Joe King sings and plays guitar for the Queers, and wants to work with Brian Wilson and Andy Paley.
How have you seen punk rock change since you became involved with it?
Joe: Well, back in high school, that's when I started the Queers back in the early 80's, I wasn't really into the scene. I went to a lot of shows and shit, but I was a total fan back then. I don't know. Punk, like California, I don't know, it's hard to describe. It meant more. Those kids really lived it back then, like Black Flag and the whole suburbia-type scene. It was exciting back then to see Black Flag. I saw the Germs. I don't know. It's so stupid. These kids now are little rich kids saying "Oh, so and so's on Epitaph" or "Oh, so and so's on Geffen" or whatever, and they don't like the bands because they're on major labels which is completely idiotic because if it's good music, it's good music and who gives a shit what fucking label it's on? The Queers, we try to be a throwback to the old days like the Ramones and the Angry Samoans and our whole thing is about having fun. I understand there's a message to be had and all that, but we let the other bands do that. We're trying to go back to where you go to the show and kids, to me, just don't have fun and it doesn't look like the musicians have fun either. We're making a video Saturday. We're going to make a video for a song off the new album called "Punk Rock Girls," and I've been watching MTV a little bit. I don't really watch it, but none of the bands look like they're having fun. The songs are too long. These bands seem so conceited, they have this big message to share, they know so much more than their audience. I don't know. To me, it's changed and it's not as much fun, like Black Flag's "TV Party." They ended up getting too serious too, but "Nervous Breakdown" and "Jealous Again" and "TV Party," I mean, that was great and that was funny. People get too serious. You have to laugh at yourself. We have fun. When kids come to Queers shows, we have fun and that's it. We have no big message, but we have fun. I don't know. How it's changed, it's become a big business, so I don't know. That's good and that's bad.
Is it better now or worse than when you got involved?
Joe: I think it's better now, because there's more acceptance for us coming out with an album. Maybe my band has evolved, so I don't know if that's fair to say. I think it's better now though. Nirvana helped open doors. Green Day opened doors. Offspring opened doors. Rancid opened doors. I think it's better now. People are more open-minded now.
Do you think there's anything wrong with punk?
Joe: Yeah, these kids. In the old days, if you saw someone in a leather jacket, you were a friend, like "Hey, there's a fucking punk rocker." Now, you got your little factions. The Oi boys, the fucking crusty punks, the fucking pop-punkers, this and that. Fuck that. I think everybody should pull together and everybody should stop taking themselves so fucking seriously and have fun. That's what punk rock was about, thumbing our noses at fucking society and the fucking whole music world, you know? You can still do that, and that's what we try to do. We're getting pretty popular and we're having fun. Like any other thing, there's good and bad people. Some people are just mean, a lot of the reviewers and shit. They can't do it themselves so they slag bands. My attitude is I see these shitty reviews, you have to be your own worst critic. You have to know what's good and what's bad and I know this album is our strongest album. There'll be some people who put it down, and it's like, "Yeah, well, what music have you made lately?" You know? But the whole scene, I don't know. It could be exciting. It could be exciting and I think it's still there, people have to stop taking themselves so seriously, I think that's a big thing, and start having fucking fun again.
What's good about it?
Joe: I think punk's good because, and it was the same in the old days as it is now, it was for misfits and fucking square pegs in the round holes. People who didn't fit in could be accepted and taken seriously. You could get accepted. And it's fun. I mean, you don't see this energy level. It's exciting that there's this underground scene that gets no radio airplay, yet bands like NOFX or the Queers or Screeching Weasel can draw in big crowds and they don't have this mass acceptance. So it's this whole underground thing happening still and it's neat that it's happening. It's fun. It's like our little scene when all these kids show up to see the Queers, it's like our little scene and we don't care what's going on outside the door but we're having fun and it's cool and it doesn't matter that you don't hear the Queers on the radio all the time or whatever.
How have you seen the crowds and people at shows change?
Joe: Well, we've only really played out in the past four years, toured, and before that we would kick around Boston in the late 80's and we didn't do a lot of the hardcore shows, so I don't know. In some ways, it hasn't changed though. The kids keep getting younger that come to our shows. I haven't seen the crowds change that much. I mean, I know they have, but you still get the mean bastards there and they were there years ago and you still get a bunch of goofballs like me that we fucking showed up and stayed out of trouble. Before, like with Black Flag, with the DKs, with the Germs or whoever, the Circle Jerks, you went to see the crowd. The crowd was the fucking show. You went to see the crowd. I mean, it was incredible. Kids may be a little nicer than back then, but there's still the energy level and they still won't accept bullshit either. You have to get up in front of these kids, you can't fucking do a rock show. You have to get up there and fucking play your ass off and that's the only thing they'll fucking appreciate.
Do you see any problems with the way people act at shows?
Joe: Well, you got a few troublemakers who usually try to ruin it for the whole crowd. Usually, we get a really nice crowd, so we don't run into too much trouble. There are always going to be a few troublemakers but the crowds are usually pretty nice, at least at our shows.
What can we do to make the scene better?
Joe: Everybody fucking start being a little more tolerant of everybody else's space and because you don't like a band or whatever doesn't mean they're bad people. If everybody would have more fun, then a lot of fucking shit would go down the drain, a lot of the headaches, you know? I mean, we're in our own little world in the Queers world with Mr. T and Lookout! Records and Screeching Weasel. It's not bad, it's not a bad little corner of the fucking punk world we have, kids show up to have fun and there aren't a lot of assholes at our shows and the records are selling. So from where I am, it's not bad. We don't want to change it a whole lot.
Final thoughts? Anything you'd like to add?
Joe: Like I was saying, our thing is to put fun back in punk rock again. There's no huge message and there doesn't have to be, but we're having as much fun, us and our audience, as any band out there, I think, and we're proud of it.