Featuring Kristine of Het Ward | By Kelley O’Death
FQP shines a light on the joys and heartaches that lie at the intersection of the LGBTQIA community and the world of alternative music. While queer representation is often refracted through the prism of normative curiosities and concerns, FQP features queer voices saying whatever they want, however they want. Don’t fear the realness.
Pittsburgh’s Het Ward aren’t afraid to get right in your fucking face. Featuring vocalist Kristine, drummer Rye, guitarist Justin, and bassist Kallen, the band share members with Silence, Athame, SpiritBox, Mercury Uncovered, and Medium Ugly. On their self-released self-titled EP—out now digitally via Bandcamp and available on cassette via Get Better Records in late spring—they blast through five furious hardcore tracks that sound as though they’re seeping up through the floorboards from a particularly rowdy basement show.
From their no-shit-taken assertion of “Fuck your complicity / Fuck your greed / Fuck your transmisogyny” on the EP’s opener, “T.G.F.F.S.,” to their battle cry of “We’re the callous kids you drove into a corner / We’re your demise drawn, no quarter” on closer, “SINKING,” Het Ward lend a righteously enraged voice to queer and trans individuals everywhere who are sick of tone-policing and respectability politics. Het Ward is both revolutionary rallying call and mollifying musical catharsis—violence in, violence out.
On The Scene:
I started going to hardcore and punk shows around Syracuse, [New York], in 2001. I was only 14 at the time. Throughout the years, I’ve seen a lot of really powerful things happen that moved me and changed me in a very big way at a very urgent time in my life. In contrast to this, there were a lot of really awful things I grew up around that simply should have never happened, nor should they ever happen—violent assaults, extremely transphobic and homophobic language and behavior, and a lot of misogyny that went unchecked. These elements still unfortunately exist and find their way into shows and spaces.
I personally believe, as a whole, DIY punk has gotten much better at addressing these issues. I feel much safer at shows now. Ten years ago, the thought of being out to people was simply out of the question. I live in Pittsburgh now. People here are, for the most part, really friendly and accepting. There is a much larger queer presence at shows here than there was growing up in N.Y. too, so I made a lot of wonderful friends—my awesome bandmates—as a result. I have dealt with some unpleasant experiences from time to time living here, but I have real support for the first time too as a mentally ill trans woman.
I would like to see Pittsburg continue to move in a direction that is more comfortable and led by marginalized voices—more trans, queer, POC artists, as well as their needs being centered and met. Things feel like they are heading more in that direction. I hope that continues.
As you begin to express yourself more openly, as you come to better understand your experiences and who you are, you will also begin to recognize—if you haven’t already—the many ways in which people have and continue to mistreat people like us. You will discover that some of those people are also people you’ve been calling your friends. You will lose some of these people. It will hurt. A lot. Trust me, it is for the better to be rid of people who cannot respect you or your needs. Seek out other people who are much like yourself. It’s important to have support, but also important to have support from people who can empathize and have been or are going through similar circumstances.
There are so many people who have helped me make sense of my life, who I am, and what is important for my survival. A lot of the most influential people in shaping who I am are also people I am fortunate enough to call friends.
One person who comes to mind is my friend Jade from CLAW [and] Anti-Androgen. I have followed her music ever since the days of Passengers being a band. That band helped me through a lot of confusing turns I was having to make in life. I’m fortunate to call her a friend of mine. I don’t get to see her as often as I’d like to, as we have always lived in different states. When I do see her, it’s like we hang out every day. I never feel a need to hold back. I can tell her anything. She’s wonderful. Also, CLAW and Anti-Androgen are such good bands.
I’d also like to give a shout out to my friend Nai. They are a friend of mine from Pittsburgh. They’ve been to almost every show we’ve played in the city. More importantly, though, they’ve been there for me countless times, have lifted me when I was falling apart, and have knocked me down a peg when I wasn’t acting my best. They are so brilliant and so awesome—not to mention really funny.
On Secret Passions:
I have kept my responses relatively serious, [but] I really like talking about weed. [Laughs] I love it. I love everything about it: how it smells, tastes, the ways it helps me cope with my PTSD and trauma. I nerd out on all the strains and also get really into talking about smoking weed. I feel like I can’t do it most of the time without sounding like I’ve been to every Kottonmouth Kings concert since 1998. I love weed nevertheless. Please! If you’re a fan of Het Ward and like weed too, smoke my gay silly ass up on tour and nerd out with me about weed!