The raw honesty of Laura Jane Grace

laura jane grace seated with guitar, photo by travis shinn
Photo Credit: Travis Shinn

Laura Jane Grace has been a prominent member of the punk scene for more than two decades now. Whether as the lead singer of Against Me! or through her solo career, she has made her mark when it comes to politically charged music. This past February, she released her latest album Hole in My Head.

Against Me! has been on hiatus since 2020, but Grace started her solo career while still with the band. Grace plays guitar and drums on her latest album, while Matt Patton of Drive-By Truckers played bass. Hole in My Head explores dealing with the post pandemic world, as well as the state of punk music.

laura jane grace album cover hole in my head

“If you have the chance to yell ‘Punk is dead!’ on a record, you absolutely need to take that chance,” Grace tells Kerrang!. “I got that chance, and y’know what? I took it!”

She continues, “Maybe subconsciously I’m suggesting that it’s time we open up that debate again and talk about whether or not punk is dead. Maybe we need to ask ourselves again whether punk is still relevant. To me, it’s always been what you make of it. At its best, punk is rad people doing radical things, and that’s when punk can become a revolutionary force.”

Watching and partaking in the different phases of punk music, while also dealing with her own identity crisis, helped Grace in writing this latest collection of songs. Most of the album was written in St. Louis after feeling the burn-out of touring.

“I went through the same period of wondering, ‘Who am I now?’ and, ‘How does this world work for me now?’ that I think everyone did,” she explains. “I found a building that was just sitting empty, and it was a studio that had recording history, and took a chance on it.”

Finding a new lease on life is nothing new for Grace. Her transition has always been very public. She came out publicly in a Rolling Stone interview in 2012. Two years later, Against Me! put out an album called Transgender Dysphoria Blues. And in 2016 she wrote an autobiography called Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout, going into great detail about her struggles and self-loathing leading up to her coming out.

She’s always been very up front about her life and feelings as a person.

“Before I transitioned I just wouldn’t say anything, because there was so much dysphoria with knowing what the expectations were — knowing what people expected of a male front singer,” explained Grace in a 2016 interview in The Cut. “You know, getting up there and being like, ‘All right, motherfuckers — you ready to go?’ Or some crap like that. That wasn’t me, and the idea of having to fill that role was crushing to me, and it got to the point where being onstage I didn’t know who I was. So to have that gone, and to have that block lifted…when I get onstage now, I’m just me. And I talk when I have something to say, and I’m comfortable, and it’s so much more fun.”

Punk music has always been about rejecting conformity or authoritarianism, and while there are different branches of punk – new wave, hardcore, even folk punk – at its core is honesty. No phoniness or pretending to be something you’re not. The raw honesty about what you’re feeling is what draws listeners to the music.

Laura Jane Grace has always been honest about her life and beliefs. She just happens to write songs about it sometimes.

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