Shining a light on the joys and heartaches that lie at the intersection of the LGBTQIA community and the world of alternative music…
It’s generally considered acceptable to party, to sing and dance surrounded by friends and strangers—who are really just “pre-friends” anyway. It’s also deemed normal to have down days, to stay home binge eating or binge watching—or both—all by yourself. Granddad break down the boundary between these polar states, inspiring their audience to master the art of ugly-crying while fist-pumping, to literalize the idea of a “pity party,” and to remember that even when you’re alone, you’re never really alone.
On the band’s most recent EP, no one gets it right, their joyfully sad emo stylings echo both the bustling, queer-friendly energy of their current home of Minneapolis and the cold, quiet isolation of the town that birthed them, Fairbanks, Alaska. Vocalist and guitarist Kellen Baker’s lyrics are at once cuttingly earnest and warmly reassuring, reminding listeners that we are all singular multiplicities—and that’s exactly how it should be.
Starting March 8, Granddad will take to the road for a two-week run through the Midwest, including a two-day stop in Austin for SXSW. Stock up on tissues, spit-shine your dancing shoes, and look below for a full list of dates and venues.
When I was a kid and feeling really overwhelmed, I would bike to the top of Gold Hill, where I knew I wouldn’t find anybody else. The edge of the wilderness was a few blocks from my house, and I could wander off after the trail ended at the top of the hill and sit on the edge of the hillside, taking in the whole town: six avenues, a dozen or so churches, and just as many bars. This was my whole world, and I didn’t really have a good grasp on what lay outside it. My stifled emotions yearned to break free from a young age. I suppose I am still yearning to break free, gathering a sense of self piece by piece throughout the world as I make my way to all the places I am so lucky to go.
When you grow up gay, you know you’re different really early. When you grow up isolated, with no role models to show what this difference will mean for you, it becomes something to hide. So, you grow up in a cocoon of false identity that you can only begin to unspin upon coming out—and mine was suffocatingly tight.
I got a guitar at age 15 and started to write my own music shortly after. I found this was an effective way to process my intense emotions: yearning, hatred, self-harm. I could accept these feelings through layers and layers of metaphor. I could sing about love as long as I didn’t use any pronouns. I could get lost in sound for hours at a time and have a break from my own self-rejection. I could scream my fury at the world. It was an important crutch in dealing with my undiagnosed depression. I could hear my emotions reflected in dissonance, my fingers painting the words I couldn’t speak. Music became a source of identity. An outlet. As my peers began to explore relationships and sex in high school, the guitar was my substitute for lovemaking. I spent so many weekends alone in my room, the quiet strum of an unplugged electric guitar keeping me company.
I didn’t expect music to do much more for me than that. How could I when the only musicians I saw were the Top 40 stars on TV? My insular community didn’t have a place in it for musicians or artists. And, as I grew, there was an added pressure to represent my family in the community. In Alaska Native communities, family is supremely important. The traditional introduction is to announce your name, your mother and father, and both sets of grandparents. This tells the listener where you are from and where your family is from. I often feel like I carry the weight of my family history with me and will never feel truly independent from them. As an adult, this is a wonderful gift. As a teenager, it was terribly suffocating. How could I ever come out? How could I live with disappointing my family? What would people think of me—think of us?
Ten years ago, I would never have imagined the life I live now. I am out and proud. I make music every day of my life. I live in a big city, and I travel all over the country. If I had ever followed through with the suicidal thoughts I had as a kid, I would never have known anything beyond the small town I grew up in. Being closeted was one of the biggest roadblocks I had in my life—I’m sure many of you can relate. My story isn’t unique, but I feel compelled to tell it. I believe it’s so important for queer people to be out, to be visible, to be making things happen for themselves, and to prove that our lives are beautiful and worth living. I know that was something I needed to see as a kid. And no matter how small my impact is, if I can give an isolated queer kid a glimmer of hope, it counts as success.
People need to see us, to know that we live in every pocket of the world. We are born from the same earth.
We are queer, and we are everywhere.
03/08 – Minneapolis, MN – Paper Haus
03/09 – Ames, IA – Pine House
03/10 – Omaha, NE – 1337
03/11 – St Louis, MO – Dugan House
03/13 – Fort Worth, TX – Boiled Owl
03/14 – Austin, TX – SXSW
03/15 – Austin, TX – SXSW
03/19 – Wichita, KS – Donut Hole
03/20 – Denver, CO – Seventh Circle