Pull on your red pleather boots, slap on some lipstick and a pair of heart-shaped glasses and go out dancing. In a field. Or outside a post office. Or in the forest.
This is what front woman of HERS, Melissa L. Amstutz, does in the video for "Please." She places her hand stiffly on her head, positioning her own body. She dons a platinum blonde wig, and we are forced to see her enact a strange femininity. Gender truly is a performance, and one we all undergo each day. We see that there is so much more to a woman, to Amstutz, than blonde hair and red lips.
The video and the album, Youth Revisited, reverberate with ghostly subtext. The title is lonely, once you realize the album tells the story of Melissa Amstutz's queer awakening after growing up in a religious, military family. Frustrated, desperate lyrics, and fuzzy guitars are quilted with tight marching rhythms, military radio distortion, and band instruments. The result of four years of work with AJ Mogis (Cursive, Bright Eyes) at ARC studios, Youth Revisited feels like a complete expression of a time, place, and viewpoint.
The band began as Honeybee and Hers when Amstutz reconnected with her old friend Rachel Tomlinson Dick in college, with whom she had started her first band when they were sixteen. They reunited at the University of Nebraska in Omaha along with drummer Cody Peterson, later adding bassist Ellen Wilde. Once Honeybee and Hers recorded their first album at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, that was it for Astutz. She courageously decided to come out as a lesbian and divorce her husband, start a feminist punk band with Tomlinson Dick called the Wayward Little Satan Daughters, and embrace a louder, noisier sound. They decided to drop the Honeybee, and finally HERS was born.
From as young as four years old, Amstutz was in musicals, theater, choir and show choir. Singing and dancing all the time and playing shows nearly every weekend with her high school band was her escape. "It was the best part of my high school experience," she says. "I think it saved my life."
So "PLEASE" put on those dancing shoes. It could wind up being really, really good for you. Tell us what you think of this exclusive new video in the comments below!