“At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter to me what these critics or do-gooders think about this band because it’s not about them,” G.L.O.S.S. frontwoman, Sadie Switchblade, told me when I interviewed her over the summer. “While it is really great to make some money off of this band, the crux of playing in G.L.O.S.S. is about trying to exist in opposition to all of these elements of the world that would seek to round off our jagged edges and commodify us, to make us digestible and tolerable by the mainstream culture. We’ve caught glimpses of that and what that would look like and we’re just not interested. We don’t want this band to become something that’s about generating revenue, we want it to be something that’s about generating a movement.”
That movement began when genderqueer hardcore band, G.L.O.S.S., released their first music online in 2015. A vicious blend of classic hardcore featuring Sadie’s powerful lyrics, G.L.O.S.S. was an all-out sonic assault. With the release of their sophomore EP, Trans Day of Revenge, last year, the band toured extensively, receiving press in mainstream media outlets — even being named Pitchfork’s Best New Music. Dedicated to fighting the establishment and representing the queer community, the band, whose name stands for Girls Living Outside Society’s Shit, found it difficult it to be themselves in the face of a rising profile. Now, in an effort to refocus their priorities, G.L.O.S.S. has decided to call it quits.
In a statement released via Maximum Rock ‘n Roll, G.L.O.S.S. detailed the motive behind their breakup:
“G.L.O.S.S. has decided to break up and move on with our lives,” they said. “We all remain close friends, but are at a point where we need to be honest about the toll this band is taking on the mental and physical health of some of us. We are not all high-functioning people, and operating at this level of visibility often feels like too much. We want to measure success in terms of how we’ve been able to move people and be moved by people, how we’ve been able to grow as individuals. This band has become too large and unwieldy to feel sustainable or good anymore — the only thing growing at this point is the cult of personality surrounding us, which feels unhealthy.”
With an increase in media visibility, the group started to feel their music was no longer speaking to the LGBTQ community. Focused, from the beginning, on being an outlet for marginalized voices, the band sees mainstream success as a detractor from their goals.
“The punk we care about isn’t supposed to be about getting big or becoming famous,” they wrote, “it’s supposed to be about challenging ourselves and each other to be better people. It feels hard to be honest and inward when we are constantly either put on a pedestal or torn down, worshipped or demonized. We want to be whole people, not one-dimensional cartoons.”
Founded less than two years ago with the purpose of inciting violence, Sadie Switchblade, Tannrr, Julaya, Corey and Jake combined their DIY ethos with a feminist spirit to create punk anthems for every outsider. Their first EP, Demo, released in June 2015, was a first-person account of Sadie’s experiences as a trans woman atop gritty thrash. Trans Day of Revenge tackled child sexual abuse, incest, domestic violence and police brutality through highly politicized lyrics and pounding guitars.
G.L.O.S.S.’ mix of social consciousness with a hardcore aesthetic made them an authentic and refreshing voice in a highly convoluted scene. It also made them an easy target for media outlets to hail as the saviors of punk rock. For a band trying to represent a disenfranchised community, that kind of attention can be daunting. But their breakup proves they’re even more punk than everyone thought — they’d rather end it all than risk selling out. Either way, we’re going to miss them.
G.L.O.S.S. will be playing Not Dead Yet Fest in Toronto this October, as well as a final show sometime in the next few months. From now on, all proceeds from album sales on their Bandcamp will benefit Interfaith Works Emergency Overnight Shelter in Olympia.
Alex Weiss is a New York City punk, musician, and writer.