By Jeff Walsh
Blue Period is about to launch onto the music scene this month with their first al-bum, Product. The San Francisco band describes its sound as glittery hard rock meets dark arty pop.
The band is fronted by Adrian Roberts, a 29-year-old self-described omnisexual gender-morphed tranny freak. Swirly Rat Jr., the 35-year-old bass player for the band is also queer. The rest of the band consist of Matt Chaikin, 35, on drums; PF, 29, electronics; and Christopher Hogan, 26, guitar.
The band's first album was produced by Chris Freeman, the bass player for Pansy Division, whom the band credits for tightening their sound.
"Chris Freeman really kicked our butts when we were recording 'Product, and our songwriting and arrangements improved markedly after working with him," Adrian said, in a recent online interview, which brought all the Blue Period members into a chat room for a joint, chaotic interview.
Every question forced the band members online to one-up each other when an-swer questions, even when the question was as basic as asking the genesis of the band's name.
For example, PF said the name refers to the menstrual cycle of Smurfs. Chris said it refers to Picasso's famed blue period, which PF said made sense when the band thought it was going to be more arty. Adrian said it refers to a boy's time of the month ("pink is for girls, blue is for boys -- when boys get bitchy -- blue period.") The banter seemed to set Swirly off...
"You guys are really gross, talking about art and stuff," he said.
Blue Period, which began as a spoken word noise combo, does not want to be pi-geon-holed as a queer band, though.
"That term is simply too limited in scope for what we're ultimately doing. Not to mention the fact that only two of the five band members are queer!" Adrian said. "Basically, we're just very matter-of-fact and 'whatever' about any inherent queer-ness we might have. It's not a big deal, and it's certainly not a gimmick. We don't play it up, but we don't play it down either. It's just a part of who we are."
Some of the band's lyrics do have a queer bend to them, which isn't surprising since Adrian pens most of the lyrics. One of the band's songs "Monster" is about the need to come out of the closet.
I make you ache with guilt and shame
I am something you can't tame
Try to pretend that you're not scared
Confront me now if you dare
And I can't help it, and you can't help it
And I can't help it, come out now...
"'Monster' is quite obviously an indictment of anyone who is afraid to 'fess up to the truth about themselves. People need to come out of their closets, and be honest with themselves, whether it be related to sexual orientation, a certain fetish, or, really, anything that one keeps hidden within them, due to guilt. That feeling can eat one away. That feeling is a monster that can destroy a person," said Adrian.
Adrian said he first accepted he was bi at age 17.
"Suddenly that teenage Duran Duran fixation started to make sense," he recalls. "I had a girlfriend at the time, and she was bisexual as well, so it was all fairly easy for me. In fact, she was the one who really pushed me to accept the fact that I was actually bisexual. Then, once I had it figured out, it was never a big deal. Although, admittedly, things didn't really explode for me until after I moved to San Francisco. That's when I started dealing with 'tranny issues.'
"My own self-definition continues to evolve," Adrian said. "In fact, it changes all the time, depending on my mood! Right now it's 'omnisexual femme gender-morphed androgynous freak.' I mean, it's not like I only look like this when I'm up on stage. This is me, this is who I am. I wear eyeliner and dresses and lipstick and glitter in real life.
"I've been wearing femme clothing since I was about 10 years old. Granted, when my mother caught me secretly wearing her clothes when I was about 12, she and my evil stepfather drop-kicked me into therapy so fast it would make your head swim," Adrian said. "I was pretty freaked out by it all at first, and then I just came to the realization that there was really absolutely nothing wrong with what I was doing. That's when I started shopping in the girls' department of clothing stores, around the age of about 15 or so.
"I spent my high school years as a drama club geek, looking like an androgynous mod new waver, or an early-80s MTV refugee. Then, when I went to college, I moved into my androgynous gothic darkwave phase," he recalls. "After I moved to San Francisco 6-1/2 years ago, I realized that I could be as glammed out as I wanted to be, and that it wasn't going to be a big deal. So that's when I started moving into my riot grrrl/club kid phase.
"Needless to say, I never really made a very good drag queen, seeing as that I hate wigs and false eyelashes and fake nails and stiletto heels and show tunes and Hi-NRG dance music and all that other 'queeny'-type stuff," Adrian said. "I've always been much more of rock-and-roll diva, and that's where I am today!"
Swirly's coming out was entirely different.
"I didn't come out until I was 27! Can you believe it?" Swirly said. "The thing is that my brother is gay too, so when I came out it was like, 'Now I'm really letting down the family. It was strange. I had all these friends that were gay, but I couldn't figure myself out at the time. I was never really tweaked, there was just sort of this nagging 'what if' feeling."
Swirly finally accepted his sexuality when he had a mondo crush on a guy.
Another track on Product, "We Eat Our Own" might seem familiar to anyone who's worked within the gay community and seen the infighting and back-stabbing that often goes on. Adrian wrote the song after seeing the behind the scenes goings-on with the 1997 gay pride parade in San Francisco.
Isn't it ironic we assumed we'd all get along?
Nothing is ever black and white, we couldn't be more wrong
Should we rally up the troops? Splintered off in little groups
Don't you know we're the ones we hurt the most? No, no, no!
There were aims, there were goals, we nearly had them in our sights
Now we're too busy caught up in our petty fights
So blind that we can't see we're our worst enemy
Round and round we bout again, oh no! No, no, no!
Stick your knife in
Slice a piece off
Now what have you lost?
We eat our own! We eat our own. We eat our own!
"'We Eat Our Own' can be seen as a song that's critical of the back-stabbing bitchiness and petty in-fighting that seems prevalent in the gay community, espe-cially the San Francisco gay community," Adrian said. "Dealing with the San Fran-cisco Pride Parade Committee last year inspired the lyrics. However, it's not JUST about the gay community. The song could just as easily be about any group of peo-ple who can't get their shit together--any group that gets so caught up in arguing with each other that they end up not getting anything important accomplished."
This spring, Blue Period hopes to have its first west coast tour. Adrian said he'd love to eventually do a national tour, although there is some concern as to how om-nisexual femme gender-morphed androgynous freaks will play in middle America.
"Some of my friends worry that I'd freak out the straight boys in the audience too much, and end up getting my ass kicked," Adrian said. "You know, they see me on stage and think that I'm this really hot chick singer -- then, of course, I open my mouth and start singing. And THAT'S when they start getting all confused and un-comfortable. But really, I don't worry too much about it."
Adrian is unlike many members of the under-30 gay community, whereby the goal is becoming more and more one of fitting in and showing people that queers are as normal as everyone else.
"Even when I was a teenager, I always had some sort of something in my head that made me not even want to BE normal," he said. "I used to walk around with a button on my jacket that said "Why Be Normal?" I mean, I would look around at all of these boring people in my high school, all of these incredibly close-minded, uninteresting, ignorant people -- people who would get all worked up over the most MUNDANE things, like the football game, or somebody's haircut, or whatever--and I would think, 'I don't want to be like ANY of these people! I want to be differ-ent!'
"So, needless to say, in high school, I went VERY out of my way to let everyone know what a non-conformist I was, how different I was. Granted, I didn't have a lot of friends, but the friends I did have were very GOOD friends," he recalls. "And it's funny... By the end of my senior year -- when everyone signs your yearbook -- amongst all of the usual 'Remember me always' and 'Class of '86 rules!' platitudes, there were a healthy amount of things written in my book that said stuff like, 'I al-ways envied you for having the courage to be yourself,' and 'You're strange but it's what makes you interesting' and 'Don't ever change, I respect you for being differ-ent.' So it's weird. High school was rough, and I certainly wouldn't want to do it over again, but it's funny how much respect you can command simply by having confidence within yourself.
"And of course, just because I'm queer doesn't necessarily mean that I gel auto-matically with anyone else who is queer either," he said. "In fact, just as I feel like the token freak amongst a group of straight people, I often feel like the token freak within the gay scene too! For instance, when I first started going to gay bars, I ab-solutely abhorred the music. For the most part, I still do. I despise all the stereo-types too, like, just because I'm queer I'm supposed to love Judy Garland and Bar-bra Streisand. And I'm supposed to know how to dress well. And have short hair. And all of that. Remember that scene near the beginning of Gregg Araki's 'Totally F***ed Up,' where the kids are bitching about Barbra Streisand and stuff? I TO-TALLY related to THAT!
"There's nothing wrong with being different. The freaks and the weirdos in this world are the ones who make life interesting! When I was a teenager, I used to TRY really hard to be different," he said. "Now, I've realized that I don't have to try at all, yet I'm still seen as a freak! I think my mother has finally realized that this isn't 'just a phase' for me. I still dye my hair strange colors and have a nose ring and it's all no big deal."