Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Guts of The Ice - An Exploration of "Puck" Rock/Hockey-core #3: Pansy Division's Co-founder & Guitarist Jon Ginoli (The Witzard Interview)

Pansy Division 1997 Line-up (SOURCE: Luis Illades)

Not entirely unlike Wrestle/Wrassle Rap or Basketball Rap, there's, apparently, a whole sub-genre of hockey-themed Punk/Hardcore—oftentimes, referred to as "Puck" Rock or Hockey-core. Yes, I've been a die-hard fan of Punk/Hardcore for 15+ years and I, too, only first heard about Puck Rock within the last few weeks. Although, once I started diggin' around, I discovered about 10-15 bands at the forefront; this was, then, gradually narrowed down to 10 "front-line" bands, which will be chronicled here over the course of coming weeks. The "top-scoring" bands we selected include: Crippled Youth, SLAPSHOT, The Hanson Brothers/Nomeansno, Two Man Advantage, The Boils, D.O.A. THE ZAMBONIS, Pansy Division, The Hextalls, and The Ramoms' "Gritty Is A Punk" flexi-disc. We sent out a short 6-question interview form to all of the aforementioned bands, received some back, heard a few choice words, and still have yet to hear from a few more. We'll be running those interviews, as well as features, profiles, etc. in the coming weeks. EDITOR'S NOTE: be warned, while I'm a casual hockey fan, I DO NOT claim to be an "expert" on the sport, nor will I EVER claim to know "everything" about hockey-themed Punk/Hardcore. Now, let's just try to have some fun and learn more about the sub-genre together!

For this week's installment of Guts of The Ice, we spoke with Pansy Division co-founder and guitarist Jon Ginoli. Pansy Division has been active since 1991 and are often recognized as one of the pioneers of Queercore, as well as being the first openly gay Rock band featuring predominantly gay musicians. Pansy Division's current line-up consist of vocalist/guitarist Jon Ginoli, bassist/vocalist Chris Freeman, lead guitarist/vocalist Joel Reader (ex-The Mr. T Experience,) and drummer Luis Illades. From 1993-98, Pansy Division released six consecutive albums on world-renown Punk/Alt. Rock imprint Lookout! Records. Their seventh and most recent full-length, Quite Contrary, was released on former Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra's label, Alternative Tentacles, in 2016. Over the course of the past 29 years, Pansy Division have shared the stage with the likes of blink-182, Built to Spill, The Donnas, Foo Fighters, Green Day, Jawbreaker, Jimmy Eat World, The Mr. T Experience, Pennywise, Rancid, Weeen, and countless others. According to @pansydivisionofficial, they "opened 38 shows for [Green Day] in 1994-95, going from 400-seat clubs at the start to arenas holding more than 10,000 people by the end." Within our interview, Jon Ginoli and I primarily spoke about "Hockey Hair," which first appeared on their 1997 7-inch, MANADA, and was later, hand-selected by Nomeansno/The Hanson Brothers' own John Wright for Sudden Death Records infamous Hockey Punk comp. Johnny Hanson Presents... Puck Rock, Vol. 2. This year, Pansy Division are inching towards playing their 1,000th show!

Sincerely,

Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Puck Rock/Hardcore Purveyor




01. How did you first get into both hockey and Punk/Hardcore music?

Jon Ginoli: Well, I can't say any of us are really into hockey. But we spent a fair amount of time touring in Canada in the 90's, where we encountered many fans who were, also, into hockey, who spoke of their love for the game. That got us thinking about it.

02. What made you decide to combine hockey and Punk/Hardcore stylings through music?

Ginoli: Being in Canada gave us the idea. Being friends with the band Chixdiggit! helped; see their song "I Feel Like Gerry Cheevers (Stitch Marks On My Heart)" from their great debut album [Chixdiggit!] (the one that was on Sub Pop.)


03. For fans new to the "Puck" Rock/Hardcore sub-genre, which release(s) from throughout your discography would you recommend starting out with?

Ginoli: Our one hockey-themed song is "Hockey Hair." It was a single first, then, on our album, More Lovin' from Our Oven from '97. It's on a singles comp. we put out last year called Pansy Division: Singles & Such. That song is more Indie-sounding than Punk (we straddle both sides of that line.) But it did get us on the compilation, Johnny Hanson Presents... Puck Rock, Vol. 2 in 1997 or '98.

04. How did "Hockey Hair" end up being featured on Johnny Hanson Presents... Puck Rock, Vol. 2, as curated by The Hanson Brothers/Nomeansno's own John "Johnny Hanson" Wright?

Ginoli: Our booking agent at the time, also, booked Nomeansno. So, I'm sure they were aware of us. But I don't exactly recall the details about it. In the booklet for the CD, Johnny Hanson evaluated each band's hockey potential. For our "Strengths," he described us as "team players (who) can play all positions, good in the locker room, willing to take the man." He said our "Weaknesses" were "chasing players instead of the puck." Very astute assessments, then and now.


05. Aside from your own band's music, what other hockey-themed groups, releases, singles, etc. would you recommend, as well?

Ginoli: Chixdiggit! Hanson Brothers. Here's a poster from a show we played with The Hanson Brothers in San Diego in 2003, intentionally created to sow confusion (it sure did!)

06. If still active, what are the future plans for your band? If currently inactive, do you have any immediate plans for any special re-issues or a proper reunion/comeback?

Ginoli: We started in 1991 and have played 973 shows. Our goal is to get to 1,000; then, we can retire (without having won a Stanley Cup, but we have all of our teeth.)


Hanson Brothers/Pansy Division Flyer (SOURCE: Jon Ginoli)

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