The New York Dolls, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, early Manic Street Preachers, Placebo erm Maryiln Manson. Rock history is littered with androgynous rock bands, now you may add Liverpool’s Queen Zee to their number. Claiming to crib from the shock of early punk, the camp and glamour of goth pop, blurring the lines between everything, from sexuality and gender to global politics. Looking quite refreshingly like a ragbag of debauched outcasts, their brand of music harks back to the early naughties when Marilyn Manson ruled the airwaves with his mix of shock and awe.
Perhaps lacking the diversity at times, their furious riffs are delivered with a bludgeoning fist, while chanted refrains are slurred and blurted out like commands, even ill-advisedly dipping their toe into death metal territory at times(I’m far too old to for this) as I look for my earplugs, each member careering around the stage attacking their microphones and throwing their guitars around with a gleeful abandon. Their new single ‘Idle Crown’ is typical, a sinister Sisters of Mercy type rhythm careering into a nihilistic Marilyn Manson style chant along. Dressed in a low cut black blouse and black make up, the lead singer, the self-styled Queen Zee introduces the riotously confrontational, previous single ‘Sissy Fists’ as a ‘queer anthem‘ before they launch headlong into this sneering punky anthem. She’s backed by the unusually named multi-instrumentalist Em Dee (guitar), Frank Flag (bass) and Pink Eyes (drums). ‘Boy’ drips with a kind of sexual tension, jagged guitars lashed to the floor as baselines and drum beats stalk down these twisted melodies that alluded to S&M and burst free of prejudices.
“Sometimes bands should stick to making great music, and sometimes you have to remember you’re in a band and not writing an essay, but I think if you don’t have something to say in the current climate then you’ve been living under a rock. ” says Queen Zee “You’re forced into being political when it feels like everyone’s out for your head. We don’t really have a manifesto, it’s kind of anarchic in that way. We don’t have a single cause or message. We’re a band and we’re here to make the best music we can.”
Although they may sound quite retro at times, its the kind of music you would have heard in the Metros club in Cardiff back in the early 00 in short it’s a very acquired taste, but there’s a real lustre with the way Queen Zee attack these songs live that is infectious. Whether they have the subtlety, longevity and material to outlast the obvious influences and transcend some of the dodgy nu-metal tropes that make this a thrill ride back to the naughties for some, time will tell but in a guitar music landscape at times populated by dreary sexist lad bands, they have an attitude that’s pleasingly abrasive and some unconventional messages that need an airing. These urgent punk songs are clasping to their bosoms a celebration of non-binary lifestyles and LGBT culture of the that could open a few eyes and closed ears.
Images by Emma Lou