The Queers aren't gay, and they aren't homophobic. The pop-punk rockers just wanted to poke some fun at the gay art community back home in Portsmouth, N.H., in the early 1980s. And besides, the name is catchy.
"That was way back in the old days, yep," says 48-year-old guitarist Joe King (aka Joe Queer) from Atlanta via phone. "We've been around longer than most of our fans now."
Sixteen albums and one DVD later, The Queers are still poking the establishment's eye. From early tune "We'd Have a Riot Doing Heroin" to current White House commentary on "Monkey in a Suit," they've been smacking down the social snobbery with unapologetic riffs. Some things have changed, though.
"I think at first our goals were like, to go on tour and get drunk and maybe get laid or something. And then we got the first royalty check and we were like, "Hmmm, maybe we can do this for a living,'" King recalls.
King's no longer a liquored-up ball of hormones, but his energy hasn't flagged much. Later this year, the newlywed plans to work on his autobiography, appear in a punk-rock movie in Chicago and play some dates in Japan. If he gets bored, he'll make another album. But first he has to wrap up his current tour promoting 2007 release Munki Brain, and then fly to Barcelona before driving to Germany to kick off a European tour with Marky Ramone.
The Ramones were a huge influence on The Queers, and King and the late Joey Ramone were on consistently friendly terms. The Queers opened for The Ramones many times, and Joey asked King to appear on his solo album before he passed away from lymphatic cancer in 2001.
Though his band is frequently labeled "pop-punk," King shrugs off the moniker, calling it "kind of a wide-open designation." He thinks punk, or pop-punk, has become somewhat watered down due to big business.
"Money comes in and changes everything," he says wearily.
But money wasn't the driving factor behind his decision go into new territory with some Beach Boys-style songs.
"I've got the balls now to try some of that pop stuff, which I wouldn't have done before," he explains. "We've got a built-in audience, so I'm able to do it and get away with it."
It's obvious that he has sown a loyal crop of fans. There have been approximately 30 different band members in 25 years, with King the only constant.
He calls his ever-rotating roster of musicians "one big family," and denies that there were ever any seriously scandalous partings though he confesses to kicking out a drummer in Rome once.
He explains that the band had a roadie named Gino who would come up and sing "Louie, Louie." Crowds had come to expect Gino's appearance. But that night, with 2,000 screaming fans and the well-known refrain just beginning, the drummer ended the song.
"It pissed me off so much, I was like, "You're out of here, fuck you.'"
But they're friends today. Now that's punk rock, baby. firstname.lastname@example.org
The Queers with Black Tie Bombers, The Mansfields and Go-Go Gore Girls
The Black Sheep, 2106 E. Platte Ave.
Saturday, June 2, 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $10, all ages; visit sodajerkpresents.com or call 866/468-7621.