Interview by Steven Cosand
Photo by J.R. Nelson.
The internet is an enormous resource with the potential to give
any single person an infinite amount of information in only a matter
of seconds. Today I found myself, a straight male in his 20's, typing
the words “Gay Kiss” for a Google search. Among results such as
Perez Hilton's website, articles regarding Ugly Betty episodes, and
buzz around Adam Lambert, there is some noise being made in Phoenix by
a band under this moniker.
Gay Kiss is the super sexy killer kvlt sister of the late
Connecticut band, Jerome's Dream. The GK is powered by downtuned and
wanky guitar driven melodies appropriately ridden behind a wall of
drum and buzzsaw bass. While they keep true to their hardcore
predecessors, Gay Kiss brings a seemingly gender ambiguous identity to
the open tribunal of punk rock. These guys are challenging the
conventional methods of hardcore and punk one smooch at a time.
I met up with Gay Kiss at a local pool hall for a few games and
shots of cheap whiskey. Afterwards we armed ourselves with malt liquor
& a tape recorder whilst discussing Arizona politics, bureaucratic
tendencies, and current music trends among other nonsense. This
interview was conducted in a vacant bedroom in Tempe, Arizona (a close
Phoenix suburb) during the not so harsh Arizona winters of 2010.
ERL = Echindna Rulings Later
MM = Mitch Mitcherson
RRC = Roger Calamaio
SC = Steven A. Cosand
ERL - My name is Echidna Rulings Later. I play drums. My name is
Daniel -- Daniel is my given Jewish name.
MM - I'm Mitch Mitcherson LLC. I play guitar.
RRC - I'm Risky Roger Calamaio. I sing opera. I'm a vocal artist.
SC - Who is missing from your band?
RRC - Two bassists. One whose name we can't say. We call him Q, but he
doesn't ever want to be mentioned in anything. He's private. He's a
rad guy, but the other bassist is an international super star. Twan.
He had to leave the band to sort of pick up his hustle on the streets.
He's actually supposed to be doing this interview for us because he's
our publicist too.
ERL - That actually brings us to our second, second bassist. Baby
Napps. You might call him a third bassist.
SC - Why did you decide on the name Gay Kiss & where did that come from?
ERL – Oh my god. So it goes like this. I was reading a headline from a
newspaper. The only newspaper I read is the BBC. So I'm reading the
beeb. (everyone laughs) They call it the fucking beeb in England! So
I'm reading this and I see something that has apparently gone down on
television regarding a gay kiss. It was live and no one had a chance
to edit it out. The headline read something like “Nation Outraged by
Gay Kiss” and something about the words Gay Kiss in print really
struck me and I thought it was really strangely disgusting that people
were so upset by it. It is important to note that Steven Colbert of
television -- the machine, not the band... Steven Colbert of
television mentioned in passing, in a joke, that there was a gay KISS
cover band named Gay Kiss. We're going to follow up on that as soon as
I stop being a shitbag.
SC – What are your intentions behind having two bass players and only
one guitar player?
RRC- I was in a former band with Q and when we broke up we kept in
touch. He really wanted to be in a band with me, but he's like a real
adult and does real things with his life. So like he couldn't really
devote much time to it. These two and I were supposed to be in a band,
but it fell apart for various reasons. I still wanted to play with all
three of them really bad. Q is an awesome guy, but he couldn't devote
too much time to it. We decided if we were going to start a band
together it would have a primary bassist and we could play shows and
do whatever we wanted, but he would always add what he wanted whenever
he wanted too. Sort of as an auxiliary bassist and I think it's worked
SC – How long have you been playing together?
MM – Probably about a year.
ERL – In this current incarnation about a year. Yeah.
SC – What was it's earliest form?
ERL – Just a different guitar player. Totally different music. Worst
music. Worst fucking music.
SC – What are the dumpster rules and where does that come from?
RRC – I was hungover one day going to my car at my former girlfriends
apartment and I was parked by a dumpster in her complex and there was
a list of rules posted on the dumpster in terms of what junk you could
put in there. What was okay and what the rules for disposing waste
were. I just felt like it resonated that there has to be by laws and
red tape for how we throw our trash away. It kind of made me think
about how at this point everything seems to be governed. Even used
condoms or whatever other bullshit you may have to throw away.
Everything is accounted for and very last aspect of life is bound to
some sort of structure. We all live by the dumpster rules.
MM – We didn't even know that. But that, THAT’S COOL MAN.
SC – So, [Dumpster Rules] is the name of your 7 inch that is coming
out soon. When and where did you record that?
MM – This past summer with Nasty D.
ERL – Yeah, it was this past summer with Nasty D, Derrick Fish. Fuck
City Studios in Tempe.
SC – So the record is coming out when?
MM – Soon. The test presses are in the mail. So very soon.
SC – and who is putting the record out?
ERL – Anxiety Machine. It's our good buddy Mark's label. It's also
worth noting that my second cousin is Paula Abdul.
SC – I heard about some sort of altercation that happened at a dubstep
party in downtown Tempe over beer pong that Gay Kiss may have been
ERL – YEAH. Essentially the way this went down: We're at this fucking
horrendous party. Jesse and I think it would be funny to play beer
pong. Something we're not necessarily... used to doing. Something,
which, up to then, we probably had never done. It's all about new
experiences. That's what life is about. If you want me to talk about
life... Getting back to the party, we're trying to play beer pong and
we walk in and Jesse says something to the effect of, “Can we have
next?” and the guy at the table says, '”Sure. As long as you're not
faggots like the last guys.” So Jesse, sort of without thinking, says,
“Man, if you didn't like those guys, you're gonna fucking hate us.”
More or less this thing just starts to escalate to the point where I'm
absolutely hammered and I tell the guy very confidently that the way
this is going to transpire is that I am going to take Jesse and mount
him on the beer pong table and we're going to have passionate gay sex
with each other and that shouldn't matter to anyone. Then we were
going to flip over and the reverse was going to happen... or the
MM – The dude's sidekick comes up to us and there's like 5 of us. He
comes up to us and he's just talking shit and we're just making fun of
him. He's like, “Really?!” and he starts counting each one of us --
“1, 2, 3... alright there's 5 of you,” -- and then he starts counting
his fingers, and then he starts balling them up in a fist. “1, 2,
ERL – He's pointing at all of his knuckles and counts to 10. Then he
counts his knees. 11, 12. Elbows. 13, 14. I was waiting for him to
start counting his toes, but he didn't. My sole regret is that I
didn't break his nose while he was counting his knuckles.
SC – and how did you resolve this?
ERL – The main dude starts freaking out because he realizes there’s a
bunch of us. Nothing was probably going to happen anyways. He comes up
to me like I'm sort of an ambassador to the gay community. He comes up
and puts his hand on my shoulder and says “Look bro I don't want any
trouble... My brother's gay.” and I ask him why he uses the kind of
language he does. He says “I call my brother a faggot all the time!” I
tell him that that's not cool. I told him to stop calling his brother
a faggot and that was the end of that.
RRC – Can I stop you for one second? We are not homosexuals. Gay Kiss
is not gay, not that it affects anything on a personal level
obviously; I don't give a shit if people think I'm gay, and nobody
should give a shit if anybody is gay of course. It affects nothing.
But aesthetically the name is capable of sending mixed messages. We're
not a queercore band, and we aren't pushing any sort of agenda. It's
strictly a name that is meant to incite shock in an absurdist sort of
way. If you think about it these days almost any band name seems
irrelevant, so why not have one that's totally outrageous...
MM – I get what you're saying. You don't want us to be stacked next to
like Pansy Division and shit. I personally could care less if people
think we are gay or not. When I joined the band I disliked the name
because none of us are actually gay. It bugged me that it might come
off mockingly. We tried to change the name and we were vetoed by
people in the area; It just never caught on. Now I really like the
name because it will make the right people uncomfortable and, on its
own, is an interesting combination of words. We lyrically do not have
any gay subject matter, but people should be able to kiss, love, and
fuck each other regardless of belonging to the same gender.
SC – Mitch. Tell me a little bit about The Tightholes.
MM – We were just a punk band that like... I don't know. I started a
punk band because I hated my life and didn't want to think about
playing in a real band and just got out of a band that was really
serious. I was just tired of putting serious effort into it and wanted
to play something mindless and something I could play while I was
drunk. That was one of the main reasons I started the Tightholes, and
we grew to hate each other. We basically failed miserably at
everything we tried to do. People in the band, just... I can't
explain. I had difficult band members. Here's a good example. We had
practice one day. We were supposed to practice at 12 and since we're
all losers we ended up practicing at 2 or 3. We're practicing at
Sonny's house and we finally get there and Cory grabs the drums and
there's shit leaking off of them. Like some sort of liquid and we're
just like, “Yo your drums are wet bro.” and all the sudden Sonny says,
“OH YEAH! Someone peed on your drums last night.” and we're just like,
“SERIOUSLY?!” That's a good example and that's just nothing compared
to other stuff.
SC – What was this about CDs inside of Sonny's butt?
MM – We were so stoked that we had this show. This was a bigger show
with Youth Brigade, I think. Which I don't give a fuck about them, but
they're a bigger band and we were kind of stoked about it. We never do
anything. We never legitimately released a CD so we're so stoked that
we're burning little samplers for people to have. We get there and
we're gonna throw these CDs out while were playing. We start playing
songs and I look over and Sonny has CDs in his ass. His pants are
down, his dick's flopping around and fucking CDs up his ass, and so he
pulls a CD out his ass and some weird dude picks it up. That's a good
example too man. Anything we tried to do we failed miserably.
SC – Roger, tell me about Lethargy Press.
RRC – Lethargy Press was something I did, something I do… I've always
been a sad slash angry piece of shit. I don't consider myself a cynic.
I consider myself a realist. Anyways, I write bullshit poetry because
I just do. I had something published at the University I kind of go
to. I just got to the point that I was so sick of the literary
community and I had some pieces that I really wanted to get out there.
I have a DIY ethic or whatever so I just went and published them. Put
a little fucking saddle stitched zine out. I didn't really know a lot
of people around town then, I was like 18 then. So I went to Eastside
Records and left a stack on a counter and didn't do much for years. I
just basically use the name to put out whatever the fuck I want to
now. I’ve released a tape for Tightholes, a book of poetry by Allister
Rutter, a “scroll” of prose by my insane friend Cody Libetreu, along
with two volumes of my own work and a split zine with a person named
Vincent. I have a few releases lined up.
SC – Is your poetry similar to the lyrical themes in Gay Kiss?
RRC – They're basically about... trying to deal with having to look at
yourself -- realizing that there are certain aspects of yourselves
that are always going to be... not good. Not necessarily
disappointing, but just not well intentioned. It's about facing the
fact that there are things about yourself that are fucked up and
they're always going to be fucked up. Whether it be sexual or violent
or whatever inadequacy or bad tendency you have. No matter how you
deal with it it's always going to be there. It's still gonna be that
voice in your head and it's about facing the very fucking worst of
yourself and coping with it.
SC – So you're all from the Phoenix metro area. Tell me about living
in Phoenix, playing in Phoenix, and what you've guys experienced here.
ERL – The place treats us well. It's a really interesting community
for the stuff we're doing. DIY punk rock type stuff. It's also
dominated, to a large degree, by people really aspiring to get out of
here, which is a really weird thing to have hovering over your head
--- but you'd be hard pressed to find a person here that doesn't want
to be somewhere else. I don't know if that’s necessarily true of all
of us. Sometimes it's true of me and sometimes it's not. I'm mostly
referring to people who move here earlier on in their life or people
who were born here who feel compelled to move somewhere else,
somewhere more glamorous. But on the same token, I think a lot of what
we have here is due to the fact that we have to work for it. It's not
fucking NY. It's not Chicago. It's not Los Angeles. Everything we have
here is something we've worked for. We put on our own shows. Everybody
knows everyone else. People have their beef and bullshit, but we just
make it work I guess, and I think that's pretty cool.
SC – What is there that you don't like about Phoenix?
ERL – It's really fucking hot. I don't like the way this place looks.
It's fucking disgusting.
MM – It looks like a fucking parking lot.
RRC – I have a Phoenix city emblem tattooed on my arm. It's a huge
part of my character and I've only come to realize it recently in
terms of the fact that I'm really integrated in this town. There's
this weird thing about Phoenix: everybody has their own trip and there
is a lot of division and cliquishness, whether intentional or not… it
can make the music scene difficult and unsupportive. Phoenix is a big
fucking town and it makes it difficult to have a tight-knit music
community. If you're going to try and go to a show chances are you're
going to have to fucking drive a pretty fair distance to random
dilapidated warehouses in sketchy parts of town. The public transit
sucks. It’s a mean place for an artist, let alone one who belongs to a
community of artists. Phoenix is a mean place period, but I love it.
SC – Mitch, tell me about your experiences in the Phoenix scene. Tell
me about The Nile.
MM – The Nile was fun, man. My old band played the basement and it
sort of became our home. It became familiar. Not to mention that a
huge chunk of the shows during that time were housed there. When I was
younger shows felt like they had more of a social stew going on in
terms of cliques. It's true that the concept of cliques in general is
goofy, but this caused tension and I've seen people at the Nile get
violent. At shows today we may not all be friends, which is totally
fine, but I haven't seen a militant straight edge crew at a show I've
attended in forever. In a weird, weird way I kind of miss it.
Sometimes your disagreement with someone's ethos can inspire you. Last
year the Nile sort of re-opened, but honestly it's not even the same
place. It's cool the guy tried to keep it going, but I haven't had
much reason to go there, and the one time I went it was far from
nostalgic. Sometimes you just have to let things die. Make new places
and forget about the old ones. So yeah uh, anyway, I have a love/hate
relationship with this city. I live in South Phoenix and it's kind of
a bad area. It's a haven for meth heads that forage through your
backyard for scrap metal to sell. I tend to have more fun in Tempe,
plus its the home of my favorite dive bar, the Palo Verde Lounge, so
it's not all bad. I really really hate the weather though.
SC – Arizona has been an international issue lately concerning law SB
1070. Tell me a bit about the law and how it has effected the local
ERL – Um. [With respect to bands boycotting Arizona,] I think it's
kind of cowardly and it's kind of a disservice, because if these bands
want to make change or a statement they do need to come here and do
need to talk to people. These bands have a fucking enormous platform
on which to stand and speak to these people why  is unjust and
RRC – First off fucking bands refuse to play Arizona on general
principle. We’re the city that bands avoid just because we're
desolate, and weird… Bands don't like to come to Phoenix, period, so
it's easy for super huge acts to say “Were not going there because we
disagree with their politics.” Our state is run by a cowboy-ass,
Italian gangster, quasi sheriff asshole who is obviously and openly
bigoted. He has a political lapdog for a fucking governor here. We’re
right next to Texas in terms of dumbass neocons and it's just that
kind of atmosphere. We're gun toting assholes. This is still the wild
west. You're allowed to legally carry a concealed weapon anywhere. You
deal with speed freaks, crazy ass yuppie scoundrel motherfucks. It's
just a haven for massive pieces of shit.
ERL – With respect to the bands boycotting AZ for SB 1070, this is an
open invitation from me for Rage Against the Machine to never ever
ever fucking play here again because you're fucking terrible and
you're cowards, you're idiots. Never play here again.
SC – So with that being said do you guys consider yourselves a punk band?
MM – We add elements of whatever we want.
RRC – There's a lot going on. We're closer to hardcore than anything I
feel . We have a lot of almost latent gothiness and sort of a sex rock
vibe sort of like Arab on Radar and early Daughters. Super high
ERL – We like very obscure shit you've never heard of. We like things
you don't know about.
MM – We're super big fucking losers.
ERL – Sometimes I make my own bands and they're fucking brilliant but
I don't want anybody to hear them because the world does not deserve
my art. It's true though. (everybody laughs) No, I am dead fucking
serious. I am not stealing that from Vincent Gallo. Vincent Fucking
Gallo said that. You know that shit-head Vincent Gallo? He has this
weird quote where he says something like “Yeah I was a very gifted
painter, but I stopped painting because I felt the world doesn't
deserve my art.” I'm also going to call out Vincent Gallo.
Drunken rants can always bring out the best or worst in people, but
nothing could really have better prepared me for what went on during &
after that interview. The Dumpster Rules 7 inch will be February 2011
from Anxiety Machine Records. Add them on myspace, like them on
Facebook, and look out for dates coming near you soon.
- Steven A. Cosand
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