Heavy Filth aims to make your heart ache and your ears bleed. The all-female, queer heavy-metal band, formed in the summer of 2008, isn’t interested in “happy, squishy pop music,” according to band member Maija Martin.
“We want to write songs that are reflective of a darker queer experience,” she says.
The Toronto band, made up of Maija Martin, Stu Marvel, Miss Kitty Galore and Annie Ouellette, recently released their first EP. Their song “Maximum Damage” can be heard in Bruce McDonald’s film Trigger, coming out this fall.
Xtra sat down with Martin to talk heartbreak, alienation and the unexpected thrills of moving up in Google searches.
XTRA: How did you choose the band’s name?
MARTIN: We wanted it to sound heavy. We wanted it to sound ballsy. I did a Google search for “Heavy Filth” to see what would come up before we picked the name. There was a quote from a woman in the States who was talking about how there was gay content at her library or something and she referred to it as being “heavy filth.” And so I thought that was apropos.
What’s interesting now is that if you try to Google “heavy filth” that woman doesn’t come up anymore. That was an unintended effect!
XTRA: Why do you think it’s important to do queer metal?
MARTIN: There’s a certain kind of gay experience that’s represented culturally that doesn’t always speak to us. There’s a perception around women’s music that it’s all gonna be acoustic and there’s gonna be beautiful harmonies and that kind of thing. I also like to listen to that kind of music but that’s not always what I want to listen to and that’s not how I want people to see me as a performer.
I think for us a lot of the songs are about heartbreak and sadness and how you can feel alienated. It’s sort of the darker side of gay. It’s not all fun and games and dance parties. There can be a lot of hurt and there can be a lot of people feeling alienated from the community as well.
I’m making us sound like depressed freaks! But I do think that, in general in the world we live in, there’s a lot of shying away from the more difficult feelings. That’s what we wanted to explore in this band.
XTRA: Have you experienced discrimination as a female metal band?
MARTIN: I don’t think it’s discrimination, but it really is just a male genre.
I was on the bus the other day and there was this guy wearing a shirt that said “Legends of Rock.” It had the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and it had all these people on there and they were all dudes! Why isn’t Patti Smith on there? There are other people who were hugely influential who are not dudes who did amazing, groundbreaking work that we just don’t recognize.
Women in metal also get kind of rubbed out. It’s not that there aren’t women who play metal, it’s just that they’re seen as less important.
XTRA: What are your fans like?
MARTIN: It’s funny because we sort of have two different genres. There’s the punk metal scene, which is pretty guy-heavy, and then there’s the gay scene. It’s interesting when you get those two communities coming together. It actually works really well.
XTRA: Tell me about your upcoming gig in Montreal.
MARTIN: This is our first Montreal gig. We’re really excited because we all lived in Montreal at one point or another.
We’re playing with other gay metal bands, which is going to be awesome. Usually we’re playing with other metal bands that are not gay and all dudes. Or we’re playing in a gay context where it’s a real mish-mash of genres. It’s so great that we’re playing in a gay metal environment.
Catch Heavy Filth at Pervers/Cité’s Balls to the Wall: Queer Metal Night on Aug 14, 9pm at Cagibi (5490 St Laurent), or in Toronto at the Church Street Fetish Fair on Aug 15, 3pm on the South Stage. For more, see www.myspace.com/heavyfilth.