Kerrang! (UK) - - NEWS - Shawna Pot­ter

If you’re a fan of rock mu­sic and you have ac­cess to the in­ter­net, chances are you will have no­ticed that the Warped Tour has been mak­ing head­lines this year… for all the wrong rea­sons. Last week, punk vet­er­ans The Dick­ies took it upon them­selves to ver­bally as­sault and de­grade a woman dur­ing their set.then fall­ing In re­verse singer ron­nie radke came out in de­fence of the LA band, in a bizarre and ram­bling Twit­ter mis­sive. It was all very bleak.

In the mid­dle of this de­press­ingly retro misog­yny ex­ist War on Women, for many the stand­out band of Warped 2017. In the same space that The Dick­ies were spew­ing their hate­ful rhetoric,war on Women are play­ing their own brand of punk rock, scream­ing songs about re­pro­duc­tive rights, sur­viv­ing abuse and fight­ing against ram­pant sex­ism. Tak­ing that mes­sage across Amer­ica, es­pe­cially in to­day’s po­lit­i­cal cli­mate, is a bold move, but it’s not one that this band shy away from.

“Play­ing to peo­ple that might not want to hear our mes­sage is just part of play­ing in a band that talks about women’s rights,” says vo­cal­ist Shawna Pot­ter.“but that’s not just the case on Warped, ei­ther. It’s so nor­mal not to give value to women and their strug­gles, so what­ever show we play, no mat­ter who we’re open­ing for and how cool they might be, we’re still play­ing to peo­ple that don’t want to hear about fem­i­nism.”

Warped has a che­quered re­cent his­tory with a series of high-pro­file al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual ha­rass­ment. Many feel such in­ci­dents haven’t been dealt with well.yet that was all part of the rea­son for War on Women join­ing the tour.

“We didn’t say yes to the of­fer [for War on Women to play Warped 2017] right away,” Shawna con­tin­ues.“we had to think about it for a lot of rea­sons. But even­tu­ally we came to the con­clu­sion that we’ve al­ways been a band that are will­ing to put our­selves in front of po­ten­tially hos­tile or un­re­cep­tive au­di­ences.and it takes all kinds; ev­ery kind of band is needed. Bands that preach to the choir are ab­so­lutely needed be­cause the choir needs to be preached to and need that to re­late to, but then you also have to have bands who go out and try to con­vert. It’s not al­ways easy or pleas­ant, but we’re happy to be that band right now.

“for a lot of peo­ple,warped is their first ex­pe­ri­ence at a show,” the singer says.“i thought if we could set a good ex­am­ple of what punk is re­ally about – which is chal­leng­ing the sta­tus quo – then it was worth do­ing, es­pe­cially if we could do it in a more mean­ing­ful way, which is why we’re do­ing more than just play­ing.”

The band have taken Safer Scenes out onto the tour with them, an ini­tia­tive co-cre­ated by the band and some friends that aims to speak to peo­ple about what they can do to help peo­ple who have been the vic­tim of as­sault or ha­rass­ment at rock shows. “Be­ing able to bring peo­ple out with us to talk about this was ac­tu­ally a huge part of our agree­ing to play on Warped,” Shawna says. “Al­most every­one in our van has been sub­ject to ha­rass­ment or vi­o­lence at shows or in pub­lic, so that mat­ters a lot to us.we have these two amaz­ing ac­tivists out with us who talk to fans at the ta­ble through­out the day and tell them what they can do to help when they see some­thing that isn’t right. Most peo­ple want to do the right thing, they just don’t want to mess it up, so they’re here to tell peo­ple what they can do that will be help­ful to the vic­tim and help every­one’s show-go­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to be bet­ter.” And what of ron­nie radke’s claim that The Dick­ies’ ac­tions were punk? “I’ve al­ways felt that punk was meant to chal­lenge the sta­tus quo,” says Shawna,“and that’s es­pe­cially true right now, when the sta­tus quo is Don­ald fuck­ing Trump.there’s noth­ing more sta­tus quo than the Amer­i­can pres­i­dent and the peo­ple he has around him, and those peo­ple hate women and they hate gay peo­ple and they hate refugees.what else is there to fight against, but that? If you’re fight­ing against a woman speak­ing her truth, you sound ex­actly like them.”

“Punk is About chal­leng­ing The sta­tus quo…”

(L – R:) Brooks Har­lan (gui­tar), Sue Werner (bass), Shawna Pot­ter (vo­cals)

The Dick­ies on­stage… and off

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