Christi is an interesting woman that I met during my brief time working with Grip Of Delusion Radio where she was also a DJ. Things have changed and now she manages it, along with Vania and several others, more than just playing shows for the online radio. She plays in her band, Sister Rat, and still has a hand in music promotion. We decided to have a quick chat for the zine, and, so, here it is. Hope you guys find her as inspiring as I do.
Hi! Where are you?
Colorado. Heading to Loveland.
Hadn't really thought about trucking since my dad.
Haha I can imagine...same for me with the original form of pirating products.
Oh yeah. My musical education started with tapes my dad bought on the road. Lots of Gordon Lightfoot.
Mine used to make and sell knock off shit in nyc in the 80's. Formed an empire. That is badass [about her dad. -ED].
That's kind of intense.
Ha yeah. Dinner talk consisted of tales of running from cops and snitches. So tell me more about the music your dad brought from the road.
Dan Fogelberg, America, Old & In The Way, New a Riders Of The Purple Sage, Flying Burrito Bros. I grew up with trucker music, hippie bluegrass, and country. My dad was a greaser in Missouri in the fifties. He told me about his perfectly greased duck tail hair do and getting beat up everyday. That's why he hated me being punk rock. He was also like, "girls can have colored hair, but not you." My dad was a closeted cross dresser.
You ever catch him in the act or was just a hunch you had?
When my brother came out as gay, my dad told him. I've seen a picture. My dad was kind of a swinger, they sold weed and owned a liquor store. My mom hated my dad was a crossdresser and took it out on me whenever I was femme.
You feel like being trans is something that was an eventuality due to genetics because of your father or just something you took an inclination to?
I've been trans since I was separated from the girls at age eight or so. Before that it didn't register. I told my parents over and over they were wrong, then I started telling them they were fucked.
So they were both in denial and your father a hypocrite. Were they also religious?
My dad was agnostic. Said so on his dog tags. My mom was from an Irish Catholic background. They forced me to go to church so they could hump on the weekend.
Sounds about right. Did all of this have a huge bearing on why you became a punk?
My brother was into punk. I'd watch him make a zine in 1984, on our kitchen table. He had a band that practiced in our garage. I was into earlier punk and then goth then hardcore, and then metal.
When did you eventually decide to pick up an instrument and play in a band?
My mom made me take band class to get a guitar. I was in choir before that. I got my first guitar, an Ovation Strat, when I was 15. I played my first gig when I was seventeen. We were banned from the club for cussing and sucking. My first band was called Hate Party U.S.A. We were named after a cable TV dance show.
Punk band I am assuming? What kind of topics did you guys tackle with the band?
Oh yeah. Well, Flipper was our biggest influence. Joke band. We were real ass hats. Kind of fun. Real absurd stuff. I brought a more hardcore influence. We had a song about hot dogs, and long distance telephone commercials, we covered a song by N.O.T.A..
Haha nice. Did your bands and topics become increasingly serious over the years or have you always maintained that sense of humor with them all?
We made lots of t-shirts. Our second drummer was friends with the guy who would go on to do the art for The Flaming Lips. He would steal CDs and trade them for tees. That was the guy who taught me to screenprint. We would spray paint "Hate Party" everywhere. We played three parties, but with all that advertising everybody said they saw us. We had a fan club called The Hate Brigade that was more like a gang.
Nice! Sounds like a blast!
Our drummer went to prison so we trashed his toy drum set and called it quits. We started a more serious band called Staunch. I bought Neurosis's first album on cassette. That was the game changer. That and Nausea and Antischism. We got much harder and heavier, but all my projects have maintained a sense of humor, I think.
Good to have a nice balance. What kind of topics did the more serious content cover?
Holy wars, class wars, seasonal depressive disorder, Kurt Cobain selling out punk. Stuff like that.
Something I am interested in knowing. Which scene was more accepting of your gender especially when you started to change your outward appearance? Did you ever hide parts of who you are at one point? Any of your personal battles bleed into the music?
When I was a goth punk kid, sixteen to eighteen years old, my hardcore friends were all very accepting. Oklahoma City had a very strong goth scene back then. We were hanging out with ravers losing our minds. We all hung out at a gay juice bar. I was hanging out there when I was fifteen. The day I graduated high school, I moved out, six months later I was homeless. It was then I started going to jail, and constantly battling skinheads and gay bashers, I was watching people fight every night. Staunch turned into a band called Hate Farm. We toured the west coast and broke up the day we got back home. I had a nervous breakdown and ran to Norman, Oklahoma where I squatted and couch surfed for a year. I was suffering from acute paranoid schizophrenia, I thought the nazis and the religious right were gaslighting me. It culminated with me trying to kill myself at Mardi Gras. I decided soon after that to leave Oklahoma with a friend who played bass for all the bands I was in. We stole gas and went to Dallas. I recovered about a half a year later. I never really got to explore being a woman until I moved to Kansas although I was always femme.
How different do you find it being a woman versus a man? Did you find inner peace with it? Has your music changed with the transition?
I was always talked down to, I never felt like I had any agency or power. People thought I was hardcore into the scene, but I also refused to work. I got wasted and angry and kicked out of cities. When I finally transitioned, a decade ago, I think the only thing that changed is my outward appearance. If anything, the congruity of my body and my brain now allows me more confidence than I had before. I just wanted to be dead, now I want the brass ring. My girl group, punk/pop/sludge group, Sister Rat, is very satisfying. We play about five shows a year, but that's more than where I left off.
Sounds like you have settled in pretty well and found your "zen."
what's your favorite thing about playing music or being involved in music in general?
Like wanted to be in a band, or write a zine or make shirts for bands, basically make music or work in music, but when my band's started getting attention as a teen, I didn't really want to get famous doing it. The idea of transitioning in public was daunting. Regardless, the people I was in bands with were very self destructive and my voice was drowned out by the more macho members. I couldn't live in Oklahoma, when I left, I never turned back. Then I was homeless, but I had a cassette player and Tom Waits and The Pogues gave me inspiration to keep moving. Sometimes it's just a riff from Cathedral that gives me all the inspiration to live.
Love Tom Waits myself and I can identify with music paving the way out of self-destruction. What is beauty to you?
Caring. When someone cares about a better future. I cry at everything, but a PSA against bullying or people being selfless makes the waterworks just flow. When we were scumpunks wandering downtown Dallas we'd go to the museum a lot. They had Starry Night by Van Gogh, it might seem trite, but you could fall into it. I listen to a lot of post metal and instrumental. I find the crescendo laden and sometimes piano driven music of neo goth bands like Mamiffer, or Tomydeepestego, or Red Sparowes incredibly beautiful.
Van Gogh.. brings back good memories for me too, but more alone observing and learning. So, I know that you do a radio show and have Sister Rat. Tell me about your involvement with Grip and how that started and evolved and your intended future with all forms of music promotion.
One night, a couple years ago, I was punching in words like stoner and doom into a search engine when Grip Of Delusion popped up. I thought it was the coolest right away so I sent some fan art to Gary Delusion, the guy who put all the work into getting the station off the ground. All kudos in that regard go to Gary. He put all his waking energy into the station. He pooled all these separate DJs in, he convinced me to do a radio show. I started that, and making bumpers for the station, then I was hosting label rollouts and shows highlighting all the submissions we were getting. Gary started burning out, it costs actual money, and time, and he asked Ed Gane and Vania Yosifova and me, if we wanted to take over the reigns.
Is Grip the only thing you are working on right now in the arena or promo work?
My day job is making t-shirts. I burn screens and manage workflow. I've made shirts for Om, Sleep, Neurosis, Isis, Meteor City, Southern Lord, etc. I wanted to make shirts for bands since I was seventeen. It makes me happy to help keep them on road. I have to have a day job, nobody is really interested in my music [laughing] at least I'm surrounded by this amazing art.
Kind of envy that job of yours in a way, but, then again, I have this ship I must sail. When you are creating music, where do you draw your inspiration from?
I'm inspired by discoveries we're making in science on the nature of space and quantum physics. My wife, and the drummer of Sister Rat, we read a lot, and watch cult films. Our band name was taken from an Almodovar film. She writes the sexy songs, I write the sad ones about dying and getting beat up by fascists.
Something to fit your personalities. How did you two meet?
We met at a party by the river, it was a punk rock Mother's Day party. She liked that I was doing a crossword. I thought she was cool as all hell. One night, I was really drinking hard by this time, I passed out in the middle of this busy street. My friends drive up and stopped and realizing it was me, took me with them to Xoe's apartment. We dated and lived together a long time. We decided to get married on 06/06/06, but we've been together since 1998. People need to be true to themselves, and lay off the drama. We're all going to die, why make it worse for the living?
Misery loves company, as does everything else. I like your philosophy though. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions candidly and openly.
Thank you, Sarah. Keep kicking ass. Oh, and I basically think everything deserves to be made fun of a little. There's not enough laughing in the world.