Thirty-five years ago, punk rock elbowed its way into the world as a narrowly focused expression of teenage rage. Today, the genre has developed into a broad worldview — do it yourself, be true to yourself and damn the man — that accepts all kinds. Locally, that's best evidenced by Queen Beef, a St. Augustine four-piece that kicks out Ramones-inspired jams tinged with self-aware, sexually charged bravado. Lead singer Mikey O'Hara proudly wears his homosexuality on his sleeve, and the band — guitarist Ryan Palm, bassist Nick Commoditie and drummer Matty Pius — provide O'Hara with a hard-rocking (and heterosexual) foundation.
Folio Weekly chatted with Queen Beef about Hannah Montana and Lux Interior, re-releasing their self-titled debut album on California label Lolipop Records and the close-knit nature of the Oldest City music community.
Folio Weekly: How did Queen Beef come together?
Mikey O'Hara: Ryan, Matt and I were in a small, little local band that didn't really work out. And Nick was playing Ramones covers in Teenage Lobotomy but was interested in doing something original. We all got together last December and realized it was going to be an awesome band. And now we're kind of doing it.
Nick Commoditie: We're kicking some ass!
F.W.: Did any particular artists influence you?
M.O.: Seeing Hunx & His Punx from Oakland, which is also a gay punk band, really inspired me. Seth [Bogart], the lead singer, has such an awesome aura around him, and living in St. Augustine, I knew I was in the right place to start a band like that. Stage-presence-wise, to be honest, I also relate to Hannah Montana and Lux Interior from The Cramps.
Ryan Palm: We also share a similar spirit and style of playing shows with Florida bands like Wet Nurse, Golden Pelicans and Cretin Girls.
F.W.: Mikey, do you feel like your homosexuality represents the main thrust of Queen Beef?
M.O.: For me, being gay represents everything that I bring to this band. But with my bandmates all being heterosexual, it just goes to show that you can be the most flamboyant person on stage and still be respected by genuine people who may not agree with you sexually. Too many gay people today make a big deal out of being gay, so with Queen Beef, I want to show people that they should man up and not take shit from anyone because of their sexual preference.
F.W.: You released your self-titled album in March and will reissue it on Lolipop Records in October. How was it written and recorded?
N.C.: We started playing in December but didn't play our first show until March, so we wanted to have a tape at that show, which was with Peach Kelli Pop. So, right before that show, we spent five days recording and mixing it with Lenny Rutland, who's in local bands like Telepathic Lines and Solid Pony. I think I hand-dubbed, like, 40 tapes for that show. Wyatt Blair, who's in Peach Kelli Pop, also owns Lolipop Records, and he dug the tape and wanted to reissue it. So we're stoked.
F.W.: Are you already writing new songs?
M.O.: We are. And since we wrote our first album pretty quickly, we're taking a little more time and digging into the process more this time around. So far, we have three new songs: "Tranny Tranny Boom Boom," "At The Mall" and "Fag Reputation."
F.W.: Is that type of tongue-in-cheek subject matter going over well here in St. Augustine?
M.O.: I think so. We have such a close-knit music community here.
Matty Pius: I grew up in St. Augustine and have been doing nothing but playing music for years. As an older guy who remembers when all we had was a punk house off South U.S. 1, we're also very thankful to have a place like Nobby's that supports the punk-rock community. And people keep moving to town and starting bands, which is a beautiful thing.
R.P.: I moved here about four years ago out of the Central Florida hardcore scene which, when I left, was getting increasingly violent and angry. In St. Augustine, it's just so much more positive — everyone's happy to play music, happy to have fun and happy to help each other out. That supportive nature is really cool.