The Hidden Cameras

The Hidden Cameras are a mess of contradictions which have seen their live shows performed in Porn Theatres and Churches. Based around a core of songwriter Joel Gibb the bands numbers can swell to 25 people including choirs and gogo dancers, but it's the lyrical themes on songs such as "Ban Marriage" and the bands first full album "The Smell Of Our Own" which are really at the heart of the band. Designer Magazine caught up with Joel Gibb to find out why he sees the Hidden Cameras as the anti Will and Grace.

Q: When you came up with the concept of The Hidden Cameras you came up with this tag of of "gay folk church music". Was that to pre-empt any media tag that might be bestowed on you?
A: That was the idea behind it. To categorize yourself is a little empowering, but it could be a bad thing if that's all that people say. The concept behind the whole band is merging opposing ideas. The lyrics and the music are contradictory and in the lyrics themselves a lot of the themes are contradictory.

Q: I read an interview you'd done previously back in Canada where you said that gay people are trying to fit themselves into straight culture and they should try and celebrate themselves. Would you like to elaborate?
A: I said that in reference to the song "Ban Marriage" where all these clean cut gay couples in the media trying to legitimate the idea of gays marrying and I thought that was counter-productive or counter-revolutionary. I didn't think them were serving much of a cause or the cause was that vital - I don't equate being able to marry as human rights. I saw that as homosexuals compromising themselves and trying to clean themselves up in order to fit into a straight structure and a structure that should be questioned itself.

Q: How do you feel about the way gay people are represented in the media?
A: There represented in this very sanitized way which people might think it really good. It's kind of depressing to be seen really as sanitized images. You know that show "Will & Grace"...i've seen the show a few times and that character isn't even gay, the actor isn't gay and doesn't appear gay in any way and he never has sex. It's a cop out in a way.

Q: I guess that's what "The Smell Of Our Own" is about - trying to portray things realistically?
A: Exactly. Just bringing up the idea. The smell is like a symbol for that.

Q: Who did you look up to when you were growing you? Was there anyone that seemed to speak directly to you?
A: I recently just remembered this performance I saw by Allen Ginsberg. And I remember him reciting this beautiful poem that was a really explicit homosexual encounter and that sort of thing is really inspiring.

Q: How do you feel about people such as Michael Stipe and George Michael who felt they couldn't come out for whatever reason?
A: I don't identify with that at all. I don't see the point in enshrouding yourself in mystery like that. That's really boring and old because I thing straight people can identify with the gay perspective and if they can't then f**k them - they're not worth the time of day anyway. I identify all the time with straight music and all of my favourite musicians are straight and I really identify with songs written by men about their women.

Q: The live shows have a real celebratory atmosphere. How are you going to work this when you come over to the UK in May?
A: We've played in churches, art houses, porn theatres and when you bring it out of a bar it automatically excites people a bit. They're usually in a place they've never been to in a city. I hate the idea of constantly playing in bars and the idea of these beefy rude security men, rude bar tenders, everything painted black, cigarette smoke and sticky floors. When you take it into a church they treat the whole performance differently. You can only do these sort of shows when that's your town, but eventually it would be nice to be in a position to that.

"The Smell Of Our Own" is out now on Rough Trade
The band support The Sleepy Jackson throughout May
For more info

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