Editor’s Note: Jac Walsh uses they/them pronouns.
The Sinclair’s benefit concert for the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center on Sunday is an apt gig for Northampton’s “punk/pop queercore” outfit DUMP HIM, which was founded by the indefatigable writer, musician, and champion of the underground Massachusetts LGBTQ music scene, Jac Walsh.
“I don’t feel comfortable in straight white dude spaces,” Walsh said in a 2015 interview with The Media, an ad-free independent online newspaper for which they were a contributor. “Centering younger folks, women, poc, and queer folks is very important to me.”
In the article, Walsh was speaking about their new DIY show booking collective, Eternal Slumber Party (ESP), which they co-founded with Sam Chaplin of the band Maxi’s World.
“This kind of all started with being really supportive of the shows I was booking and wanting to help out,” Chaplin said in the interview. “I feel like we’re excited by the same things.”
While studying at Smith College, Walsh connected with like-minded peers and found the perfect spaces to express their ideas about gender in pop culture.
As a contributor for The Media (fvckthemedia.com), they covered a panel discussion called “‘Is She Really a Musician?’ Navigating Identity and Authenticity in Music & Media,” featuring Imogen Binnie, Suzy Exposito, Mitski Miyawaki and Meredith Graves, with moderation by Chaplin. The event was organized by Potty Mouth’s Ally Einbinder.
In Walsh’s review, they noted a discussion about how the validity of a person’s taste and aesthetic can be called into question depending on the person’s race and gender.
“White folks, especially white men, are given the most room to stumble and reinvent themselves,” Walsh wrote in the article. “…The idea that when a white man asserts that he is a fan of a certain band, his authenticity will likely not be called into question. Women, on the other hand, are tested and re-tested and then ultimately often discredited.”
In their music with DUMP HIM, Walsh armors casual musings with the unmerciful pummeling of punk rock, subverting the genre that is often paired with the image of a reckless, straight, white male. The Ramones, who many associate with the birth of American punk, are known for singing “beat on the brat with a baseball bat, oh yeah!” But Walsh’s lyrics are introspective and self-effacing.
“I wanna be pretty like a boy but I’m not,” they sing in unsteady monotone over a racing beat on a 2017 recording of “pretty like a boy.” “I have no concept of what’s good, it’s so unusual.”
Perhaps the patriarchal mass media has taught us to question our own authenticity, from beauty to personal taste. Instead of completely shutting out the sounds, why not reinvent them? And Walsh’s rebellion is not just confined to punk music either.
On an early DUMP HIM demo, Walsh covers Katy Perry’s breakout hit, “I Kissed A Girl.” The cover’s low production value paired with the hollow sounds of acoustic guitar scratch up the glossy track, stripping it down to its message. But more importantly, Walsh amends the lyrics.
“I kissed a girl and I liked it, I’m dumping my fucking boyfriend!” Walsh sings, yelling the swear for emphasis. “I fucking hate men now!” Of course, there is some laughter on the track, too, as Walsh recorded the song casually with their friend Max.
Through DUMP HIM, Walsh expounds the evils of a queer-blind mass media, but with music that is fun and unpretentious, giving audiences the impromptu jolt they so desire in a live show. After all, no one wants to have a scholastic experience while attending a concert. Least of all Walsh.
“I’m a true slack motherfucker,” Walsh said in a Dig Boston interview about balancing college with band practice. Would Walsh bring homework on tour? Hell no.
“I’m a last-minute schoolwork kinda dude and get distracted way too easily,” they said.
But Walsh’s cool responses may be part of their public persona, separate from their true bookish nature. Upon graduation in May, Walsh was one of Smith College’s library staff members who was honored by The Friends of the Libraries with a special book plate placed in a book of their choice.
Walsh chose the text “Disavowals: or Cancelled Confessions” by the 20th century queer French writer and photographer Claude Cahun, whose birth name was Lucy Schwob. Like Walsh, who was formerly called Jaclyn, Cahun changed her name to pursue authenticity in her persona and art.
“The text calls into question concepts of fixed gender identity and self-knowledge, and is not beholden to any notion of truthfulness,” reads the book’s introduction.
Many of Cahun’s entries are candid, passionate poems; ruminations on the purposes of art and storytelling.
“Art is the very greatest morose delight / A sad and tender attempt to immortalise our pleasures, to remember passing love,” Cahun wrote.
Perhaps art is about preserving the memory of relationships.
In a related vein, DUMP HIM’s excellent song, “Route One, Saugus,” was written for old friends who live across the state.
“This song is about being bad at keeping everyone in touch, and missing everyone all the time,” DUMP HIM wrote in an article for The Media.
DUMP HIM features Walsh (vocals, guitar), Larz Brogan (vocals, drums), Otto Klammer (bass) and Ian St George (lead guitar). Hear their music at https://dumphim.bandcamp.com.
Other bands to be featured at Sunday’s concert are opener Pink Navel, as well as headliners Cerce and I Kill Giants. The show will be held at the Sinclair on Sunday, June 10 at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $13-$15 at www.boweryboston.com and all ages are welcome.
A portion of the proceeds from this show will be donated to the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, which “has been working to end sexual violence through healing and social change,” according to the organization’s website, barcc.org.
Author’s contact: [email protected]