Members of political pop band Boys' Entrance is returning to Chicago after a five-year hiatus to celebrate their 25th anniversary and catch up with old friends.
OutMusic Award winner Tim Cain is no stranger to the scene in the Windy City, having established himself here years ago. The latest project, Tunnelvision, tackles a doomed relationship in the wake of the age of AIDS.
Windy City Times: Hi, Tim. We last talked when you had a show back in 2011.
Tim Cain: Rightwhen we did the ABSOLUTE Fringe shows. We did three of those shows. It was fun because we had acts performing upstairs and downstairs. It was lots of gay entertainment for your money.
WCT: Where is your home base now?
TC: I live in St. Petersburg, Florida. I'm calling you from my deck right now, overlooking Tampa Bay.
I'm looking forward to visiting Chicago. I was contacted by Jimmy Moreheadwho is the artistic director for the Chicago Gay Men's Chorusback last November. He was planning a show called My Kind of Town that is a LGBT retrospective connected to Chicago. He wanted to use on of our songs. He ended up choosing a song called "Give 'Em Hope" that is a tribute to Harvey Milk.
It is a punk-rock song so I have no idea how that is going to translate to the Gay Men's Chorus. We will be at the Harris Theater show on May 20 to find out.
On the day after that, we are playing a benefit for Bear Radio with Scott Free and a bunch of other folks.
WCT: What is Bear Radio?
TC: I haven't tuned in but it is an internet radio station that is geared toward bears. Scott had wanted to do a benefit and he thought this would kill to bears with one stone.
WCT: It is your 25th anniversary?
TC: Yes; we started the band in 1991. We were listed in a book called Chicago Out and Proud that [Windy City Times Publisher] Tracy Baim edited. It listed us as "Chicago's first queer boy rock band." There were lesbian groups before us but we were the first male gay rock band in Chicago.
WCT: Before it was Boys' Entrancebut now isn't it Men's Entrance?
TC: It could be Granddaddy's Entrance these days!
WCT: Where did the name come from?
TC: In 1991, I traveled out to San Francisco and saw my friend Jon Ginoli of Pansy Division. He was working on his first demos and played them for me. I was shocked how it took a different stance from his solo work. It made me want to perform in a band.
When I returned to Chicago and was driving down Belmont past Lincoln and there was this old schoolhouse. Carved in stone over the door were the words "Boys' Entrance." So I decided that was a band I should be in.
WCT: Did you just release new music?
TC: We have a new album called Tunnelvision. It is a gay rock opera. It is a double album with 17 songs. It is the arc of a relationship from beginning to end of two characters, Tim and Troy. It is a disastrous love affair and full of drama. In the middle of act one aliens make an appearance.
We are working with a couple of theater groups down here in Florida on producing the show. When you get the Boys' Entrance Tunnelvision album, it will be presented as a rock album with myself singing throughout. If you went to the show you will find the songs broken up as dialogue between more than one person.
It took me 10 years to produce. We are very excited about it and just got the CDs physically in yesterday. It will be available for purchase on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon and all of that stuff on May 25 for my 25th anniversary.
WCT: Is the Tim character on the album based on you?
TC: Oh, Jerry, Jerry, Jerry. I toyed with changing the names the protect the innocent!
WCT: I need to read the lyrics to these songs.
TC: There is a song on there called "The 13th Step" with the chorus "I'm a sex addict so…"
WCT: So a confessional album?
TC: No; I have never been visited by aliens. It is fiction but based on some facts. The character Tim is a lead singer in a gay rock band, so that part is true. Interaction with this other character never happened.
WCT: What do you think of openly gay singers now like Ricky Martin or Adam Lambert?
TC: I adore Adam. He has been out from the get-go, which you can't say for Ricky Martin. A lot of rock stars play the game at the first then reveal at the end. I always prefer the ones that are up front at the first.
Generally, I think things are good. I look at Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and that is a real mile-marker for me. At one point Stephen Trask, who is the musical writer from Hedwig, was going to fly to Chicago to sing the Troy part on "The 13th Step" that I mentioned. I had been in contact with him but he wanted too much money so that didn't happen. I love the story, though, and them being so queer. The song "The Origin of Love" made me stop writing for a long time because I thought I am never going to produce anything as good as that. It took me a while to find a reason to write more, but there you have it.
WCT: Have you ever performed a cover from Hedwig?
TC: No, but it is on my bucket list.
WCT: We can talk about it in another five years.
TC: I hope we don't have to wait that long. Don't be such a stranger!
Visit BoysEntrance.com for more information about the Saturday, May 21, Silvie's Lounge show at 1902 W. Irving Park Rd. Chicago Gay Men's Chorus performance information can be found at www.cgmc.org . Pansy Division performs at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, on Friday, May 20, with tickets at Lh-st.com .