Yesterday we caught up with Liverpudlian sass masters, Queen Zee and Frank from ‘Queen Zee & The Sasstones’, a glittering force of pop-punk who have barged through a myriad of manufactured bands delivering frantic, chaotic and breathtaking shows for their often bewildered and always entertained audiences. Bringing with them hedonistic fun and excess abound through their performances and recordings, their earworm melodies and endearing tracks often comment on the life and struggles of themselves and their audiences be that personal, social or political, making them speakers and entertainers combined. It then comes as no surprise to discover they have been asked to support Cabbage on their upcoming The Healing Brexit Towns Experiment Tour as both bands speak for their audiences, speak for the masses and nudge, nay kick, society’s social and moral conscience forward in the direction our world desperately needs to heading in.
Introduce yourselves and describe yourselves in 3 words…
I’m Queen Zee and to sum myself in 3 words… erm… far too pink.
I’m Frank – I’m lovable, huggable and cuddly.
Is it true to say that a lot of the music you produce can produce an extreme reaction in people?
Queen Zee: I think so. We played on the Introducing stage today and you can tell that kids are down to the front [intrigued] by the colour and then there’s people stood at the back looking like ‘WTF is going on?’ (laughs)
Tell me all about the music – where’s the inspiration come from and what gave you the rock ‘n’ roll fever?
Queen Zee: I think what’s interesting about us as a band is that we all like different music. I think as a band we never sit round and say we want to sound like this band or that band, like an indie band that loves Libertines for example. Myself and Em the guitarist met at a black metal show that’s like hardcore and heavy music whereas Frank was in a reggae band, our keys player was in a pop group and our drummer was in an indie-type band. So we all like different stuff, yet we are like creating pop music with guitars.
What’s the ultimate goal for you guys?
Frank: Headlining that there! (points to Leeds Festival mainstage)
Queen Zee: That’s a start, but if you have an ultimate goal once you’ve done it where do you go from there? Plenty of bands say, ‘We wanna headline Glastonbury!’ ‘I want a platinum selling record!’ … then they do and they can’t sustain it. Whereas we’d rather aim a bit higher. We wanna be the first band to play on Mars. Or we wanna be the first band to have a quadruple platinum selling album! (laughs) Lets go to space, have the world’s biggest circle pit and break some world records!
Your live shows have a bit of a reputation for taking your audience to the edge! Do you have any pre-stage rituals?
Frank: Just dicking about!
Queen Zee: We usually don’t have clue what’s going on! Before we did this [today at Leeds Festival] which was a landmark moment for us, we had a bit of a huddle but Frank fucked off…. So we just did it without him.
Frank: Typically, I just drink a lot of water and then say ‘I’m tired I don’t want to do it …’
Queen Zee: We get really excited about an hour before we go on so we’ve usually already peaked and then we’re moaning, ‘We don’t wanna play the show!’ (laughs) The minute the lights hit me though I just explode, there’s no build up I don’t stretch, I don’t think, ‘Hmmm what can I do? There’s people looking at me I’ll just scale the tent walls!’
Tell me all about Queen Zee who is she, what is she about and how does she differ to you if at all?
Queen Zee: That’s an interesting question as I usually get asked about drag. When I first started the band I had come out in drag but I wasn’t presenting it as much as I am now. So, I guess Queen Zee was my way to live it, my confidence grew and I realised I was surrounded by like-minded people who supported me so I was able to out and use Zee as my name, it’s more of a crossover now. When you’re on stage its still you, you’re still yourself but its more of an enhanced, adrenaline-pumped, ego-filled version of yourself.
Its a difficult question to ask as it has absolutely no relevance to your music but with the current highlighting of how difficult things can be for women in the industry, how does it feel being a transgender woman in the industry? Do you feel supported?
Queen Zee: Its a hurdle in some ways, as there are a lot of pre-packaged bands out there that look great and sound great – they see four blokes playing guitars and sound like ‘this band’ that’s already making so they go, ‘Lets pump some money into them’. Then we roll up, we’ve got a transgender-fronted, hardcore band and people go ,’What the fuck?! How do we sell this?!!’ But on the other hand, we do have people who want to sell it and use that as our unique selling point. That can become problematic as I don’t want to be used as a novelty. I see myself as a transgender person in a band. It’s not a transgender band. Our team, managers, and my bandmates have been amazing. Everyone’s been really supportive and I feel like I’m in a unique position to be myself and express myself and use this as a little bit of a platform for it. I remember when Paramore came out and they were selling them as a female-fronted punk band but no one ever says here’s this male-fronted male band.
What is happening for Queen Zee & the Sasstones right now? What can fans look forward to?
Frank: We’ve got a video coming soon that has been absolutely titillating to say the least!
Queen Zee: We’ve got an EP coming out on the 22nd of September – that is four brand new tracks. Each one of those is going to be a single as well. Then we’ve a huge stupid tour with Cabbage that seems to go to all the small towns in England playing all the smallest venues in the world! We’ve loads more shows to announce, that’s all to come.
Frank: We’re going see how long we can get away with it for…
Queen Zee: We’re basically going to keep touring till we die.
Their Eat My Sass tour commences today!
25.08.17 Leeds Festival
26.08.17 Old Blue Last – London
27.08.17 Reading Festival
16.09.17 Rec Roc Festival – Buxworth
23.09.17 Sassden at Sound Basement – Liverpool
The band join forces with Cabbage on The Healing Brexit Towns Experiment Tour on 27th September:
27.09.17 The Picturedrome – Holmfirth
28.09.17 Preston 53 Degrees – Preston
29.09.17 Stockton Ku Bar – Stockton
30.09.17 Leeds Live Art Bistro – Leeds
05.10.17 ULU Student Central – London
09.10.17 Peterborough Met Lounge – Peterborough
11.10.17 Dundee Church – Dundee
12.10.17 PJ Molloys – Dunfermline
13.10.17 Inside Out – Darlington
14.10.17 Drawing Room – Barrow
17.10.17 Arts Centre – Norwich
18.10.17 Bedford Esquires – Bedford
19.10.17 John Peel Centre – Stowmarket
20.10.17 Slade Rooms – Wolverhampton
21.10.17 Buckley Tivoli – Buckley
… then Eat My Sass continues:
10.11.17 JT Soar – Nottingham
12.11.17 Pie Race Festival – Leeds
18.11.17 Dead Good Gathering – Liverpool
25.11.17 Sassden at Sound Basement – Liverpool
09.12.17 Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar – Brighton
For more information and tickets:
Please book from specific venues for non-Cabbage-related Eat My Sass tour tickets!
For Cabbage-related tour tickets please book on: https://www.stereoboard.com/cabbage-tickets
RACHEL BROWN/KATE O’BRIEN