By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
SAMSON: We spent a lot of money on a concept that was very elaborate for the record cover, and it looked horrible. What ended up on the cover was a press shot. We spent the money, but the concept didn't work, so that was another shot that we took that day, and Kathleen was, "This is the cover of the record!" and I thought it was real nice. I mean, it looks good. I think we all look really good.
It was me and Jo and Kathleen — at the end of Le Tigre we all sang the same amount of songs in the show. Definitely Kathleen started singing less live and also Jo and me wrote a lot more on This Island than we had previously, so it ended up working out that way.
I feel like [since the hiatus started] I'm kind of in the public a little bit more and go out around the world and party and stuff, just socially, and I think that I really worked really hard to make myself visible for lesbians, and that was really, really important to me and I've worked really hard to do that, I made a calendar and I was ... I was obviously putting myself out there to be both admired and hated.
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SAMSON: Yeah, but it's OK. It's what happens when you do that.
I think the Internet has been weird. It's been really rough. Seriously, even last week or two weeks ago I did an interview with the New York magazine blog and the comments — I haven't read comments in a really long time, which I feel lucky about. But I started reading and seriously, there were, like, 50 comments about how ugly I was, if I was a boy or a girl, that my answers were boring ...
Seriously, everyone was talking about, "What gender is this person," "This person's so ugly," and I couldn't believe it, I posted it on Twitter like, "This is ridiculous, look how people can be on the Internet," and of course next thing that happened was this huge conversation between all of my fans and the people that were writing in to New York magazine.
But I was shocked. It's still there.
Do you still think about a utopia where your identity can be protected?
SAMSON: I feel like we have a great community, we have great fans, people who come to our show are people that are supportive of us and know what we look like and who we are, but I do think the Internet is full of people who can say whatever they want and that's the only thing that's still really hard.
BROOKS TAKAHASHI: Do we still need to have places that are separate? A really good example would be we played in Canada in Waterloo recently ...
SAMSON: Oh my God, yeah ...
BROOKS TAKAHASHI: It was the second time we played in this town and we were doing costumes that were "naked" — JD was wearing a suit that was painted naked, but Michael and I were basically naked, and people were freaking out, and luckily we couldn't hear them because the music was so loud but people were yelling and they were upset and they were scared but they were also obsessed with what was happening. I could tell they were looking at us in this way.
These were fans who had paid to come and see you?
O'NEILL: No, the thing was that there was a paid entry and then halfway into our set it just became a bar night. People were coming in who weren't necessarily there to see us.
SAMSON: At the end of the night we had to call security.
BROOKS TAKAHASHI: They called the cops and these guys were chasing us down the road ...
O'NEILL: But in a weird way, because they were obsessed with JD. It was these big, beefy jock dudes who were, "I just wanna shake hands with the li'l man. I just wanna shake hands."
O'NEILL: They were obviously curious, but they didn't know how to relate to that feeling.
BROOKS TAKAHASHI: And then at the other end of the spectrum, this summer we played at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, which is a lesbian utopia, only for women, so I do think these kinds of spaces are still valid.
SAMSON: This year Tender Forever played, and there are some hip-hop acts. Tender Forever is the closest to us. A lot of folk stuff, the Indigo Girls played ...
BROOKS TAKAHASHI: It was pure love, it was insane. Intergenerational, everybody was dancing.
By the mid 2000s, the influence of Le Tigre, especially in terms of pioneering a kind of new, overtly feminist dance music that was both unabashedly hedonistic and politically engaged, had spawned tremendously successful acts. It wouldn't be perverse to draw a line from the Slits, to Bikini Kill, to Le Tigre, to Peaches, all the way to the present mainstreaming of some of those gestures through the controversial Lady Gaga. About the latter, Samson is studiously guarded:
SAMSON: In almost every interview I do, people talk about Lady Gaga, which is so weird. Every journalist. It's pretty interesting because people really want you to talk bad about other women artists.