PWR BTTM: “It’s easy to feel like you’re not enough.”

PWR BTTM’s debut album is a celebration of queerness, identity and growing up, and it’s finally being unleashed upon the UK.
New York-based duo PWR BTTM – drummer Liv Bruce and guitarist Ben Hopkins – are riding high on the success of debut ‘Ugly Cherries’, which was officially released in 2015, but is only just getting its UK outing. It’s an album about life, be it everyday musings or more prominently, love and identity – things we all experience.

The band are part of a generation where queer communities have never been so prominent; they “don’t try and speak for anyone else’s problems but our own,” Ben explains. “[But] PWR BTTM has always been a really queer project, the name itself is one that couldn’t be mistaken for anything else, and that was a very deliberate choice.

“As a teenager, I was aware of a lot of queer artists who were semi-out, and a lot of queer artists who were out, but refused to let their work be described as that. I understand their reasoning, but it just felt like – all the straight people got this music that was so unabashedly straight, and then I was stuck with this half-gay thing in music, because they didn’t want to get pigeon-holed.”

[sc name=”pull” text=”I collect bands like Pokémon cards. I just like every band.”]

It’s something they’re attracted to in other acts, too. “I’ve really got back into The Mars Volta,” says Liv, “they were my favourite band ages 12 to 15, and the thing I connected to last night about them was how campy they are. [Also] I think that when I look back, I used to and still do, love Muse. Muse is so campy.”

While Ben continues: “I really like every indie band from 2005 to 2011, any band. The Shins were my favourite band around the time that Liv really liked The Mars Volta, which is funny. I just love great pop songs. I collect bands like Pokémon cards. I feel like I just like every band.”

Their focus may be on battling cis-heteronormative ideals, but PWR BTTM also reference disharmony within the community itself. “One type of discrimination that happens is when gay men are dismissive of other gay men who are more feminine than them,” Liv explains. “And there’s this like, prizing of masculinity.

“I felt like that was something I was channelling when I sing, ‘I want a boy who doesn’t like to go out shopping’ – and I love to go out shopping. I mean, I didn’t then because I hated myself, and now I hate myself slightly less because I go shopping all the time. But I think there’s plenty of other discrimination that happens within the queer community.”

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