Jock Tears, a self-described “sensitive, sporty & sassy” microtonal punk band from Vancouver, B.C. Columbia, is joining Apollo Ghosts on a West Coast tour this spring. Band members Lauren Ray, Lauren Smith, Dustin Bromley, and Spencer Hargreaves perform concise, energetic punk rock that harkens back to the pithy brevity of punk-feminist riot grrrl music. The band released a self-titled album in 2018, and has toured alongside bands such as FIDLAR, The Black Lips, and Prissy Whip across the United States and Canada.
The Siskiyou’s Connor Thompson spoke with the Jock Tears about their music, influences, and live performances.
Jock Tears is different from your average punk band because you play microtonal instruments. Could you briefly explain what micro-tonalism is, and why you chose to utilize microtonal instruments?
It’s really nerdy and cool! Our guitar and bass have been modified to have 17 frets per octave instead of 12, which lets us play different notes than a traditional guitar would. Spencer is involved in the microtonal music community, and brought the idea to us when we started as a band. We tried it out, and were super into the new, uneasy feeling it brought to our tunes.
Ask him about microtonality at our shows and buckle in for a trip into the musical cosmos!
I’ve heard that Jock Tears is famed for performing bombastic, off-the-wall live shows. Why is having this energy on stage important to you as a band?
I don’t think there’s any other way to play and communicate these energetic tunes other than to jump around and physically push that energy out! Jock Tears is forever a live band, and I don’t think we’ll ever be a group to stand around on stage. Whether the audience is jumping around or standing and watching, we love them just the same!
KEXP once called Jock Tears “top-level punk feminism satirists.” Is this an accurate assessment? Have feminist movements such as the riot grrrl scene influenced your music, lyrics, and art in general?
Riot grrrl is a huge influence of course! One of our bassist Lauren’s first bands was a Heavens to Betsy cover band! We bring elements of riot grrrl into our songs, and bring in some positivity too. Angry and optimistic! Martin Douglas really nailed it in that KEXP profile – we felt heard when we read it.
Speaking of riot grrrl, a good chunk of the movement got its start on K Records, and we’re so stoked to be playing with Mr. K Records’ Calvin Johnson on this tour!
What is it like to be a female-fronted punk band in 2019? Punk, alongside other underground music genres, have messy histories when it comes to the inclusion and representation of women. Have things gotten better, or is there still work to be done?
There’s. Always. Work. To. Be. Done.
It’s still super common to hear things like, “you’re pretty good for a girl,” or other discriminatory comments from people at shows. We’re good or we’re bad, you like us or you don’t. Once you add a qualifier like “for a girl,” you disqualify yourself from being allowed to speak to us.
Sometimes being from a more left leaning city like Vancouver, it can be easy to forget we’re in a progressive bubble. Getting out on the road really brings a lot more issues to light.
There’s. Always. Work. To. Be. Done.
And we all make mistakes. Be open minded, learn from missteps, and let’s keep pushing ourselves to be better.
After this West Coast tour, what is on the horizon for Jock Tears as a band? More touring, and/or perhaps a new album?
We’re booked for a few festivals, and we’re planning on writing and recording our second record this summer- get at us labels! Also, we might be touring Europe next!!!