Here at Underground we are keen to be advocates of the rebels and the renegades. Of the radicals and revolutionaries. As figureheads, tastemakers and the originals, we take a look at the best of underground sound, where we present the newest, greatest and most subversive acts from music right now.
QUEEN ZEE AND THE SASSTONES
Punk pariahs Queen Zee and the Sasstones are definitely forced to be reckoned with. Defined by their riotous sound that is unhinged in its fury, and with lyrics like ‘you fuck like a porno movie’, they are a band that relentlessly seek to surprise and shock in their subversion. They describe themselves as ‘a person, a band, and all the fans who make a lot of noise coming out of Merseyside right now’; keen to promote safe-spaces, mutual respect, a sense of collectivism and individuality, Queen Zee are part of a burgeoning music scene that is simmering and boiling over the edges in the North of England at the moment.
The best venue?: ‘’Drop the Dumbulls is the punk rock capital of the world. If you haven’t played at Dumbulls, you’re not a real band’.
And their pick of bands from the region include ‘Dawn Ray’d, Bodies on Everest, Horsebastard, Shaman Yew, Forest Swords, Bonnocans of Doom and the Cartier 4 Everyone DJ’s.’
Zee’s musical beginnings are rooted in those who were always a little different: having ‘spent a summer working [her] way through’ her dad’s old CDs, including ‘90s Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Hole, Rage Against the Machine, Mogwai etc’, ‘Nevermind’ was a pivotal album that really stood out to an individual who always felt an affinity to the alternative. Zee told us that she’s ‘never really fitted in with anything’ and that ‘[she] guesses that [she’s] just a goth star who loves a bit of Frank Ocean’. With an eccentric look and a kink for pink, we asked the front-person what their style inspiration is: ‘I don’t really do anything to keep up with trends or change. I loved horror films as a kid and started dressing like Elvira. I get told I dress the same as my mum did when she was my age, so maybe that’s it as well.’ The zany front-person also told us about what cameo she’d play in her own movie: ‘Sharknado 18: Sharks vs Scousers. Steven Gerard, Space and that guy who plays Jeff from Peep Show vs a tornado of sharks. I’d play “girl who gets eaten”. We’d definitely watch it.
Having recently just finished a whopping thirty-day date tour alongside the ‘positive loving vibes’ of the Marmozets, the band – with particular reference to the sell-out date at London’s Garage – say the tour was particularly special and a ‘huge honour’ to be a part of. When on stage, the band rips, tears, crushes and explodes with energy and intensity, saying that it’s an ‘adrenaline trance’ that produces their fervour. They told us one of the greatest moments from the tour was that they ‘saw a guy launch his crutch in the air at our last Preston show’; it seems nobody can resist the energy of their performances. In terms of their dream support acts, the band ‘ think [they’re] already pretty lucky with the great bands [they] share the stage with’, saying ‘I love Babe Punch from Nottingham, they’re bad ass’. However if they had the ultimate pick, they’d choose ‘Bodies on Everest’, claiming a gig with that line-up would be a ‘rough one’.
It’s not all fun and games being in a band and on-stage, as they admit that they heavily trip over on being their own worst critics: ‘we played awfully on the first night of tour […] we nearly killed each other in the van’. At least they waited until after the show. Zee admits that she’s not always confident when it comes to being on stage: ‘t’s not uncommon to find me pacing outside the venue or in the backstage. Anxiety is a very really part of my life and something I have learnt / am learning to cope with. But being onstage is itself the best medicine for it, and over the course of tours finding some sort of solace in the connection and energy of performing and playing music.’
The DIY band are also keen to assert that they are a DIY band by default, not using the loose term as a label or because it’s ‘trendy’: ‘well we’re all skint and we don’t really have any other option. […] we’re DIY cos we quit our shit jobs to be in a band and there is literally no other way to do it anymore. We don’t pursue the industry at all, we just do our own thing and let it take its course. I’m a firm believer that organic growth will always outlast hype’. More often than not, they self-manage, self-organise and self-release a lot of their projects: ‘we do all of it, in terms of our output, we write it, learn it, record it, produce it, do the artwork, do the social media, organise the distribution, plan the video, direct them etc etc. And that’s the case from the majority of bands at the moment, I love it. We get to create and turn our hands at things we wouldn’t normally get to.’ Queen Zee literally do it all themselves.
They also see the internet as a great tool for emerging musicians: ‘What is great is how the internet allows everyone to be into everything. As a teenager in the 00’s you always just had access to what your friends and their older brothers and sisters had, normally from the record store. Now, you can be the only kid in the town that has heard of particular American black metal band, but that’s fine because 1000 other people on Reddit have too.’
Queen Zee is ardent in wanting to re-contextualise the perception of gender, sexuality and politics: ‘I am saddened that in 2017 treating another human being with respect is even an issue’. They simply want their music to be music for music’s sake, rather than defined by their image or gender: ‘I never really asked to be part of it [the gender revolution], and being at the forefront of anything is something I struggled with internally massively. I just wanted to taken as seriously as a straight man. This band has become political just by my existence. That is how politicised my body is. That even just standing up and performing, and asking to be treated the same as everyone else is considered radical. I’m glad we’re talking about issues around the LGBTQ+ community more and more, and I don’t plan on shutting up until we are equal.’ When asked if they feel an obligation to make politicised music, the band responded: ‘on some level, no. Art is art, and should exist purely for its own sake. Bands don’t need to be political. But, that being said, good art is cathartic and the issues that boil your blood often are relevant political ones. ‘Porno’ isn’t so much dismantling pornography as it is ego and pornography’s role in inflating that. There is no room for an inflated in the ego in bedroom as far as I’m concerned.’
The lasting sentiment was their energy to keep on going. They want to ‘keep playing, keep writing, keep touring until at least 3 out of 5 of us are dead.’
The band have recently just released their newest single ‘IDLE CROWNS’, which can be listened to below.