3 min

More than skin deep

Skinjobs talk tunes, touring and burning the rainbow at both ends

NOT YOUR AVERAGE QUEER GROUP. Vancouver's Skinjobs are a profoundly talented punk band and kick-ass political to boot. Credit: David Ellingsen

As much as it is forbidden to say so, in the gay community dichotomy runs deep. It is okay to be queer, but don’t be genderqueer. You can like music, but make sure it’s the kind of tune that you can dance to. And whatever you do, never, ever question the holy gay grail … the rainbow flag.

So challenge Vancouver’s own Skinjobs. With their mouths, amplifiers and brand new CD, Burn Your Rainbow, the group is on a mission to make you question your position.

Jump back to the year 2000; a gathering of individuals frustrated with the lack of alternative events in the queer community decide to create their own entertainment. Armed with camcorders, empty pockets and ingenuity, the Queer Punk Collective is born. Their first event, Perv Kamp 2000, gathered together like-minded alterna fags and dykes, and voilà!

Make yer own movement. Out of that genesis, three Vancouver musicians discovered a mutual love of melodic punk rock, gender-bending politics, and a communal sense of feeling simultaneously a part of-and yet separate from-their own queer community.

In the beginning, there was the Skinjobs, and it was good.

First and foremost, it is important to mention that this band is far more than ‘schtick’-musically, their songs are some of the strongest queer punk melodies on record. Fans of Team Dresch, The Butchies and Sleater Kinney take note, this is the shizzit. And for those of you unfamiliar, just know that the combination of sing-along melodies, crunchy guitar sounds and aggressive tempos make for some of the best road trip tunes out there. The Skinjob members all come with extensive musical histories: Kim Kinakin (co-lead singer/guitarist) spent years in legendary emo-core band Sparkmarker, Laura Schultz (drummer/co-vocalist) was a former frontwoman of all-girl hard rock trio Queazy, and bassist Mimi Mahovlich has been jamming around town for years.

How do their past efforts affect the present?

All three agree that this project is incredibly freeing. “I tell people that this is the most fun I’ve ever had in a band,” admits Kinakin. “Previous bands have always been very serious. This band does have its serious side, its integrity, but we also have a lot of fun, a lot of people dressing up and playing off of each other. Live, you never know what’s going to happen.”

Live is really the fastest way to ‘get’ the band and their mission statement. Incorporating genderqueer dancers, donning face paint and encouraging spoken word from the crowd, their live show is a vehicle to transmit their passions, especially their full-frontal gender agenda. Bassist Mahovlich admits that the group is “really fascinated by gender roles and fucking with them. If you’re gonna be a dyke then you’ve gotta wear boxer shorts, a T-shirt and a ball cap. If you’re not that prototype, you’re not good enough. And also being able to mix both feminine and masculine attributes, it’s automatically assumed that you can’t do that either.”

Co-vocalist Schultz takes on the topic directly in “Transister,” a melodic track where she reflects on a childhood filled with a duality between dresses and the desire to play with army toys. “It was very passionate for me to talk about something close to my heart but a lot of people who go through a similar struggle in different degrees.”

As for another band operative, if the disc’s name-Burn Your Rainbow-wasn’t enough of a clue, the liner notes feature visual aids as well, from a photo of a burning fag flag, to the lyrics of the title track.

“You’re one in a million/stop trying to fit in,” sings Kinakin, true to his beliefs. “When the diversity flag was created,” he explains, “it originally had a black and a white stripe at the top and bottom. When the gay community decided to take it on as a icon, they took those two colours off because they thought it looked better without it. To me, that symbolizes the compromises already made. I think a lot of the issues are being completely ignored. The mainstream gay community says ‘Let’s just talk about the gay women and men who have money and can buy an SUV. And anyone who is a bit too kinky, or a bit too punk, well let’s just ignore them. We want all our gay people to look pretty and to fit into the mainstream.’ Well,” he says fiercely, “that’s not a part of my community.”

As far as their future is concerned, the group has a busy spring of touring ahead, and is also finishing work on a video in hopes of reaching a larger audience. “We wanna see how far we can take this,” concludes Kinakin, “realizing there’s a limit, and trying to see if we can create a really interesting niche where it is possible for us to have one foot in the punk rock world and one foot in the queer world.”


Mar 7 – Not your average drag show @ SFU

Mar 8 – Pat’s Pub

Mar 9 – Cafe Mesa Luna