‘If it’s not something that burns in your blood, then it’s just a hobby’: Punk poet Lydia Lunch is coming our way

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‘If it’s not something that burns in your blood, then it’s just a hobby’: Punk poet Lydia Lunch is coming our way

lydia lunch
words by Luke Carlino

The Queen of no wave, Lydia Lunch, heads to Melbourne Recital Centre with Joseph Keckler for the Tales of Lust and Madness Australian debut.

Lydia Lunch, the poet, actor, and self-empowerment guru, is an underground punk legend. From her famous appearance on Sonic Youth’s Death Valley ’69 to the Rowland S. Howard collaboration Shotgun Wedding, Lunch has been involved with more than her fair share of legendary, cult, punk awesomeness.

She has made a career out of speaking her mind, oftentimes quite loudly, and is once again heading to Australia to remind us that the war is not over (her mantra).

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Speaking of Rowland S. Howard, Lunch feels that Joseph Keckler, her tour buddy for the upcoming run, has a similar sort of vibe to Melbourne’s own punk legend.

“In a sense, something about his sensitivity and romanticism is similar. I’m coming to Australia with some absurd stories about relationships and sexual adventures, with a bit of a revenge tale, so it’s a really good pairing, and we have a great time travelling together.”

Keckler’s operatic voice seems somewhat removed from Lunch’s swamp-rock psycho-ambient vibe, but the two do crossover when it comes to their poetic, spoken-word prowess. Lunch met Keckler when someone recommended he be a guest on her podcast, The Lydia Spin.

“The minute I started talking to him, it was just obvious that we should be performing together. He brings a great deal of humour, plus the brevity of the operatic divinity of his voice makes for a meeting of differences.” 

Having discussed a lot in her long career, Lunch explains that her theme for the new tour is a “we once were warriors” type of thing. “I’m here to give voice to complications no one is addressing, whether that is political or relationships and the power imbalance, or women bucking the fuck up, excuse my language. Physical, psychological, psychic and verbal self-defence is an important message at any time.

“Let’s face it, we have enough fingers to count how many truly aggressive, philosophical, antagonistic female artists are out there at this point; somebody’s got to represent!”

Lydia continues to explain that she has a bullhorn to her mouth, whether we see it or not. “Pre-internet, I feel like I was called upon and summoned, like this was my freaking duty to express things that a minority of the intellectual, philosophical people feel but don’t have the vocabulary or the energy to express.

“I do it for the individual, not the public domain; my career is a crabwalk sideways. Why am I responsible for always talking about the fact that the war is never over? I just have to do it, and that’s how I feel about all art; if it’s not something that burns in your blood, then it’s just a hobby.”

Lunch’s previous works have spanned from attacking the patriarchy to melding sexual and political stories and opinions into love with fierce energy. Heavily opinionated and often controversial, she leaves us with some more thoughts before handing the book of her and Keckler’s poetry, exclusively made for Australia, in for print.

“I feel like when I say my tagline, the war is never over, there’s a trans-generational trauma in our bloodlines that a lot of people can’t read, but I, for some reason, can kind-of decode them. It’s a weird time because we have a new puritanism, and then we have Cardi B. We have, don’t look at me that’s an assault, and then we have Wet Ass Pussy.

“I’m not saying I’m the moderator in-between this, but there’s gotta be some sense made and an empowerment that isn’t solely based on vulgarity and wearing a fucking leotard. Put some pants on motherfucker.”

Lydia Lunch & Joseph Keckler – Tales of Lust & Madness takes place on March 15 and 16 at  Melbourne Recital Centre’s Primrose Potter Salon. Tickets are available now.

This article was made in partnership with Melbourne Recital Centre.