Mixing different types of performing arts can yield amazing results. For example, the wildly popular Hamilton flawlessly combines hip-hop, musical theater, and autobiography. Particularly, art forms that share similar attitudes and theses integrate well and frequently cross over. The most immediate example that comes to mind is spoken word and hip-hop: many modern rappers, such as Watsky and Rafael Casal, come from a slam poetry background. (It’s also why I can regularly crash CalSLAM open mics without seeming out of place.) But what happens when you mash up slam poetry, comedy, and rock ‘n’ roll?
You might just get The Wyatt Act. They’re a unique band with a distinct sound and character, electrifying performances, and interdisciplinary roots. To dig deeper into the origins and influences of the “high-energy, experimental slamrock band”, I interviewed frontwoman Guinevere Q (No Big Fucking Deal), who shared with me the secrets of the band’s very own hybrid genre.
Street-corner style poetry meets transgressive rock.
SLAMROCK MANIFESTO: SlamRock is a philosophy, a lifestyle, an attitude, a swagger. SlamRock is a reaction to a society of detached, automatic, alienated, civilized play-acts. SlamRock values process over product and interaction over isolation.
3 Principles of SlamRock:
– Put on a fucking show!
You used to be a poet. What inspired you to become a musician? How do you think slam poetry influences your music?
I’m still guilty of being a poet. Haven’t found a cure for that yet, I’m afraid. We play Poetry Rock & Roll – SLAMROCK! When The Wyatt Act first started, I would perform poetry over music. We needed a bass player, so I learned bass. Since then, we’ve evolved our sound, but we still take a lyric-centric approach to songwriting.
In the line of combining slam poetry and rock, what other types of performing arts would you like to see mashed together?
Jason Young Sun and I both grew up in musical theater. We absolutely adore stories, characters, and theatrical elements on stage! Breakfast and Karissa met through playing together in the Brass Liberation Orchestra (San Francisco’s Protest Brass Band) and have always been dedicated to social justice and political causes. Together, we draw on our shared passion for musical theater, activism, and poetry combined with rock & roll!
The Wyatt Act repertoire spans such riveting titles as “20 Motherfuckers”, “Acid and Fapping”, and “What’s In Your Butt?”. What’s your creative process for writing these crazy songs, and where do you get your inspiration?
20 Motherfuckers is a response to the housing crisis in
the San Francisco Bay Area.
Acid and Fapping is about LSD and masturbation. It’s based on a true story.
What’s In Your Butt was composed as a group collaboration up in Lake County with our friend and visionary, Brian Ward, who organizes wild musical games with themes like “Sonic Liberation” and “Freak Power”.
Your shows are heavily themed. You inaugurated everyone on stage on January 20th, and you’re doing a House Meeting complete with roommate interviews on March 23d. What moves you to run shows this way?
I’ve been hosting Open Mics for a little over 10 years. I’ve always really enjoyed “theme nights” at Open Mics. It really draws in the community in fun and surprising ways! We started creating themed shows back in August of 2015 to involve the audience and throw a party. We self-produce events, not just shows. For example, we have prizes and games. We love games! Some of my favorites have included “Musical BattleDecks” – a wild improv show where members of the audience volunteer to deliver a PowerPoint presentation from projected slides that nobody’s ever seen before. We improvise music. People win prizes. It’s hilarious. Another was my birthday party, “Everybody’s a Stripper” where we played songs while audience members took turns stripping and spinning on the pole at the Condor Club. It was amazing.
What’s in store for The Wyatt Act this year? What tricks do you have up your sleeve moving forward?
We recently recorded some new songs. We will be releasing them as soon as they’re mixed and mastered and rubbed with lotion. We’re also excited to be raising money for the San Francisco Tenants Union at 8pm on March 23rd at PianoFight for our special “House Meeting” show with Roommate Interviews! We’re honored to share the stage with Van Goat and Northern Waste. We’ll also have a Housing Rights Lawyer providing actual advice, a chore wheel, and, of course, prizes and games! Starting this Spring, we’ll begin self-producing live-streamed shows with local comedians at Mutiny Radio. The first one will be “Mutual Masterdebates” on April 8th. The audience throws topics into a bucket. Comedians debate the topics. We play music. Of course, there will be prizes. It’s going to be hilarious! We love comedians, especially Pamatastic, former poet and current comedian/owner of Mutiny Radio. Pamtastic once said, “comedians are poets that people actually listen to.” That quote has always stuck with me. We hope to be poetry musicians people laugh with.