Hazy Eye Music Media is proud to post another interview in a series of interviews I’m currently conducting with some of my favorite artists. I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone and have begun picking the brains of some phenomenal musicians. This time I, Andy Jillson, was fortunate enough to interview Garrett Ficacci of The Gay Agenda.
The Gay Agenda is a “homo riot hardcore punk outfit” from San Diego, CA. According to Ficacci, “The band was the brainchild of David Hurtt from some years ago, wanting to create heavy punk music while being unapologetically, irreverently, and identifiably queer.” They formed in 2017, released a self-titled EP in 2018, and now they’ve released their first full-length album. Their album Penetrating was released in June 2020 via La Escalera Records, preceded by a single for “Homo Riot” featuring Justin Pearson (Locust, Retox, and Dead Cross). Their debut album is provocatively titled Penetrating (and has equally provocative cover art). Continue reading below for my full interview with Garrett Ficacci. All images copyright and courtesy of Becky DiGiglio and The Gay Agenda.
AJ: Well, hello there! How are you?!?
GF: As well as a couple of queers can be during these crazy ass times.
AJ: For those readers who may not know, can you tell us a little bit about who you are, types of music you play, and what instruments you play? How would you describe yourself and what you do as The Gay Agenda?
GF: I mean, we’re mainly a bunch of desk jockeys that play in this band. Matt (guitar), David (vocals) and I (Garrett on bass) all rock a 9-5 weekend warrior gig, but are also just a bunch of nerds/fags (mostly)/music enthusiasts/bar-goers. We’ve all been in to some kind of hardcore, punk or metal at one point or another, so the music we play together already fit.
AJ: Can you tell us about your band, The Gay Agenda? When and how was the group formed?
GF: We’re an unapologetically queer wall of noise that mixes in a bunch of punk, grind, hardcore, thrash, etc in to whatever it is that ends up on stage and on recording. David had an idea to start the band after he had discovered Limp Wrist and was joined by Matt, who were long time friends. Luis joined later on and I followed in 4th later on down the line.
AJ: Can you describe the bands look, sound, recording process, and what the live performances are like?
GF: The look has kind of evolved over the years and I think it always will. We decided that after a little trial house show that we did in my parents house, that we needed to really match a look to the already punchy gay-ness of the music. We all pieced together some strappy leather, denim, makeup, etc and put on a crazy, sweaty, noisy performance. For recording, we really wanted to make it as close as possible to listening to our live shows as possible, so we mic’d everything up in our practice space, spent hours there banging out songs, changed some levels and called it a day.
AJ: Why name your band The Gay Agenda? Is there a concept behind the band/name? What’s the significance?
GF: David had been throwing around a couple of band name ideas to Matt when they first started to seriously talk about getting it all together. When David mentioned The Gay Agenda, Matt thought back to his dad freaking out about “the liberal gay agenda conspiracy” which made for a good poke at the paranoid conservative types.
AJ: What was it like collaborating w/ Justin Pearson on your song, “Homo Riot?” How did you end up working w/ him? Any future plans to collaborate w/ him or other Three One G recording artists?
GF: So Justin had come to a few shows of ours prior to us asking him to guest on “Homo Riot” and we had also seen him around town. We had talked a few times about maybe playing shows together with one of his newer projects (Deaf Club) and eventually asked if we wanted to be part of the album. He said yes and the rest was history. It would be rad to work with some more artists, but I think having JP on board was kind of a “Hey that sounds rad, lets see if he’ll do it.”
AJ: Any news/updates about The Gay Agenda you’re able to share?
GF: Nothing new yet. We’re always working on new stuff, but of course with COVID, shows are stopped, rehearsals we’re keeping to a minimum, so on and so forth. Its a bummer, but we gotta ride it out. The physical copy of Penetrating is gonna be out REALLY soon though. (Go pre-order!!!)
AJ: Can you tell us more about the new album, Penetrating? When and where was it recorded? Any other artists featured on the new album?
GF: Penetrating is actually an accumulation of songs we have had for a some time now that we hadn’t released on our EP. When we started writing some new stuff like “Cartilaginous” (I’m not typing out that whole name), a re-write of an older song “Sidewalk Sale,” and “Masculinity Is A Prison,” we figured we should finally track it. We got together May of last year, got Ed Talorda to record/mix/master it all and played all the songs we figured would be good on the album. All live, a few takes for some songs, some more than others. It was exhausting, but it’s what we all wanted.
AJ: How have you been staying active/keeping yourself busy since coronavirus altered our world?
GF: It’s rough to stay active with everyone trying to keep their families and each other safe. We get together occasionally to practice and throw out new ideas, but not nearly as much as before this mess. We keep in contact to keep ourselves updated on interviews, album printing updates, sales, or just regular friend shit to make sure we’re all still well.
AJ: Other than the release of the new album, have you written any other music or worked on any other projects during 2020?
GF: David is currently working on a new project with a few of our good friends in bands like Oh Cult, Secret Fun Club, and Modern Love. They were supposed to be playing their first show this past April, but alas. I can guarantee you that when it gets started, it’s gonna rip.
AJ: When and where was the last show you played? What do you remember about it? Anything particularly interesting about your most recent live performance?
GF: The last show we played was at Til-Two Club here in SD with Rival Squad and Matt Caskitt & The Breaks. It was actually a really rad show to play because all the proceeds went to Team Cretins for the AIDS Life Cycle. Can’t say much more than we played with some good buddies and for a good cause.
AJ: I mainly cover shows in DC, MD, and VA; and most of my readers attend shows in the DMV. Any particular shows and/or venues in this area you’re fond of? Any good memories or stories from DC, MD, or VA?
GF: We haven’t been out east at all yet, but we’re certainly looking forward to coming out and jamming with you guys.
AJ: What have you been listening to? Any particular artists and/or albums you’ve recently discovered or rediscovered?
GF: We are all very different in our music tastes. I know for me, David introduced me to the early early EARLY Ministry album With Sympathy, which is some of the gayest new wave shit I’ve heard since Dead or Alive, and I’ve been all about it. I’ve also be throwing on new DGD, Phoebe Bridgers, the classics from Dangers and Neutral Milk Hotel. I’m a sponge for whatever sounds good to me in that moment.
AJ: What are your best memories/proudest moments of being a musician?
GF: For me it’s finally getting on stage after multiple shows and being comfortable there. I’ve never played live with any band that I started, so this is new for me other than karaoke. I can put on a show, but now that it’s OUR music being put out there and not my drunken ass trying to sing a Stevie Nicks song, there’s a little bit more pressure to be good for the band and for our audience. Now it’s my second home. It’s an incredible feeling.
AJ: Most embarrassing and/or awkward moments playing live?
GF: I can’t say that I’ve had any that were terribly embarrassing. I’ve almost fallen off stage, but caught myself like a champ. I feel like with live performances, there’s always gonna be SOMETHING wrong, so just own it and brush it off.
AJ: Can you name a couple of your favorite bands you’ve been on tour with or played shows with?
GF: We haven’t been on tour, but out of the bands we’ve played with (I can name plenty): Flaunt, Christ Killer, All Beat Up, Oh Cult, Secret Fun Club, Deaf Club, New Crimes, Modern Love, and Vertigoat. I could sit here and name off all of our friends bands that absolutely shred, but it would never be enough praise for these bad asses that have helped us out.
AJ: If you could collaborate w/ a few musicians of choice, who would it be?
GF: I think my #1 choice would be the baddest lady in punk, Alice Bag. I’ve met her a few times and she is such a rad woman and is really inspirational for me as a queer artist. Same thing goes for Martin Sorrendeguy and the boys from Limp Wrist. Incredible musicians that I would die to call friends.
AJ: Any advice for struggling musicians?
GF: Struggle if it makes you happy. I’m doing this shit because I love it, not for the fame or the cash. Not a whole lot of money to be made in queercore as it is, but who cares? If getting up on stage and walking away with drink tickets and some merch sales is enough for you, fucking do it.
AJ: Any advice for artists/musicians in the LGBTQ community?
GF: DO IT! PLAY MUSIC!!! We need more representation in music as a whole. Eventually people are gonna have to realize that “queer” isn’t just a shtick and that we’re making music for our LGBTQIA+ family and whoever else likes it.
AJ: Anything you want to add to the interview? Any final words for the readers?
GF: Thank you. Seriously. It’s been unreal to get any recognition at all and I can’t express how cool its been to share this gay shit with you.
AJ: Thanks for your time! I look forward to seeing The Gay Agenda perform live sometime in the near future. Fin.
Much gratitude and respect for Garrett Ficacci and all the members of The Gay Agenda. Hazy Eye Music Media appreciates their willingness and openness. Check out The Gay Agenda bandcamp!