How does a band break-out these days? There’s all kinds of things that can act as a catalyst – but eventually the music has to stand on its own two feet. Queen Zee & The Sasstones have an important story to tell, but they’re not going to whisper it in your ear. These agit-punks know there’s only one thing worse than being talked about, but they also know the tunes have to break down walls, too. By Alan O’Hare. 

It’s there in the devastating guitar riff that opens the song and runs through the chorus. It’s there in that perfectly placed bass run that signals something big is coming around the corner. It’s there in those loud and proud rhyming couplets that demand your attention. It’s pop music, it’s alive and well in Queen Zee & The Sasstones’ new single, ‘Boy’, and it comes in many colours.

A bit like this band. Look again at the picture above: it’s so loud, you can barely hear the music playing in the video below. The bubblegum punks from Birkenhead are bursting through Liverpool’s guitar-shaped glass ceiling and people are beginning to sit up and take notice. “They’re urgent, visceral and vehement,” declared Clash Magazine, Radio 1 have predicted “a lot of noise” and, just this week, the group were announced for Reading and Leeds Festival. “The Sass Gang won’t be pulling any punches at Reading and Leeds,” says singer, Zee. “You are what you are and we should celebrate that, not tear it down.” ‘Boy’ celebrates that with a lyric that is as bold as it is beautiful: “… you can try and bury my head in the sand, but that won’t make the body at the surface a man’s” it goes.

“It’s an outsider anthem about how people are so eager to make you into what they want you to be,” declares Zee. “Whether that’s your gender or sexuality or just how you dress.” How the band dress and all the attention that comes with it would stand on quicksand if the music didn’t hit you where it hurts, though. Fortunately, ‘Boy’ isn’t out on its own and tunes such as the howling guitar fest of ‘Sissy Fits’ and the melodic alt-anthem-in-waiting ‘Sass Or Die’ (complete with stand-out spoken-word section) all bode well for the forthcoming ‘Eat My Sass’ EP.

“We live in a world of social media and everyone’s identity has become a brand image of themselves,” says Zee. “We have a lot of fun with that and try to represent the darker side to it all.” There’s light and shade in the music. Sure, it’s gut-bucket punk full of noise and confusion, but it’s also as cerebral as Buzzcocks and as catchy as Nirvana. Whisper it quietly (one of The Sasstones is called Courtney H8), but there’s also a few of Hole’s doll parts in there, too, alongside all the fuzz and fuck you.

The songs and shows might currently invite you along for the ride, but you’re going to have to hold on tight if you want to keep up with Queen Zee & The Sasstones.

‘Eat My Sass’ EP will be released on Nice Swan Records in September

Queen Zee & The Sasstones
Saturday September 23rd 2017, 8pm
Sound Basement, Duke Street, Liverpool

Pic by Jazamin Sinclair