Every May long weekend for the last 8 years, downtown Montreal becomes a sea of studded denim vests, beards and black band t shirts. Punk rock bands and punk rock fans from around the world converge at Pouzzafest. This year’s line-up which includes over 175 bands and headliners such as Against Me, Planet Smashers, Strung Out and Andrew WK is their most impressive edition to date. This particular music festival has also become known as the premiere feminist, inclusive punk music festival to play. Pouzzafest’s packed 3-day program boasts a “Women in the Scene” panel discussion, an anti-harassment seminar, a baseball tournament as well as Pouzza Bambino (music and activities geared towards kids and families). Pouzzafest has been a total labor of love for it’s creators Hugo Mudie and Helene Mckoy and now in it’s ninth year the festival put on by punks, for punks has really carved out it’s own niche and has become a favourite destination for music lovers to kick off summer festival season.
Puff Digital had a chance to catch up with some of the acts performing at Pouzzafest 9 and ask them questions about music, munchies, feminism, inclusivity and of course, weed.
7 Questions with Puff Digital
- What is your first ever music memory?
- What band, artist or music moment kick-started your love of punk rock?
3. Pick one: poutine, pizza or pouzza (poutine pizza)?
- Pouzzafest is a feminist/inclusive music festival devoted to making sure women are well represented among the bands they book to play and has a zero tolerance policy on harassment. What has been your experience with misogyny in the music scene? How have you been an ally as a result and/or how do you think you could you be a better ally in the future?
5. What has been your experience with homophobia/ queerphobia / transphobia in the music scene? What do you think can be done to increase inclusivity and acceptance?
- Who are you looking forward to seeing play at Pouzzafest?
7. If any, what has been your experience with weed, edibles and/or CBDLost Love and Pouzzafest Organizer (Guilhem)
- Listening to Bob Dylan, Renaud and Deep Purple in my parents’ car when I was a kid.
2.My older sister who made me listen to a lot of punk-rock when I was 7 or 8 years old is probably what triggered the whole punk-rock gene in me.
4. Since I’m a man, the first part of this question is kinda hard to answer. I haven’t experienced or seen from my eyes a lot of misogyny because I try to surround myself with people who are not pieces of shit. I think I’m being an ally by booking and promoting a lot of great and talented bands with diversity. It’s important to show to everyone that anyone can learn how to play guitar or drums or sing or play keyboard, and start a band. The “music industry” is pretty much just a big sausage party and I think there are more and more people who are getting tired of that, which is a great thing. With Pouzza, we want to be a part of this shift and for 2019, 50% of the bands on
our line-up has at least one member who does not identify as a man.
5. Like the previous question, I haven’t noticed a lot of that from my own eyes. I feel like there are a lot of punk rock “jock” but they do not come to the shows I usually play with my band and I do not go to the same shows as those people I guess. But it’s definitely there in the larger sense of the “punk” scene”. Which is weird when you think about it because the whole punk movement started as a collective of outcasts who didn’t fit inside society’s norms. It seems weird to me to want to make punk an “exclusive” club. As for what can be done, it would be great if people could stop making petty/mean jokes on trans/queer/gay people. I don’t want people to stop laughing, but I want people to stop laughing at other people in a mean and hurtful way.
6. Too many bands, too many friends. Answering Machine and Heartless Folk and Ogikubo Station and The Penske File.
7. Weed is tight. Edibles are fun.
As for CBD, I wish I had more to say about it because it really seems like something I would do more often.
BAD COP BAD COP (Jennie)
- Wanting to be Tina Turner when I was 4 and my mom laughing in my face about it.
- I saw an interview with L7 in some teen magazine and cut the whoooole thing out and put it on my bedroom wall. I was maybe 12 years old and was just starting to play guitar. Before that all I could get was alternative music–which was cool but not quite it for me. This was around the same time one of my friends found a $3 Fat Wreck compilation at the record store and we all studied that very closely.
- Oooo POUTINE!! It’s very exotic for us in the states.
- Becoming a better ally is a constantly evolving conversation, we are always trying to learn and grow and adapt to respond. Misogyny in the music scene…that’s a can of worms. We continue to struggle with this in a lot of ways. We try to play with inclusive bands and people who share our goals of representation. We try to correct and address misogyny whenever we get the chance–often times it’s in people’s language and it’s so deep they don’t even see it. Other times it’s overt and shocking and astounding like in instances of abuse and assault. We can start by establishing that our shows are safe spaces, open to all who want to respect each other. Not working with problematic venues, promoters, etc. (I also want to say that we don’t know EVERYTHING especially in places far from home, but we are listening). Listening to people and their experiences, believing them, keeping an eye out, using inclusive language and establishing that just because certain communities have been silenced for hundreds of years does not mean they are not strong, vibrant, powerful and worthy of a platform.
- I’m always surprised when we encounter any of this because it’s so clearly none of anyone’s business how a person identifies or loves. I’m lucky to work and live with people who understand how ridiculous those phobias are. When we travel to less metropolitan places it becomes clear that the conversation is just starting and there’s a lot of work to do in so many areas. I think increased visibility for LGBTQ persons is crucial, elevating their voices and messages and experiences (without just speaking for them). Touring and working with bands who are supportive and inclusive is one thing we can do, along with literally singing and talking about it. It’s tough because everyone in our band really cares about this community and the people struggling for pretty basic human rights and legal acknowledgement. I like to believe that our shows are safe spaces for people and that we as a band do not tolerate any of these phobias. We want people to come out and meet each other and become friends and make the connections: there are no real borders between communities or “other people’s problems”. We would LOVE to learn what people are coming up with as far as solutions to dismantling homo/trans/queerphobia!! We’re super into suggestions and working together to make this problem totally extinct.
6. Choked Up!! I got to see Cristy on the Sister Spit tour and she was SO EMPOWERING. And of course none of us can believe the lineup for our show. That was such an awesome surprise! We all love Worriers and Lost Love are pals, I have to assume Expert Timing is fantastic and Against Me! is literally my favorite punk band.
- This is a potentially very long answer…Marijuana in it’s plant form is a gift from nature. Glad to see the stigma loosening up a bit. It’s weird to criminalize plants, ya know?
Big D and the Kids’ Table (David)
- I was at a Motley Crue show and a girl was walking by in full zebra spandex smoking a cigarette and I said to my 13 year-old self: “Now THAT’S a woman“.
- New England winters can be cruel and nobody likes getting up early for high school, with that said: I was about 16 or 17 years old when I found myself down and out getting into my car after shoveling it out of the snow and scrapping the ice of its windows. When I started the car, I popped in a cassette that had a poor copy of Operation Ivy’s Energy LP which I had dubbed. The music made my mood change from down and out to 100% positive. I remember taking a moment before pulling out to say to myself, ‘when I grow up I’m going to try and make music that makes people’s mood change like a light switch‘. I just appreciated so much what that cassette could do for me that I knew I had to try to do the same for others.
3. Pouzza. Why don’t they sell it there?
4. There was this one tour we did through the U.K. where my crotch was grabbed 5 days in a row by different females in the front, then there was a show it didn’t happen and then one more time for 6 times in 7 days. It really made me feel sad; the girls would just laugh together as I attempted to tell them that that was wrong. I blamed it on the pants and started using them as paint-pants. Then there was a time a boy did it to me and I stomped his head and punched him a few times. He later became the bass player to Larry & His Flask. We have both apologized since. And finally, I get bummed when I can’t turn my back to the front row and face the drums without having a young lady slap my butt. Worse than the invading act itself, it takes a while, if not never, to snap out of it, thus making me less focused for the rest of the show. And I feel bad when people who come see us play don’t get 110% from me. For the future…I’m not sure what to say; a lot of it has to do with nurture & practical empathy.
5. Where I live and whom I surround myself with, I don’t see much hate towards the gay/queer/trans community. When my circle of friends heard about the introduction of Laura Jane Grace, we all just kinda said ‘Oh okay, got it’ and felt it was brave. Three friends who have work on our videos/albums have discovered they recognize themselves as a different sex and we were all very happy for them. For the two I keep up with, they seem much happier. I did see someone try and hit Jeffree Star at a Warped Tour BBQ once. Everyone stopped him rather quickly. He was yelling, “I just don’t understand.” Jeffree was okay.
- Andrew W. K. & The Planet Smashers.
7. ‘CBD’ (Cats Before Dogs), well I just think you should start with a cat; dogs are a lot more work. You should first see how you do with a cat. ‘Weed’- at first I had a hard time getting rid of them, but my Dad just said ‘keep at it’ and after a few seasons they aren’t really coming around like they used to. ‘Edibles’ – I’ve come to realize I like chocolate with almonds and of course movie theater popcorn.
DIRECT HIT (NICK WOODS)
- I was probably 3 years old, and I had wandered into my parents’ room where my dad was playing bass along to “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty. He put me on his lap, put the bass in front of me and showed me how it was played. Amazing how clear it is still, 30+ years later.
- Dookie. My cousin put it on in his basement when my brothers and I were over at his house fucking around when we were kids, and made us lean in to one of the speakers on the stereo when Bille Joe Armstrong said the word “shit” on “Longview.” I couldn’t believe you could swear on a record.
- Poutine for life.
- Pop punk has been pretty strongly misogynist a lot of the time, lyrically and socially – Songs about women as objects, or inferior in strength, and written often from a male’s point of view; women made the objects of gossip or sexual entertainment offstage. It took a long time for me to truly recognize how women are typically treated unfairly, and it took a lot of strong people in my life to force me to really recognize the scope of the problem. My sister and my wife have been the biggest influences there. I try hard now to be an ally by listening to women as much as I can, and talking as little as I can. The latter is tough for me, but I’m doing my best to be conscious of when I’m not taking someone seriously, or encouraging or validating an unfair or offensive opinion with a joke or comment. I post less on the internet these days because I don’t want to take up people’s bandwidth with another straight white guy’s thoughts when others have been suppressed for so long. When I have resources to share, I try to think of marginalized people first.
- I feel as if much of the same persecution experienced by women has been put upon queer and gay people – anxiety, fear, belittlement, violence. Everyone, but especially cis men like myself, need to take those issues seriously, recognize their own role in the problem, and try to treat everyone as if they’d want to be treated.
- I’m gonna watch The Planet Smashers. Devon made me listen to them in the van the other day for the first time, and even though it’s ska – a genre I poke fun of a lot – I was really impressed with the riffs.
- In the last few years, I’ve been feeling increasingly paranoid whenever pot’s in my system so I don’t partake very often anymore, and when I do it’s usually right before I go to sleep. CBD‘s very calming for me, but it doesn’t make me productive so I usually skip that too.
- Jesse: My dad listening to Mötley Crüe’s “Wild side” full blast while washing his car and giggling when the song says “kicking ass on the wild side”.
- Jordan: The first minutes of hearing ‘Riot’ by Dead Kennedys. I was sneaking headphones under my hoodie during science class in school, a friend had passed off the cd to me between classes and I totally fell in love. It was like nothing I had ever heard before. And the same feeling all over again when I was 13 and got into my first mosh pit at GBH and Circle Jerks at the 930 Club in DC
- Justin: I REALLY enjoy mushroom pizza. However, if you can find me a mushroom poutine I’d be willing to rethink my decision
- Jordan: We have a zero tolerance policy on harassment with all members of our band and with all people at our shows. We are a family and when you come to our show you are a part of that family. We all look out for each other. Yes, I have experienced misogyny and harassment in the music scene and yes it is infuriating, but there is so much more love and respect throughout that we address the situations if they arise and keep moving forward. No one should feel like they don’t belong at a show or on a stage if that’s where they want to be.
- Aaron: I think we are very fortunate in the scene that we have come from at home, and been a part of nationally and internationally to have not experienced very many truly awful people. And when we have, we take the same “zero tolerance” policy and will gladly do our best to shut that shit down and provide a safe space for anybody who needs one.
- Against Me! If Reinventing Axl Rose didn’t exist this band probably wouldn’t either. We used to sing old Against Me! songs around campfires when we were kids and its something that brought us all together.
- Rob: Justin & I had a crazy edible experience once. They went to a dispensary in Denver and the supervisor recommended some strong cookies. We had a few hours before our show and we went to a local park. We both ate an entire cookie and were tripping off pot. I was worried about walking around the pond with only sandals on and thought everyone was super pissed at me. Justin took about an hour or more to change his banjo strings. The brownie’s effects were so strong that we were high all the way up to the time we needed to play. Luckily the sound man called out that day and we ended up playing on the floor unplugged so one was able to tell how baked we were.
War On Women ( Shawna Potter)
- Dancing in a play pen to Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”
- Bikini Kill. The rejection of “dude rock,” speaking their truth, and their DIY attitude helped shaped who I am today.
- Please tell me there will be a vegan version of pouzza at Pouzza Fest!
- As a woman I have had plenty of experience with misogyny. Using my background in music and activism, I have written a book (out in May from AK Press) called “Making Spaces Safer: A Guide to Giving Harassment the Boot Wherever You Work, Play, and Gather.” I hope that by sharing my knowledge with others on how you can make scenes more inclusive and welcoming for all, I am honoring those that took the time to educate me and helping to create more allies to women, LGBTQ folks, people of color, people with disabilities, and people of varying shapes, sizes, and faiths.
- Silence begets silence. I feel any issue or cause benefits from being out in the open and talking about it. So for example, that means giving a shout out to trans and gender-non-conforming folks from stage to make sure the entire audience knows we are trans-allies. But it also means having conversations with venue staff on how trans-inclusive their space is. It means teaching people how to use basic bystander intervention at their favorite clubs. It means offering your pronouns first so others in the group know it’s safe to offer theirs.
- Worriers! I’ve never seen them before so I’m stoked to meet them.
- Wait, is this off the record? Are you a narc? Shit, I gotta go.
- Black Flag at some church basement in Toronto. I could only stay for 4 songs cause I didn’t want to miss curfew. 1983 I think.
- Madness. My brother took my ELO record, put a fire-cracker in the vinyl hole, lit it, and then tossed it like a frisbee. It exploded in air. I cried a little bit but not that much. He then said that I “should” listen to his two-tone albums, starting with “One Step Beyond”. And then he put on Sex Pistols’ “Bodies” but I had to use headphones cause he didn’t want my parents to hear the lyrics. I couldn’t believe it. That was a great day.
- All are great options but you can O.D. on poutine and pouzza gets real dirty. So…pouzza for the win!
- It’s super important to me that every individual feels unequivocal acceptance within all aspects of the music industry. I wasn’t aware of how whack it was 20 years ago, it seemed totally normally to go on the Warped tour with 400 men and 5 women every summer. Thankfully times are a changing.
- Honestly, I’ve had the “luxury” of not having to directly experience this – which should be the standard. We need more awareness within the various scenes, from promoters to publicist to media to festival buyers to the bands on stage with a microphone in front of them. Get people to talk about it, think about it, acknowledge the need for change, etc. Eventually we’ll get to a point where “this” becomes the new norm. And then people can start making fun about the olden days when we were “backwards”.
- There’s so many good bands playing!!! If I can catch Prettyboy, War on Women, Samiam, Boids, Anti Queens, Kill Lincoln, Iron Reagan, Big D, Andrew W.K. and Subb I’ll be satisfied. BUT to be super ultra happy I’ll need multiple me’s.
- I’ve never inhaled. Only held the joint between my lips and slowly let it burn. Baaaaa ha hahahaaaaa. I can’t buy any CBD cause it’s always sold out!
- When I was a little meow boy around the age of 12/13 I went to see pantera sepultra and biohazard at maple leaf gardens. I smoked and oil joint with the people next to me. They thought it was funny to get a pre pubescent boy stoned ,they were right. I jumped over the the barrer and ran into the sea of skids becoming far beyond driven
- Dead Kennedys
- Poutine but the other three members would prefer pizza