Talking gay kisses, violence, and tears.
Hardcore band Gay Kiss started in the winter of 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona with a completely different line-up than they have today. All that has stayed the same is the name. Fast-forward a few years, when Roger Calamaio (vocals), Daniel Schurgin (drums), Mitch James (guitars), and Jirix-Mie Paz (bass) joined together to actually make some music. They turned Gay Kiss into more than just a concept and started playing dirty, fast hardcore and touring it around the country. Their songs are vicious, intelligently structured and, although aggressive, bleed none of that gross alpha-male blood of machismo hardcore. (Maybe that’s because all the men in Gay Kiss have some real sentiment in their souls?) Their debut LP, Faults, drops in December. I decided to ask the boys about their band of gay kisses, their own gay kisses, the new Gay Kiss record, and the violence and the tears.
Why did you call your band Gay Kiss?
Dan Schurgin: The name came from a headline I saw a few years ago, probably six months before the band actually formed. It said something like, "Viewers Outraged By Gay Kiss" and pertained to something that had happened on live television. The absurdity of the whole situation—that anyone could be offended by an innocent display of affection—kind of took me aback. Homophobia obviously wasn't some new phenomenon to me, but seeing the words "gay kiss" accidentally put the whole thing into perspective. I liked the idea of being subversive through affection, and if that's the sort of thing that offends you, you deserve all the irritation that comes your way.
Well, Googling your name is pretty interesting… and annoying.
Roger Calamaio: A friend of mine actually told me he saw a girl post a picture on Tumblr of herself holding a piece of paper that said something to the effect of “Don’t even try Googling ‘Gay Kiss Hardcore.’” Mission accomplished, I guess.
Is anyone in the band into gay kissing?
Mitch James: I end up kissing dudes on New Years... apparently.
Roger: I remember a long time ago, I was trashed at a house show in Chandler and Dan was there, also blitzed. Rumspringer [band from Tempe] was playing, and for some reason, Dan felt compelled to continuously grab me and kiss me. This was before I really new him and I remember thinking it was kind of weird. Kind of like, “Does that weird drunk dude think I’m gay?” Mind you, I made no attempt to stop him. I think we’ve both just got a lot of love to give.
Jirix-Mie Paz: Roger and Mitch may deny it, but I saw them kiss each other one night at a party. I swear it’s true.
Your debut LP, Fault, comes out in December. Process?
The LP was written and recorded over this past summer. Jirix-Mie recorded the whole thing himself. I recorded the vocals in the broom closet of a bathroom at our warehouse practice space in South Phoenix. It was the middle of the summer and it was just plain fucking miserable. Mitch printed out and taped to the mirror this taunting thing he made on Photoshop of a terrible embarrassing moment I had had recently to help enrage me. By the end of, it I was naked in there and covered in cuts I made with a packing tape blade. I punched a hole in the wall and it was pitch black because the light switch turned on the bathroom fan simultaneously, which the microphone would pick up, so it was just a bad scene. Truthfully, it makes me feel kind of sick listening to the vocals on the album sometimes as a result. That’s not even trying to sound dark or cool or something; it was just a fucked up experience.
I bet it sounds good though. What is the best lyric the new LP?
Roger: “Fuck your fuck friends” is my favorite lyric penned to date. It sums up several contentions I hold very dear regarding my current reality. It would take ten interviews to flesh it all out.
Story goes that you named your first seven-inch "Dumpster Rules" because, while in the car with your girlfriend, you saw a sign by the trash with a list of rules. Does the title of your debut LP have a story too?
This whole LP is about social structures failing and the trite, fucked up, lies we tell ourselves, and each other, to keep some form of unnecessary artificial peace. People’s insincerity never fails to blow my fucking mind in half, in the music scene especially. Inflated egos, trend-hopping, and backwards sexual politics: a mass of incestuous social climbing. I feel like my mind is unhinging itself constantly as I watch people interact with such docile and sugary behavior towards people they loathe in secret. It’s so obvious and pathetic and it causes a bit of trouble on my end in terms of motivation to do essentially anything ever. So the album title stems from a line in "Cruelty," which is really the most scathing track on the record that simply says, “It’s your fault.” This was actually Mitch’s suggestion.
What does it mean?
Essentially, it’s our fault for making this life miserable on everyone to satisfy some non-existent barrier of niceties. Our need for harmony and copasetic juvenile fantasy cripples us, plain and simple.
What was the first album that made you excited and turned you on?
The first hardcore record I ever heard was Minor Threat’s Complete Discorgraphy. The first time I heard filler, I knew at 13 years old that I had found “It” somehow. Nothing seemed to capture the hatred and immediacy I felt at the time. I can still listen to that record end to end.
Jirix-Mie: The most honest answer is Spice World when I was in elementary school. Spice Girls rule. Beyond that, I downloaded Napster in the fifth grade and got a hold of Black Flag and NOFX.
You just made me feel like I am a senior citizen. Moving on, when was the first time you got deeply violent?
Roger: Kindergarten. There was a girl I liked even though I didn’t know why I liked girls yet. She was getting twirled in the swings by this other boy Kyle and it looked like he was making her cry, I walked over tapped him on the shoulder and socked him in the face. Immediately afterwards, it came to light that she was laughing hysterically, not crying, so she screamed at me and told me to never talk to her again. Next thing you know, I was in the principal’s office with this tool kid gloating in my face. Looking at it now, this started several reoccurring themes in my life.
Mitch: I’d rather not talk about my sexual interactions.
Dan: When I was four years old, I used to show up to school in cowboy boots, a vest, and a cowboy hat. This kid Richard thought I was something cool, so he started doing it too. Then, there were two cowboys in the class. It irritated the hell out of me. I wanted to be the only cowboy. I ended up biting him and getting expelled. So, Richard if you are out there, I want you to know I learned my lesson: if someone thinks the stupid shit you’re doing is cool, roll with it.
When was the last time you cried?
Mitch: I cry a lot about my dead dog. No joke.
Roger: About four weeks ago. Came across a picture I shouldn’t have had to come across.