Cristy C. Road is a Cuban-American zine-maker, writer, illustrator, Green Day fan, Gemini and all-round bad-ass. She has published several illustrated books—Indestructible (2006), Bad Habits: A Love Story (2008), Spit and Passion (2012)—and is currently working on a tarot card deck and making music with her band, The Homewreckers. Road was part of the Sister Spit: The Next Generation Tour in 2007 and the POC Zine Project Race Riot! Tour in 2012.
Recently Bluestockings Magazine’s Co-Editor-in-Chief, Sophia Seawell, had the chance to talk to Road in a three-part interview series. In the first segment, Road spoke about zine-making, publishing, and the pernicious omnipresence of capitalism. In this second installment, Road talks about her relationship with the punk scene as a queer woman of color. In the next segment, she’ll discuss themes of gender and sexuality as they overlap in her life and work.
To see some of her work visit her website.
Sophia Seawell: Your relationship with Green Day’s music is a big part of Spit & Passion. Would you say it’s been a major influence in your own process of making music, or was that relationship specific to that point in your life?
Cristy Road: No, it’s definitely influential towards my music, because I play in a pop-punk band, The Homewreckers, and it’s the genre of music that I’ve always loved and want to create and be a part of. I learned how to play guitar when I was 15 and started writing music back then—very simple punk songs. I remember me and my friend wrote this song about a guy that was dating her so he could drink her dad’s alcohol and we were so mad at him. It was the first punk song I was super proud of.
I guess I’ve also always known that it was my dream to be in a punk band — not that my dream wasn’t to make art, because it was, but I felt like I had complete control over that. Maybe not complete control, because you need an audience and you need a response, but with music, I need bandmates. and It’s very hard keeping bandmates. With queer bands, bandmates start falling for each other. And people have other projects—I use this term when my bandmates have other bands that are more important to them, I’m like, that’s your primary partner band, and the Homewreckers is my primary partner band, so I want bandmates who can also make it their primary partner band. So it’s a difficult journey.
SS: You said at a certain point making music wasn’t really about identity for you. Would you say it is now?
CC: Lyrics have always been about identity or queerness or love or race. The very first song I wrote for us is about Cuba, it’s called ‘Oh Fidel’ and it’s all about the embargo. So my identity has always been in the songwriting, but now we’re just being more confident and saying ‘we’re a queer band, and this is what we believe in, and this is who we are.’ The motivation to do that came with the formation of a queer punk community. I noticed after our tour that there was a queer punk scene—it’s just a matter of playing music and organizing an event and having all the queer punks come out. A lot of new bands started forming around Brooklyn, so the scene had this epic moment where there were so many bands, but when people start breaking up and so bands start breaking up. It’s just life, and no punk scene stays the same for a long time, but it’s still very active.
I’m organizing a queer punk pride event right now.
We just finished our first full-length album, so that is where I’ve invested my drawing and writing energy. I’m not working on a book or zine about my childhood for the first time in ten years, or more. Though even before those ten years I wasn’t totally writing about my childhood, I was writing about punk and being in the activist community, about identity and healing and merging culture with subculture and sexuality identity, all that stuff. I’m proud of the projects but I’m done. I’m working on a tarot card deck now.
SS: Do you feel like between this project and your previous writing projects that one feels more political than the other or that they feel political in different ways?
CR: They feel political in different ways. The art and the writing is way more accessible, and then my band exists in the punk scene. I would love to do more diverse events —I want to play with hip-hop bands so badly and I want to play with other angry political bands that aren’t punk bands. There are a lot of queer and political bands out there, but it’s hard to connect with them especially if you’re a hermit artist. So now how I put energy and focus into diversifying my punk music experience is by playing with punk bands who are queer, who are queer people of color, who are women. It’s just so accepted, the status quo, for a punk show to be predominantly straight white guys. That’s just how it is in so many of those scenes, and that’s how the comic industry is. You can’t get away from it.
All the punk scenes that I’ve looked up to historically have been in different countries or very queer or Latino. All these things have existed even if they only exist for a couple months, but I feel like it’s very important for me to try to continue to create that. There’s so much rad stuff happening right now, there are a lot of bands from around here that I keep hearing about—
SS: Like who?
CR: This band Downtown Boys, they’re really awesome, I’m obsessed with them (over the Internet, I’ve never seen them). There’s another band based in Brooklyn that are really awesome, called Shady Hawkins, I’ll see their flyers and I’m like, “Who are all these amazing QPOC bands from New England? Where are they coming from?” Even my neighbours in Brooklyn, the front person in their band is a queer person of color. And we just played with this band Dirty Circle who are also a very diverse group of punks and women-fronted. I’m just throwing out all these punk band names but there’s just a lot going on in that community so there’s a lot to work with.
SS: Something I’ve been thinking about because I’ve heard you describe communities as ‘punk’ or ‘queer’ but I haven’t heard you describe yourself as being in feminist spaces —
CR: I think I just forgot! Feminist punk exists, but because in the past it hasn’t been queer enough or POC-centric, I feel like I elevate the queer punk and QPOC punk over feminist punk. As a queer person who’s been in queer communities, I’ve never sought out a lesbian community, or a women’s community—my feminism has never been a cisgender-women-only kind of feminism, ever. So I don’t use the term as casually, but I do use it! I’m all about the bell hooks, “feminism is for everybody.” It’s an umbrella term for queer identities, women—for smashing gender roles, basically.
Interview with Cristy C. Road, conducted by Sophia Seawell, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Images Courtesy of Cristy C. Road via http://www.croadcore.org/