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CoG Interviewed Renae Bryant in June, 2006

Renae Bryant runs On the Rag Records, fronts the touring hardcore punk band all or nothing h.c., teaches, publishes a zine, and recently released a second volume of women voiced rock and hardcore in a compilation aptly titled “Put Some Pussy in Your Punk!!!(or else) vol.2”. With her plate full, Renae still made time to talk with Church of Girl. Whew!

CoG: You wear many hats, from publisher to a rock 'n' roll call to arms leader. All your effort translates into true passion, or a passion for truth. Can you tell us more about where this passion comes?

Renae: Wow! “Call to arms leader.” That sounds really intimidating, unless you’re speaking of arming yourself with knowledge, then I fully endorse and accept the title. :) Many people know that I am an educator. With songs like “La Maestra” and “Deliberate,” I’m not really trying to hide the fact. Arming ourselves with an education, knowledge, accurate information is extremely powerful for all people. I know for a fact that my “truth” is not everyone’s “truth.” Each of us has to make our own way and find our own reason for existence. My truth, my dharma is to make a positive difference in this world through music and education. I want to leave the world a better place through my actions in my lifetime. I am inspired to this truth by people like: Gandhi, Dr. Martin L. King Jr., Cesar Chavez, Susan B. Anthony, Mother Jones, Joseph Campbell, Penny Newman, Delores Huerta, as well as not so famous everyday people committing them selves to positive activism.

CoG: In most of your writings you ask the audience to participate in social change by standing up for what they believe. What authors, past or contemporary, do you think people should be reading today?

Renae: This is a good question. I love to ask bands this question myself…to get them out of the sphere of music. Many people say that they don’t have to time to read, but I swear I have read most of the Harry Potter series on the toilet. So, there really isn’t any excuse for not reading. So my list of must reads: ADBUSTERS Magazine, Mother Jones Magazine, Profane Existence, The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers, Theatre of the Oppressed by Augusto Boal, Diet for a New America and The Food Revolution both by John Robbins, any Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, any Krishnamurti, any Paulo Freire, any Chomsky, etc.

With the immigration debate as is and with my background in Latin American Studies, I have been encouraging people to read Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent by Eduardo Galeano, and Latinos and the Political System edited by Chris Garcia. If you really want to know how brain washed evangelical Christians think read the Bible, as well as all the bs conservative crap that comes out weekly. One of the first rules in Sun Tzu Art of War is to know your enemy. The conservative right have mastered this. The liberal left have not.

CoG: The last song on A.O.N.H.C.’s “What Doesn’t Kill You” album, KNIFE TO MY NECK, is explained in the credits and feels very personal. Do you look at this song as merely an outlet to express yourself or a song with the intention of bringing to debate a subject not often discussed?

Renae: This song started out as a column that appeared in MRR and Not Without a Fight fanzine. The column told the entire story of how I was raped by a serial rapist. I decided to write the column as a result of a very ignorant reader of MRR who had told me that my friend was asking for it when she was attacked by the local Hell’s Angels. He told me that I had no idea of what it was to be a victim. Well, he didn’t know me very well, but he was right. I am not a victim. I am a survivor. So I decided to tell the story of my survival. Mia Zapata (singer of The Gits) was raped and murdered three months before I was raped and survived. I had a very hard time with that as well as knowing that at the same time young girls all over the world were being raped and murdered in the name of war. I had a hard time with that too. So yeah, to be able to say, “you have raped me but you haven’t killed my spirit” means a lot to me. Many women and men are afraid or ashamed to admit that they have been molested or raped. I hope by being open and honest in my art I can help them to see that they are not alone. That too is a purpose for existence: to touch each others lives so we don’t feel alone or abandoned in our journeys. The feed back, from the column and the song, have made it all worth it.

CoG: What parts of the country really seem to vibe with your band?

Renae: This reminds me of that scene in the movie “Singles” where the guy in the band talks about how they’re really big in Japan, or some crap like that. We have been well received in the North West, East Coast and parts of the South West, as well as some of the Mid West. We have kind of avoided “heartland” and some of the “Bible Belt.” There is ignorance where ever you go, but it is more rampant in some areas. The punk scenes that survive it get serious praise. Controversial internet sites like Myspace have made connecting with people all over the nation, as well as the world so much easier. It’s really exciting because just ten-twelve years ago all correspondence was done through snail mail. Email interviews weren’t even a possibility in my mind yet.

CoG: Digital or analog?

Renae: After working with Paul Miner (Death By Stereo) at For the Record, I’d have to say it doesn’t matter to me. It’s all about the band and who is running the board, mixing and mastering it.

CoG: I was pleasantly surprised by the variety within of acts on the Put Some Pussy in Your Punk, Vol. 2 Comp, and commend you for compiling such a list and making it available to the public. The reason I am asking you this next question is because I know the answer isn't, "Because of the money..." But why did you feel the need to be so cool and put together such an ongoing collection of rockin' music?

Renae: Thanks for appreciating my efforts. I am 35 now. I put Vol. 1 out when I was 28. It took awhile for me to be able to stabilize my income enough to be able to fund these kinds of projects. As I said before, I am an educator. I fund the project with my teacher’s salary. I decided I wanted to be in a band when I was fifteen. When I was in my twenties, the whole cock rock, jock rock, skater boy punk rock thing was big. When I turned 26 I decided I wasn’t going to wait around for some guy to put out my band (He’s Dead Jim…at the time). So I started a label. I had no idea what I was doing, but had the nerve, drive and time so I did it. I had done a zine for three years prior so it just kind of sprung from that. Now that I’m kind of scene elder at 35 :), I have the opportunity to help the female musicians in a way that I didn’t get helped. That’s amazing to me to be able to help them make their dreams come true. I inspire them, they inspire me, we all inspire younger female and male musicians and it’s an amazing fact. As far as feeling the need to be so cool…”I’m gonna stay young until I die.”-7 Seconds

CoG: I recently read the all or nothing hc website and was wondering if you have found new guitarists? And if so, is there a tour coming?

Renae: Yes, we have a new female rhythm guitarist, Natalie Rodriguez. We have a new drummer, Tiger. We are still looking for a lead guitarist, but borrowing Clint from the band The Misguided for our up and coming dates. Our next tour will be September 1-16. It will be the first tour for our new members so unfortunately it will be shorter than our normal tours.

CoG: What are the three biggest lies being sold to the world right now?

Biggest lies: humans of different religion, skin color, nationality, etc. are somehow not humans not the same as us…that they don’t deserve basic “essential freedoms;” war is inevitable and necessary; watching sports, playing video games, and watching gossip television/reading gossip magazines is a great way to entertain yourself; global warming isn’t happening; there isn’t enough food to feed the world’s poor and hungry; one person can’t make a difference; you’re too fat; you’re not pretty enough; you’re dick and tits aren’t big enough; you must have meat in your diet to get enough protein; slavery doesn’t exist anymore; abstinence education works; there’s a “God” and “he” “cares” that someone just won a Grammy; children (for that matter all humans) from other impoverish countries somehow don’t deserve food, shelter, clothing, clean water and education; etc. Read 50 Facts That Should Change the World.

CoG: On your website, you hint at "Pussy in Your Punk Vol.3" being double disk and featuring artists worldwide. Can you please share some of those wonderful creators and their web/myspace pages? Some of us can't wait until release date...

Renae: I promise that I will post all the bands and their sites as soon as I collect all the tracks.

CoG: What do you think Hollywood should do to mediate people in a way that motivates social change? Do you have advice to up and coming film makers as to what their content should focus on? Or not focus on?

Renae: I include film in “art.” The director and screen writer should be compelled by their “truths” and not money. I loved Born into Brothels and it affected me tremendously. Not every movie can be that movie, but every artist should convey human truth and try their best to keep it from being spoiled by “machine.”

CoG: What did you do for 666?

Renae: I wish I could say that I danced naked on the top of Mt. Rubidoux, but alas all I did was go to the movies and watch The Omen (all humans must have a certain amount of “no-brainer” time). I grew up watching horror films with my single mother. I saw Trilogy of Terror when I was five and Jaws shortly after. My mom was missing that certain “protective parenting gene.” I am a huge fan of horror and consider that it depicts a certain human truth, especially when you see political horror film like Night of the Living Dead. You better believe I love I Spit on Your Grave.

CoG: You make it a point in the all or nothing hc sleeve that you are a feminist, and that being feminist doesn't mean hating men and being a dyke. Why did you feel like you had to say that?

Renae: I had to say that because people in the area that I lived in said that I was a “man hating dyke” because I am a feminist. People are very ignorant to the definition of feminism. You can hate men and you can be a dyke… hell you can be both and still be a feminist. The definition of feminism, according to Webster is the “theory of equality for women in the economic, political and social spheres.” What woman wouldn’t call herself a feminist? One that has been brain washed by the conservative fundamentalist right that feminists are “man-hating dykes.” Even some female singers out there are guilty of perpetuating this idea: Amy Lee (Evenesence), Gwen Stefani, etc. It’s sad because girls really look up to these kind of women and they are in the media perpetuating ignorance. So that’s why I have to help all the feminist musicians I can “make it” so they can spread the real message…just like Riot Grrrl, back in the day.

CoG: Do you encounter a resurgence of Neo-Nazi hardcore kids these days?

Renae: You can imagine that at the shows we are asked to play on that is not an issue. There is some crazy prison linked “Brotherhood” bullshit that spills into our communities from the prison. It’s real and it sucks. Just like the White Supremacy movement of the 80’s, these fuckers try to “recruit” kids who don’t know who they are yet. Luckily, most punk and hardcore bands can unite against that bullshit. What punk and hardcore has had a hard time admitting and eradicating is that “bro/dude” mentality, where they still say, “Don’t be a fag” or “Don’t be a pussy” or “Don’t be a bitch.” I’m not trying to censor people, but I have no problem confronting these people and questioning their whole “unity” speech they just gave on stage. A real inclusive scene includes everyone.

CoG: What labels are sponsoring good music? What inspiring fresh new tunes are you listening to?

Renae: I am, of course, listening to the bands on the label as well as: Signal Lost, Witch Hunt, Riot This, Gruk, Retching Red, Toxic Narcotic, The Refused, Sick of it All (the new album is excellent), Socialized Crucifixion, etc. Emancypunx Records, out of Poland, rules. I hope you can interview them soon. She is my European long lost sister. Emancypunx is the Polish On the Rag. OTR is the US version of Emancypunx somehow. Rad though…

CoG: What's the most important thing for young artists to remember when a creative funk arrives? What gets you through?

Kafka stated that when he wanted an idea he would sit alone in a room without any distractions and wait. That works. The other side comes from the existentialist in me…GET OUT THERE AND START LIVING SO YOU’LL HAVE SOMETHING TO WRITE ABOUT. Start reading non-fiction, watching documentaries, turn on public tv or radio…read ADBUSTERS, watch the History Channel. You will be inspired.

CoG: 'Essential Freedoms' is such a kick ass song, and repeats a motif that is in many of your lyrics, which is, "Don't be afraid". I praise that attitude. Is there more of this direct attitude being written and laid down in the form of another all or nothing hc album?

Renae: Yes, I suppose a general theme of not being defeated by your fears appears and will continue to appear on future cds. The new songs that I have written really go a step further than “Essential Freedom.” That song was the outline. With this next record I’m in the guts of the essay, so to speak. I really want to confront myself and anyone else who will listen constantly with the message that “We are all humans so we are their people, it’s time to take positive action…Who are their people? We are their people! I am you! You are me! He is she! And They are We!” From our song “They are We.”

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Thank you for giving us this opportunity to discuss subject matter that means so much to us.

By Justin + Church of Girl
Published 28 June 2006