Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party Are Here to Emancipate You From Yourself
Scott Wood Asks the Questions and Doesn't Get Any Straight Answers
When I told my friends that we were heading to the Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party (TLGLTP or just Topless) album release party, my pals were certain that the night would be full of beautiful shirtless muscle dudes grinding each other to house music. As awesome as that sounds, they couldn’t be more wrong.
TLGLTP is not a new club night at your favorite gay bar. They are an indie electro-rock outfit and one of the Vancouver music scene’s best kept secrets. Here’s how the band describes themselves: “Lush multi-layered synth arrangements, thick bass lines, and catchy guitars run Topless through the gamut of electro, dance and glam pop. Hooky vocals elevate their songs to anthemic heights. The lyrics, often ironic and kitsch, strike at the heart of young relationships, partying and friendship.”
Topless shows have become legendary for their explosive use of glitter. The album release party was no exception. My friends spent the next couple of days finding glitter stuck in their hair.
I managed to track down TLGLTP’s Benny Schuetze (drums, guitar, keys, vocals), so we could chat and Vancouver’s gold spandex wearing glam rockers can get a little more “rockignition.”
Scott Wood: I've read the core of TLGLTP formed in Scotland, broke up and moved to Russia, and then reformed in Vancouver of all places. What got you back together in our beautiful small town? (And please correct any of the details if I've got them incorrect!)
Benny Schuetze: Reality and fiction is a Robin Thicke “Blurred Line” we love cultivating. Russia, though not really in the band’s biography, symbolizes the cultural isolation that is sometimes needed to properly incubate an original artistic idea. No we never went to Russia, but since Russia does not look too fondly on Gay Propaganda (something we happily get misconstrued as being), the musical inspiration we get from our imaginary time there is invaluable.Reality and fiction is a Robin Thicke "Blurred Line" we love cultivating.
Vancouver has always been the home of Top Less, even if it's two originators and masterminds had to go to Glasgow and Russia to synthesize the elixir which we would sprinkle over our manifesto.
Scott Wood: You've said you found the rest of the band at a "garage sale." Can you talk about what the others bring to the band?
Benny Schuetze: Lucas, Sean, and Ian were playing in a Christian Youth Outreach band called No Homo - Pro Bono who would tour rural BC towns advocating for anyone who'd listen against homosexuality in general. As the second part of their name suggested, they would not accept any donations or payment. Donne and Michael “discovered” them while getting arrested playing outside a Chilliwack Community Centre Hamper Drive and saw real talent underneath their misguided message. They liberated the three, spending several years re-integrating them into modern society and teaching them about rock and roll and why donuts bumping on donuts isn't such a bad thing after all. Benny and Kevin answered a Craigslist ad selling a couch, came to agreed location and were drugged and have been playing with the band for 3 years against their will, being kept submissive on a high dose of ketamine and Saturday morning cartoons.
Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party - the name says it all
Scott Wood: I went to your record release party—Congrats on the self-titled release BTW! When I told everyone I went to see Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party, everyone assumed that I was going to a gay bar. Nothing wrong with that—of course!—but it does cause some confusion about what you guys are and what the band is about... So can you talk about the name and why you chose it?
Benny Schuetze: The name came originally from a misheard Mariah Carey lyric. Kidding. But the idea for the name and what it symbolizes to the band has something to do with emancipation from ourselves and the gender and sexuality distinctions that are so important in our society. It is something we bring to our music and something we bring to the live show: people can relax take off their shirts and become somebody else, or maybe finally themselves. We wear costumes and put on sparkly make up to help us and everyone let their guard down and let the gay in all of us out.
Scott Wood: "Top Less" in the name rather than "Topless" implies gay sex with no tops. (A top being the giver in a penetrative sexual act.) Mistake or intentional?
Benny Schuetze: Not intentional. But not a mistake. I think it fits well with our MO. We aren't here to fuck anyone into liking our music with our authority meat poles. But we would rather proffer our peaceful man (and woman) flowers with patience, generosity, and trust for your consensual and safe enjoyment.
I really make 'tops' look bad in this and end up painting a bit of a hetero-normative picture of gay sex, but it's just to prove a point. Wait, what was the question?We aren't here to fuck anyone into liking our music with our authority meat poles. But we would rather proffer our peaceful man (and woman) flowers with patience, generosity, and trust for your consensual and safe enjoyment.
Scott Wood: How hard is it to effectively mix being subversive with unabashed hedonism in song and performance?
Benny Schuetze: I think the two can be the same. I think the most pervasive acts of subversion are always those that play into the enacting a liberation of some sort. Breaking a taboo, or speaking out politically. I don't really think we are very subversive though. Glitter is really what gets us into the most trouble, and that could be viewed as a passive and petty act of vandalism at best.
Scott Wood: Your shows are legendary for their explosive use of glitter. At the record release party before you guys went on, you had glitter-bombed the audience. One stunned dude wandered past me nonchalantly explaining, "Some dude just plastered me." There was also confetti and a balloon drop. No one can deny how wonderful it makes the show. What is your glitter budget for the show? Do you tip the poor guy/girl that has to clean up all that?
Benny Schuetze: We've gotten into a bunch of trouble for this. We've sort of stopped glittering from the stage—we've incurred fines, and have been barred from venues for wrecking their monitors and for making an uncleanable mess on the carpets—but I’m glad that the sentiment has stuck and people continue the tradition with only a little bit of encouragement from us. Confetti and balloons are a good compromise on our side. Still messy, but not as herpes like as the glitter. Although our greenroom is still a nightmare after a show. I'm not sure what it all costs, but the confetti that comes out of the cannons is like 30 bucks a bag, special light weight, floaty, magical confetti.
Scott Wood: What's the weirdest place you've made out with someone?
Benny Schuetze: I've had sex on a blow-up dingy in the middle of a busy lake once. I've never made out though, if that's what you’re asking. I go straight from first gear into 5th. From a handshake straight to sexy time. But I can't speak for the others.
Scott Wood: You guys aren't technically a homegrown band. Canadians tend to favor artists from outside Canada first, and sadly sometimes ignore awesome home-grown acts. What are your thoughts on this? Who's a Vancouver band that people don’t talk about enough?
Benny Schuetze: Hard to say. Again I would say we are a homegrown band. A lot of the people we've come up around have paid their dues and are getting rockagnized, which is amazing. We are big fans of Bear Mountain (Ian, our bassist is the lead singer in that band). Shad and Belle Game are two others, but they are all starting to do pretty well. If anything I would say "us." We are the homegrown band and we would love to get some more attention.
Canada puts out some amazing music, Montreal famously, but Vancouver more and more. I can never understand the people that say that we don't have a scene here. Get off your couch. Rent an accordion. Make a scene you fat fuck.We wear costumes and put on sparkly make up to help us and everyone let their guard down and let the gay in all of us out.
Scott Wood: My favorite TLGLTP track is "Robin." The lyrics go "My German friend…/He said let's have a threesome/We can go halfers on the consequence…" In the TLGLTP ultra-sex positive world, what are the consequences of a threesome?
Benny Schuetze: I guess I could say, “Crabs. Chlamydia. Herpes. AIDS, if you're really unlucky. Do we really want to be having this conversation?” Or I could answer “I've never had a threesome and personally would be terrified at the prospect.”
Scott Wood: Who is the most fuckable member of the band and why?
Benny Schuetze: Heavy Kevvy wins by a landslide. Kevvy when he's prancing around the stage wearing nothing but a Hello Kitty guitar is pure sex. Although he's naughty and flirty, he'd be a caring lover too. He'd be really good at hosting an orgy, I think. When we're playing on stage, he'll come over and check in with you. Stand in front of you, making eye contact playing some slutty guitar lick and thrusting his pelvis at you. Then he runs off and jumps off of an amp or does some crazy stage dive onto an inflatable whale-shaped beach toy. He's also one of the nicest human beings on the planet. I'd fuck Kevin in a heartbeat.
But I think we're all fuckable, and by this I just mean we all think we're all fuckable. Everyone in the band genuinely loves each other. At the end of the day, I think this is what makes us a listenable and watchable band.
Scott Wood: Please introduce your favorite TLGLTP video!
Benny Schuetze: Well we only have two videos and I'm biased to “Danger Love” as it features Eurythmie, a form of interpretive movement I practiced at my Waldorf School growing up in Germany.
“Robin” is a really fun video too though and I think really is a great companion piece to the song. It really gets at the spirit of the song and the feeling of the band.
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