Featuring Kori Gregory of wore | By Kelley O’Death
Shining a light on the joys and heartaches that lie at the intersection of the LGBTQIA community and the world of alternative music…
East Coast band wore originally took form as a straight-ahead pop punk outfit called Novelty—but the novelty soon wore off. Now, the ‘90s alternative-influenced trio of bassist Kori Gregory, vocalist and guitarist Joshua Roy, and drummer Ryan Obier are confidently asserting a new vision. Their debut, a limited-edition two-song cassette entitled Different Houses, was mixed and mastered by Mat Kerekes of Citizen and released via Darth Fader Records back in May. The bare-bones music video that accompanies its emotionally-charged single, “Bleached,” perfectly accents wore’s raw, earnest, slightly gauzy sonic aesthetic.
Ready to showcase the next step in their musical evolution, wore are poised to release a new single in the early fall: something a little tougher, a little gloomier, that will linger and shiver in the dark chambers of your mind long after the pensive instrumentation and gut-wrenching vocals have ceased and all that’s left is silence.
I’ve been seeing a lot of support toward women and the LGBTQ+ community in the Connecticut and Massachusetts local scenes lately, which is really refreshing. I feel like people used to be so adamant about music scenes being “for the boys,” but it’s been taking a positive turn over the last year or so.
Facebook is littered with posts and threads calling out those who don’t know how to show respect to their peers who may be “different” in their eyes. This week alone, I’ve seen at least three different instances where screenshots were posted and shared informing bands, booking agents, and showgoers not to book or support a certain band, artist, or member of the scene. Reading through the comments can get a little dirty, but for the most part, everyone comes together to express their support for the victims. There’s always two sides to every story, so it’s important to tread carefully when dealing with these situations before blacklisting someone from your area. However, it’s also very important to make sure that the scene is inclusive and comfortable for everyone involved.
The benefits of having an inclusive music scene are endless. One that I find really important is the overall feeling of “home” and acceptance. Many of my trans friends have told me in the past that they’ve never really felt safe or at home anywhere until they started going to shows. One venue about 20 minutes from where I grew up became “home” for many; you could show up any night of the week and, even if there weren’t any bands that you knew, there were always friends there. For LGBTQ+ youth, that’s incredibly important. It’s not often that you can find a safe space that will allow each and every person to be 100 percent themself and free from judgement, so having that place is crucial.
I’m hoping that with all the support that people have been giving to each other, the local scenes across the country will start to become more inclusive to women, LGBTQ+ folks, and POC, because if we come together, we will flourish together! Do your part to keep your scene alive and inclusive! Unsure on how to do so? Ask! Educate yourself on what you don’t understand.
Get in the habit of using “they/them” as a pronoun for people who you don’t know. Singular “they” is more commonly used in the English language than most people would think. Personally, I won’t freak out if I mistakenly get misgendered, but there are some people who seek the validation of “passing,” and for them, it’s necessary to be addressed by the proper pronouns. Everyone is different, so if you’re unsure, please just ask the person! Most people will be much happier getting asked and referred to correctly, rather than being misgendered.
I’m so very thankful to be a part of this scene that I’m in, because when I made it public that I was transgender, all my friends made the switch from “she” to “he” very quickly and seamlessly. I was nervous at first that I was never going to be seen as one of the guys, but thinking back to before I came out, I was already seen that way. It’s really heartwarming to know that with all the negativity in this world, there are so many people out there who are willing and ready to learn and grow together. Love and respect goes a long way, so show it!
On Following Your Dreams:
It really gets to me when parents don’t let their kids follow their dreams. I’ve heard so many friends talk about how they always dreamed about being a musician, an artist, or a photographer, but their parents wouldn’t “let” them. I absolutely hate that. I’ve always known, since I was little, that I loved music. My mom has videos of me singing and dancing from when I was, like, 5 years old; any time music was on, I was moving to it. It didn’t matter what it was, I would always find the rhythm to it.
When I was around 8 or 9, my aunt bought me my first guitar. I knew nothing about playing it or even tuning it, but I was psyched. I’d strum that thing for hours, and I even remember attempting to write songs in my room. Instead of putting me down or trying to convince me to become a lawyer or a doctor, my parents just went with it. That’s the kind of parenting we need more of. They cared more about my happiness and saw that as a success rather than the number of commas in my bank account.
Now, fast forward to sixth grade, when I took a general music class and learned different instruments for two weeks at a time. This is when I really knew I wanted to do something with music. My teacher, Mr. Chris Kalafus, was the greatest teacher I could have ever asked for. I was a little more advanced than the rest of the class—always finishing assignments before the other students, asking for more assignments, always asking what I could do to improve—and because of that, he’d challenge me. He’d give me harder songs to learn, ask me to try to learn songs on my own, and even convinced me to join the school’s after-school jam band. He motivated me to do the best I could, and I honestly won’t ever be able to thank him enough for that. At parent-teacher conferences, he’d always talk about how much he loved having me as a student, and I think that’s when my mom started to realize this is what I was meant to do.
I started to fall in and out of practice as the years went on, and as college years approached, I was faced with “the backup plan” talk. I stood my ground and refused to go, because—let’s be real—college isn’t for everyone and it’s definitely not for me. My parents never told me not to be a musician, but they always wanted me to go to college. They suggested I go as a music major or for music management or something, but I refused. I believe that if you spend too much time focusing on your “backup plan,” eventually, it’s going to take over and be your main focus.
I’m not living the “rockstar life,” making a bunch of money, selling a million records, or playing sold-out stadiums, but I am having fun and I’m happy. Honestly, there’s nothing more important than that in my eyes.
I’ve shared the stage with some incredible bands, and I have nothing to thank for that other than hard work from both myself and my friends. I’ve been able to play shows with A Will Away, Pentimento, Firestarter, A Loss For Words, and—one of my favorite bands—Like Pacific. Getting to play with such great bands, who have proven that hard work really pays off, is incredibly inspiring for me. I’ll never forget the moment when I looked out into the crowd and saw these guys, these professional musicians, watching my band.
Although I’m not half as good as I want to be, I know I’m a lot better than I used to be, and noticing that progression is really motivating.