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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



Shame and The Shondes
by Amy Wooten

This article shared 3680 times since Wed Sep 10, 2008
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The Shondes, a four-piece political post-punk band from New York City, are the outsiders' outsiders, but they wear that badge with pride.

This queer political band, heavily influenced by riot grrrl and queercore as well as traditional Jewish music, gets its name from the Yiddish word for 'shame' or 'disgrace.' Three-quarters of the band are Jewish and three-quarters are trans.

The band's in-your-face, dramatic debut album, The Red Sea, has created comparisons to the now defunct all-girl rock trio Sleater-Kinney as well as political punk Patti Smith.

Windy City Times spoke with drummer Temim Fruchter right after they kicked off their long, fall tour.

Windy City Times: How did you first end up connecting with the other three members of the band?

Temim Fruchter: The three of them went to college together. I met them through a combination of activism and sort of just being in the community together.

WCT: Its kind of perfect that you met that way, because you are a very political band that is all about activism and politics.

TF: Definitely. That brought us together. We were all into various musical and creative things, and so it really worked out. I was itching to start a musical project, so the timing was really good.

WCT: When did you first get involved in music, and what attracted you to the drums?

TF: I grew up in a pretty musical family. I grew up with a lot of singing, and my dad plays at weddings and events and my brothers are involved, so I grew up around it. I first dabbled in it, and didn't commit to one thing. When they were talking about starting a band, there wasn't a drummer. I was excited about singing, but I picked up the drums, as well. They were like, 'Go for it! You should totally take up drums!' So, I took them up when the band started. It's definitely a new pursuit.

WCT: I noticed that several of you are involved in Jews Against the Occupation ( an anti-Zionist organization ) . How much would you say Judaism influences your music, your sound? Obviously, it influences your life.

TF: I would say just as much as any aspect of our lives influences our music. For the three of us, Judaism is pretty central to who we are. So, we sort of bring that to the table as much as our activism, as much as the other stuff and components we bring to the music.

WCT: And all of your either identify as queer or trans, as well, so I'm sure it's just as important as that aspect of your life.

TF: Exactly.

WCT: Do you feel like queer-identified bands are still pigeonholed quite a bit, or do you feel like it's improving?

TF: It seems that as I learn more about it, it seems pretty mixed. It definitely seems like there is a tendency to put a lot of music by queer people in sort of the same publications, listening venues and to the same audiences. I think there's also something very powerful about having such a supportive community. But in terms of press stuff, that can be hard. But I also think, in my short experience of being in this band, there has been some increase in the ability to access other audiences and other press outlets. I think it's mixed, but pigeonholing is definitely still a struggle.

WCT: When I listen to your music, I definitely hear queercore and riot grrl influences, mixed in with a lot of other stuff. Who are some of the musicians that impacted your personally, and helped you discover your own sound?

TF: For me, it's always been that the stuff I'm listening to doesn't sound like the stuff I make. I listen to a lot of sort of alt-country stuff, folk and dramatic, gothic rock. I'm kind of all over the band. What I share with my other band mates is a love for dramatic music—anything that's really going to strike a chord or get in my gut. That's the kind of music that I love, and kind of one of our main missions for making music. We want to strike an emotional something for people listening.

WCT: Since you're also very politically involved, is there any political activist or mover and shaker that you've looked up to over the years?

TF: That's a hard one. I have a hard time naming one person. Living in New York has been really exciting as an activist. I've certainly become more political living in New York because you are around an intergenerational community of activists, looking for justice and fighting racism together. I really quickly learned a lot about movement building and reaching solidarity with other groups, because there is so much activism happening in that city. There are a lot of great organizations there. Being in New York has really inspired and motivated me in terms of activism.

WCT: When you are touring all over the country with the band, do you end up making connections with other activists in the Midwest or California?

TF: Absolutely. For me, that's one of my favorite parts of touring. It's not so much like that. It's a rock so, so it's not always the scene for networking, but sometimes someone will get up on stage and make an announcement. Some people have formed affinity groups at our shows. We just like to, as much as possible, mix it up in terms of being both a place to rock out and listen to music and a place to hang out and talk to other people about justice or get involved in things we all care about it.

WCT: Since many of your are involved in both Jewish activism, as well as the queer community, I was wondering if you ever receive any negative feedback from the Jewish community, or for the most part, are most people really progressive and welcoming?

TF: We definitely encountered people in various communities who have been challenged by some of views, particularly about Israel-Palestine, and those are some of the conversations with more mainstream Jewish outlets, so that isn't part of the subject. But we've mostly just had productive and interesting conversations. Definitely, overall, we constantly have supportive audiences—people who are really interested in the music, but people who are also interested in the content and are either challenged by it and talk about it, or support it and are excited that there is music that is affirming that content.

WCT: Besides, the punk scene generally attracts people who are open-minded about many different things.

TF: Definitely. It's been good.

WCT: You just kicked off a huge fall tour? What's the best part of touring? What's the worst part?

TF: The best part for me is getting to know people and see more of the country than I have ever been able to. It's such a privilege to be able to move around the entire country. Before this band, I have never traveled the U.S. as extensively, so I think it's really neat to see that and spend as much time as we can, even though its limited, getting to know other cities and organize when we have. Just meeting people and making connections is just great for me. I would say one of the hardest parts is getting breathing time and personal space, and not just melting into the van. This time I have a jogging regimen. I'm not at all athletic, but I'm going to fade away if I don't.

WCT: What's the first thing you scope out in a new city?

TF: We definitely try to find vegan food.

WCT: It can be hard, depending on where you are!

TF: Yeah, but we're flexible. It can be vegetarian or whatever. We're big food people, so that's exciting.

Check out The Shondes live Wed., Sept. 10, at the Bottom Lounge, 1375 W. Lake. The show starts at 8 p.m., and is for those 21 and older. The debut album, The Red Sea, is available now.

This article shared 3680 times since Wed Sep 10, 2008
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