Clip: Bob Mould and Imperial Teen's Roddy Bottum on Queer Culture
BENT INTO SHAPE
Bob Mould and Imperial Teen's Roddy Bottum on Queer Culture
by Jennifer Maerz
Now in its second year, Seattle's premier queer music festival, Bent, works
to promote the music of queer artists and showcase both big and emerging
talent. This year the good times run Thursday, June 26, through Sunday,
June 29, at various venues, while monthly Team Bent events continue
throughout the year. (For more details, see www.bentfestival.com.) To help
kick off this weekend's celebration, we corralled D.C.-based Bob Mould (who
will perform solo and is currently working on an electronic music project
called Blowoff) and L.A.-based Imperial Teen's Roddy Bottum (who is working
on film scores and will show his documentary on incest, The Cucumber
Incident, on the Sundance Channel soon) to chat about domestic
partnerships, Gravy Train!!!!, and Cyndi Lauper's worn-out welcome.
Why did you both decide to be part of this particular festival?
BOB: For years, my perception of Pride weekends hasn't included indie rock,
and to have it at what seems to be a very organized and credible setting
can only do a lot of good. If people find out about it in other cities, the
people who put Pride weekends together could maybe include [a similar
Why don't you think other Pride events include indie rock?
BOB: Maybe because the people who put a lot of these events together are
older than us, and just don't perceive that as part of the community, when
in fact it's been a real integral part of the community, especially in the
last 10 years.
RODDY: In Los Angeles, I just saw a poster the other day [for Pride] that
promoted Cyndi Lauper and Belinda Carlisle as the big headlining acts! I
don't necessarily need something indie, but I need something smart that
doesn't cater to a stereotype, and that's how the Bent festival seems to me.
Are there similar kinds of events in L.A.?
RODDY: There always have been. L.A. and San Francisco seem really welcoming
to gay youth culture that's not so much the old stereotype of
four-on-the-floor dance stuff. We played with a fun band recently, Gravy
Train!!!!, and to me they epitomize where queer youth culture is going...
which is wild and varied and really fun.
Do you both have any questions for each other?
RODDY: Yeah--Bob, do you find that you're gender-specific when you're
writing about love?
BOB: Well, on the last couple records, I've been pretty homo. And it's
interesting to watch how the traditional longtime fan responds to songs
about things like same-sex longing. I think people who have been with me
for the long haul are seeing that there really is very little difference at
the end of the day, and that's rewarding. How do you feel the business is
these days? I have my own opinions, but I'm always curious about other
people who are very out, and if their work reflects it. Do you notice if
doors are more open, while others get closed?
RODDY: I don't notice closed doors. If that comes up, people aren't going
to be brazen about it. No one wants to be caught having [a homophobic]
attitude in this day and age, especially in the entertainment industry.
BOB: I only see it in terms of how some large media conglomerates look at
an artist who might carry a message that would be contrary to their primary
RODDY: I've heard stories of radio program directors not playing things...
particularly this Imperial Teen song that was on our first record, and was
getting some radio airplay. It reached a point where it didn't get played
anymore, and someone was citing this program director in the South who
refused to play the song, and others took his lead.
BOB: I've heard anecdotal evidence of stuff like that, and you just shrug
it off--it's like, what can you do? But I do think things have gotten a lot
better, despite the government in power. Having said that, though, I think
domestic partnership and benefits are [important], more than formalization
of a union and marriage--just recognizing that people are life partners.
We've got to get to that.