[QUEERCORE] Team Dresch has never been predictable. Since the Portland-based punk band formed 14 years ago, its four queer members have broken social and musical conventions with songs like “Hate the Christian Right” and “Fagetarian and Dyke,” using poetic lyrics and riffing guitars to jumpstart the ’90s queercore movement. After all this time, its activist-musicians still face one nagging question: Have the issues facing women, especially queer women, changed since the band started? Kaia Wilson, Donna Dresch and Jody Bleyle wonder if the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Donna Dresch, bassist:
I don’t really think things are better now. [Activism] is no longer a lonely process, [but] there’s no longer the sense of urgency that was so exciting. That’s my nice way of saying people might be more apathetic. It started with queer zines and then queer zines moved into queer bands, and then it seemed like there was a lull. And now, people will just do, like, a queer night.
Kaia Wilson, singer-guitarist:
There are more women who have actually formed bands, some that are better than we ever were.... There’s Bitch, there’s Bust, there’s Venus, [so] there’s more major national[ly] distributed, overtly feminist [magazines]. One thing I find negative is that people tend to think that we’re post-feminism, so [they] shy away from talking about being gay.... It’s not news that women can rock, but it’s important to recognize that we have a lot more [to do].
Jody Bleyle, singer-guitarist:
I’m talking to...a young friend, like a 14-year-old, who’s thinking about coming out...and it’s hard for her to find other queer people. With activism, what does it really mean over the long term, other than the institutions that are left behind so that people like her can access it? On an underground level, it comes down to, is there a club that’s hosting all-ages shows where queer bands play? Are there any young queer bands that people want to see? I don’t know.
Team Dresch plays the Siren Nation Festival Friday, Nov. 2, at the Wonder Ballroom. 11:45 pm. $25. All ages. Visit sirennation.org for a full schedule of events. Read the extended Q&A here.