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Chris Taylor really wants you to know something: He’s in bed, wearing only underwear, next to a large, hairy male with beautiful green eyes. And it’s his cat.
He’s sick on this particular afternoon, just over a week before his band – local electro-dance makers (the) fundamentalists – perform at Motor City Pride, and he has a hunch that this bout of bronchitis has been making its group rounds. Could be since he, Angie “Wings” Miller and Oscar Alejandro perform in a dinky practice area set up in Taylor’s Ferndale home. But at least new music’s finally on the way, as they prepare to release the tentatively titled “Agenda” in, they hope, September.
“I’m guessing it will be similar to what we put out in 2006 (“Exiles in Clubland”), a collection of things – up-tempo stuff and slow creepy-crawly things,” Taylor says, then explaining the name with a walloping laugh:
“Because everybody always talks about the ‘gay agenda,’ so we thought, well, our agenda is to make you think and maybe make you move your ass.”
Look to do both when (the) fundamentalists take the stage during Pride at 3 p.m. June 6, which makes this the band’s 10th year playing gay festivals. In 2000, the group – with a different name (The Crucible) and lineup, Taylor being the exception – performed at their first local Pride, then in Royal Oak. The gig was also their first live outing – ever.
“It was funny because some other gal in another band, we were talking backstage, and she said, ‘This is the first gig you’ve ever played? There’s like 2,000 people here! I would never do that to myself,'” Taylor recalls. But he wasn’t anxious, just on a total high the entire time. It helped that queer-punk band Pansy Division was there, too.
“They were really down to earth,” Taylor says. “The only thing I regret was that I didn’t bring my Pansy Division CDs because I didn’t want to look like a geek.”
(the) fundamentalists will get their Pride fill this year when they play not only Motor City’s, but also West Michigan’s and the Metra Picnic. The band hopes their music – described as “queerwave dance-rock,” and never square – resonates with whomever’s listening, especially youngsters looking for a sound that’s all their own.
“There was nothing on the musical landscape (where) I grew up in this tiny town Up North,” Taylor remembers. “All the music was heavy metal, country or Top-40 crap that meant very little to me as a gay person. When I wanted to get this band started, I said I wanted to do stuff that was genuine. And everybody in the band is on the same page.”
Taylor also wants your underwear. He jokingly quips, “I will say that we’re a little disappointed that no one’s thrown underwear – jock straps or bras. We always tell them, ‘Bring underwear to throw. And if it’s dirty, throw it at Angie.'”
She’s single, whereas Taylor and Alejandro are both partnered. Their relationships, or lack thereof, are the muse for “Agenda.” “We’re working on one song now about the end of a relationship, and a lot of our songs do tend to do deal with relationships coming to an end, which I guess probably says something about us as individuals,” he says, laughing.
The end of Taylor’s relationship with Jim Marker in 2007, four years after they launched the official fundamentalists, and Marker’s decision to leave the group is what led Taylor to his new bandmates (Miller’s a longtime friend, and he met Alejandro while volunteering at Affirmations Gay and Lesbian Community Center in Ferndale). After their split, Taylor considered going solo, but says he would’ve missed working with a team: “It’s more fun being in a band. It’s not about one person; it’s about the music.”
Music that he began making some 20 years ago, with many band-name changes and member swaps since. The latest trio – with a fourth on the way – shares many of the same smorgasbord of musical influences: The Cure, Melissa Etheridge, Depeche Mode, Black Sabbath and Sam Cooke.
If there’s been a lot of shake-ups in Taylor’s band over the last couple of decades, some thing’s never change: They’re still as gay as ever.
“For the past 20-something years, that’s been my goal,” Taylor says. “We ran into this so often, especially when I lived in Saginaw and I was trying to get this going: Somebody would be like, ‘I’m cool being in a gay band,’ and then it would be time to perform somewhere, and they’d be like, ‘Oh, I don’t want somebody thinking I’m gay.'”
Now he doesn’t have to worry.
“We don’t have to change pronouns or any of that,” he says, happily. “It’s just more real for me. For everybody.”
Motor City Pride, Main Stage
3-4 p.m. June 6