friends. Their hard work paid off. G.L.O.S.S.’s demo was released in January of this year and essentially blew up overnight. Their limited-run of cassettes via Not Normal tapes sold out almost immediately and PunkNews.org called it “one of the best punk demos of the year.” Apart from the music’s satisfying aggression, most of the demo’s success stems from Sadie’s empowering lyrics. “The words really resonate with people and I am proud of Sadie for being so honest and raw,” says Julaya. “I don't think others would have connected in such a real way otherwise.”
The five-song record clocks in at about eight minutes, but begs to be put on repeat. A strong current of the Boston melodic hardcore sound circa 2002 that Sadie reminisced about runs throughout the demo, complete with sludging bass and beats anyone would lose their shit to. But this music isn’t just dedicated to any hardcore kid (read: cis males). In “Outcast Stomp”, Sadie puts it quite clearly: This is for the outcasts/ Rejects/ Girls and the queers/ For the downtrodden women who have shed their last tears/ For the fighters/ Pscyhos/ Freaks and the femmes/ For all the transgender ladies in constant transition.” She’s speaking directly to that person at the back of the room, maybe even to herself in her teens; it’s a meaningful message she might have needed back then, a message long overdue for marginalized lovers formally finding themselves on the fringes of the hardcore crowd. G.L.O.S.S. puts these listeners front and center. From the wild circle-pit-inducing “Masculine Artifice” to the all-out vengeful tune “Targets of Men,” G.L.O.S.S. never shows signs of letting up. In fact, the tracks run seamlessly between fun feedback and count-offs just before each song’s end. Wailing guitars rip through this short record and the occasional soloing doesn’t come off as boastful like it can on other hardcore records. Here, the solos support the vocals, helping to lift up each message with the same poignant fury. What listeners are left with is five tracks of purely cathartic, life-changing music.
“I consistently feel bowled over by the [positive reaction to the demo],” says Sadie. “I have been brought to tears many times from letters, emails and conversations at our shows with other queer and trans folks who have been impacted by our songs… I think for trans women to be honest about their lives there [will] be a lot of pain and a lot of shit to dig up. Singing in G.L.O.S.S. is kind of like getting to be a superhero, like weaponizing a lifetime of anguish and alienation.”
In addition to their demo, G.L.O.S.S. plans to release an EP this winter, possibly tour Europe next year and hopefully release their first LP soon after that. For now, you'll just have to catch up with the band on tour.
Top photo by Robert Cameron.