Extreme Woman: Laina Dawes

Extreme Woman: Laina Dawes

this is part of a photo series i’ve been working on since 2011. it is a collection of photographs of badass women involved in metal, hardcore and the borderline metal/punk/avant-guarde worlds. these are the people who make up the music scene. these are my friends.

Extreme Woman: Laina Dawes

Meet Laina Dawes, music journalist, author of ‘What Are You Doing Here’ and concert photographer.

tell me about the conference you recently did.

LD: I recently presented at the Metal & Marginalization Symposium which took place at the University of York in the UK, but I Skyped my presentation in from Brooklyn.  My presentation was entitled, “The Music or the Message? A contemporary analysis of racism, anti-semitism and misogyny in the extreme music scenes.” By using my book as a jump-off point, I talked about the difficulty in navigating the metal scene when there are issues with artists who have expressed racism, Anti-Semitisim, homophobia and misogyny within both the live performance and within the lyrical content and imagery via the cover art. I wrote about my personal experiences and the experiences from black women involved in not only the metal scene, but also the hardcore and punk scenes in my book, but there has been quite a lot of discussion since the book was released a year ago. It seems like the question: “do you or should you support and artist based on their music, or take their politics into consideration when listening / purchasing their music or going to see them perform live?”, is something where there is no clear cut answer. Granted, its a personal decision, but we in the metal scene tend to judge each other on whether we do or not. The conversations I’ve had in the past few months and the blowback in relation to this issue has been extremely disappointing, so I was fortunate enough to talk about my research at this event.
 
what was your first metal experience?
LD: Discovering KISS at a very early age. I was more enthralled with the imagery than the music at the time, which as a kid, was scary as hell but really exciting. I also loved that they seemed really powerful and  intimidating, with were aspects that I desperately wanted to have for myself. Outside of listening to my older sister’s ACDC and punk albums, the mainstay for me was Judas Priest, which I got into at 11 or so. 

Extreme Woman: Laina Dawes

I first talked with you years ago, when you were interviewing for your book. Since then, A LOT has happened. Let’s chat about your book, which I still haven’t read because I’m a slow reader and a TERRIBLE friend. Can you talk about some of the reactions you’ve had.

LD: Overall, the response has been great – more positive than I imagined, and the amount of reviews and interviews I’ve done has been incredible. I must say that the metal community – magazines, podcasts, my journalism colleagues – have been BOSS! On the other hand, there has been a small contingent who is angry that the book exists. I’ve heard from black ( as in black people, lol)  metal fans who have thought that by talking about the black female experience in metal that I’m somehow making race an issue in an environment when it should be about the music. I’ve also gotten some feedback from predominately white males who are angry for the same reasons, as though I’m an outsider who is simply trying to take the scene down – which I don’t have the ambition, nor the power, to do. 

I look at it this way: The extreme, underground metal scene needs as many fans  as possible in order to keep it alive. Bands need fans to buy the albums, buy merch, pay to go see them perform live and more importantly, spread the word.  Race IS an issue in relation to making those things a reality for a number of people.  I’ve talked to a number of young black people and people from other ethnicities both before and after the book was published who are afraid to support their favourite bands in a live environment because they are afraid that they are going to be racially harassed. Because we live in an environment in which everyone has access via the Internet or through other forms of media to explore a myriad of different musical styles, racism within the scene – and the book is not specifically about racism (which has been a misconception) – doesn’t make any sense from both a cultural and economic perspective.  Why not shed light on it to make it as inclusive as possible? I’m a lifer in the scene. I’m not going anywhere. 

Extreme Woman: Laina Dawes

Will there have to be a part two?
LD: I hope so. I have a couple of ideas but graduate school is currently killing me.

Now that you are FINALLY in NYC, what are some of your favorite places to spend time and money?
LD: Honestly? I’ve been hibernating, just trying to keep my head above water with my course work, my school office gig and my freelance music writing assignments. However, Saint Vitus is my go-to venue, as the bands they have playing there are great, and it’s a pretty chill vibe. I love Brooklyn, though, and I love to walk around and explore the various neighbourhoods and cheap take-out places. The diversity here is wonderful but the gentrification is insane! I also plan to get back into tourist mode during the summer months and get out other parts of the city. 

On Monday May 12th, you can catch Laina taking part in a panel discussion after the screening of the documentary ‘Rock, Rage and Self-Defense: An Oral History of Seattle’s Home Alive’ at the Spectacle Theater in Brooklyn.

Some links:
http://www.lainad.typepad.com/

http://www.bazillionpoints.com/shop/black-women-in-heavy-metal/

Extreme Woman: Polly Watson

Extreme Woman: Polly Watson

this is part of a photo series i’ve been working on since 2011. it is a collection of photographs of badass women involved in metal, hardcore and the borderline metal/punk/avant-guarde worlds. these are the people who make up the music scene. these are my friends.

Extreme Woman: Polly Watson

Meet Polly Watson, musician, writer, editor and a positive presence at metal shows in NYC. Her current project 1-800-BAND releases Diver Blue EP on April 8th. Below I ask Polly about her personal metal history.

What was your first metal experience?

Polly Watson: My first experience with metal apart from TV was seeing DRI at the beginning of crossover thrash play a warehouse filled with fish tanks in Iowa. The tanks were filled with fish, and they were quaking and sloshing. There were about 20 people present, and all 20 of them were in the pit. I felt a cold wind blow through me!

How the did you end up in Baltimore doing vocals for Triac?

PW: I never did vocals for Triac; I was in a vicious-style band called suspicious devices with Noel from Triac; Matt, who’s now in Biters; and Eric, who plays bass in Iron Cross and guitar in ravagers but is a fantastic superfast drummer. Matt put it together; I met him in B-more when I was in older bands. Suspicious Devices lasted about a minute because I would just take the bus down there at night after work, we’d practice, I’d sleep a couple hours at Noel’s house, take the 5 AM train back and go back to work.

No time for hanging out, and to be honest, it wasn’t very much fun to work on stuff alone up here, so it was probably doomed from the start, but they are the best guys and have all gone on to bigger and better!

Oh good. I’m glad to get the Triac thing cleared up. Both Mick and I, for the longest, assumed you were in the band. We’ve tried to put the timeline together in our heads, MANY times. Haha.

Tell me more about booking shows in a Chinatown karoake bar. Did any of your DIY shows get shut down?

PW: I put on my first show in my parents’ backyard when I was 15. I went door to door leaving flyers with a drawing of a big nuclear explosion on them letting everyone within a mile radius know there would be a show in my backyard and that it would be super loud. My mom dressed up in case the cops came, which they did. The grass in the yard still has not come back.

Since then, even more than playing in bands, I love putting on shows or parties in weird places. Or playing weird places. I don’t get to do it as much as I’d like because I work too much.

S.W.A.T. Bar. I think my sister told me about it, she lives nearby. It was a lot of old Chinese guys playing dice and one very drunk guy singing every song in the book. Joe, who ran the bar, let me have a show. It was pretty full and we were all really happy! Then at like 1 a.m. some EDM DJ came in and there were a ton of european models there to hear him and you couldn’t move. Pretty funny; Here I was, thinking “I found it!” not exactly! Anyway the worst that has ever happened at any show I’ve put on is people getting busted for drinking outside.

You’re the music editor for High Times (aka every once in a while my bosslady), a copy editor for a ton of publications (including Bazillion Points), plus you make music and love going to shows. How do you manage your time? What’s your secret to working hard, going out all the time and still feeling fabulous?

PW: I am the worst time manager, THE WORST. If you searched my e-mail the two most common words would be “sorry” and “late.”

What are you packing for these tour dates in May? (books, music, things you can’t live without, etc.)

PW: I will be traveling with my teddy bear, who makes a fantastic pillow.

Also do you have any tour secrets?

PW: If you put a can of soup or ravioli or whatever on the dashboard at 8 am on a sunny day, it will be warm and ready to eat by the time you get to the club.

Tour Dates:

4/5/14 @ Record Grouch, Brooklyn, 7 p.m. early action!!!
4/25/14 @ Gold Bar, Baltimore
5/2/14 @ Gooski’s, Pittsburgh, PA
5/4/14 @ Quarters Rock n Roll Palace, Milwaukee, WI
5/5/14 @ Triple Rock, Minneapolis, MN
5/6/14 @ Emporium, Chicago, IL
5/7/14 @ Painted Lady, Hamtramck, MI (taco night!)
5/8/14 @ Bourbon Street, Columbus, OH
5/9/14 @ Bell House, Brooklyn w/Dwight Twilley, Pezband

This Is Forever

Tiger Flowers

Tiger Flowers

Actually. This is not forever. It’s quite the opposite. Part of this is a very once a year event. The other part is once every three years? I think? Anyways, what I’m getting at is that one of the best bands on this planet will be parading their jingles around the east coast + Ohio + WV for a week, starting this Friday April 4th. And if you don’t happen to live in Rochester, Brooklyn or Chillicothe, Ohio, you can still experience the wrath of their madness via record.

Tiger Flowers Tour Dates:

April 4 – Newburgh, NY @ The Wherehouse
April 5 – Potsdam, NY @ Hurley’s
April 6 – Rochester, NY @ Firehouse Saloon
April 7 – Akron, OH @ Old Haunts
April 8 – Dayton, OH @ Blind Bob’s
April 9 – Chillicothe, OH @ Tecumseh Inn
April 10 – Parkersburg, WV @ 5th Street Pub
April 11 – Baltimore, MD @ Charm City Arts Space
April 12 – Brooklyn, NY @ The Gutter

stream Suicide Giants + Batesian Mimicry

buy Dead Hymns

Tiger Flowers

Tiger Flowers

Vampilia at DBA

Vampilia

Vampilia

In case you missed the above ^, there will be more Vampilia tour dates

March 12nd@The Hideout, SWSW show case
01:00 AM to 01:50 AM

March 13rd@The Grackle, SXSW UnOfficial Day Party Japan Preview day show
March 16th@Knitting Factory, Brooklyn, New York
March 17th@Ruby Tuesday Live, Columbus
March 18th@Double Door, Chicago
March 21st@Athens Slingshot Festival, Athens
March 22nd@Backstage Bar & Billiards, Las Vegas
March 23th@Til-Two Club, San Diego
March 24th@The Independent, San Francisco

Mossenek

Mossenek

Mossenek

Mossenek

Mossenek

Mossenek

Colin Marston
Colin Marston

Colin Marston

Vampilia
Vampilia

Vampilia

Vampilia

Vampilia

Vampilia

Vampilia

Vampilia

Vampilia

Vampilia

Vampilia

Vampilia

Vampilia

Vampilia

Vampilia

Vampilia

Vampilia

Vampilia

Vampilia

Vampilia

Vampilia

Vampilia

Vampilia

Vampilia

Vampilia

Vampilia

Vampilia

Vampilia

Vampilia

Geryon
Geryon

Geryon

Geryon

Geryon

Geryon

Geryon

Geryon