Possum Plows has had enough. As the lead singer of Openside, New Zealand’s premier pop-punk collective, they’ve gifted us countless awesome tunes but, in a world seemingly going to hell, sometimes the only thing left to say is FCK U.
I caught up with Plows about Openside’s latest track… and found out who it’s dedicated to.
Hi Possum! How are you?
Honestly, it’s a scary time right now with everything that’s going on politically and the near-inevitable demise of our environment… most days it’s hard to give yourself space to feel anything other than existential terror, but I did treat myself to the remastered Kingdom Hearts games recently so they are bringing a little joy into my life
Well, that’s good at least. So, the new single [video above] is a banger. I’ll start with the obvious question: who is it dedicated to?
Thank you! I wrote it on a day when I was feeling especially angry and frustrated with the men who exist to maintain the status quo, because of the ways it benefits them and feeds their egos. Until recently I was a lot more willing to play by their rules and tread delicately through the maze they have built in this industry. I believed it would ultimately help me elevate my message and change the system from within. In reality, it led to me pandering, compromising too much and being taken advantage of. So I’m done. There is a complex network of systems in place that enables white men in positions of privilege to abuse their power. They need to be challenged, confronted and held accountable.
I’m particularly drawn to a line in the second verse: 'Cause I think that I feel more like me when I’m afraid. Can you tell me about that?
My identity has long been tied to feelings of fear, insecurity, anxiety, and neurosis. You can hear these emotions centered in basically every Openside song. And that’s a hard thing to shake. It feels safe to always be looking within, expressing discomfort at yourself and who you are and how you relate to the world. It’s a lot scarier to direct your criticism outward. To even write this song I had to dream up an imaginary version of myself who would have the confidence to call people out on their bullshit. I think, maybe, that this running narrative of inner turmoil and self-hatred that many of us have, the system likes to feed it and encourage it. Like it’s a tactic used to keep us from fighting back. Marginalised people are taught to look for what WE are doing wrong at all times, how we are at fault for the way that people in positions in power are treating us. And that’s something I’m trying to let go of a little.
Who are you feeling inspired by right now?
I have always hoped that a high profile non-binary person would publicly use they/them pronouns, so I am jazzed about Sam Smith! Lizzo is out here breaking rules and reinventing pop music. India Moore is doing badass work as an actor and trans activist. Greta Thunberg is carrying the climate justice movement on her back, with support from the wonderful teenagers of the world who are fighting for our planet. I actually really love this question because it’s refreshing to take time and actually think about the things that bring HOPE.
You’ve been open about being non-binary for several years now – do you think that’s had an effect on your relationship with your fans? Particular your younger fans, within the rainbow community?
When I first came out there were hardly any openly trans people in entertainment, but the people I did know of, I cherished and appreciated deeply. So the possibility of helping others feel comfortable in themselves was a big motivator for me to be open about my gender. I’ve spoken to a lot of young people over the years who feel that Openside has helped them understand and embrace their identity. Creating a space where youth are safe to explore and express themselves has always been incredibly important to me.
What’s next for Openside?
We are embracing our more assertive and confident voice in our new songs, which has been so liberating honestly. We have an NZ tour in Oct/Nov and will be bringing our live show to Australia later this year too.
FCK U by Openside is available on all streaming platforms.Support Villainesse