AE: Do you see that changing now that you’re on a major label?
HB: I don’t know. We’ll see what happens, because we haven’t actually released anything yet on Columbia. So I think that will get us more exposure, but we’ll have to see. I don’t see our band becoming a major success in the U.S. It hasn’t happened yet, and I think it’s unlikely.
AE: Is that something that you want, that you seek out actively as a band?
HB: Not at all. It’s been kind of accidentally in the U.K. It wasn’t something that we expected. We definitely appreciate it.
It’s kind of bizarre, coming from a place where we’re playing on a DIY punk kind of level and for so long, and to kind of explode over there was really strange. It’s cool, but it’s just so different from what we’re used to.
AE: You mentioned before that Beth is in the news a lot. Has it changed anything as far as the band dynamic?
HB: No. I mean, it’s definitely hard to get used to that as people kind of â€¦ it depends on who you are talking about. A lot of people will view the band as only Beth, which I kind of think is hard for me and Nathan sometimes. But I think the true music fans and the people who appreciate the band â€” and not just the singer â€” I think they see the whole picture.
I think that’s really important, that we have been doing this for so long as a group. But it’s difficult when people just see The Gossip as Beth Ditto and the backing band. â€¦ But I think she works hard to include us and make sure we get recognition, too, but it all depends on who is looking at it. They can see it however they want. As long as we’re in it together, I think we’ll stay strong and keep supporting each other.
AE: It seems like you’ve been thrust into activism, whether it’s fat positive or queer positive. Is that something you wanted to be known for or has it just come out of being out and queer and fat?
HB: I think the band has always had a message, even if songs in particular aren’t always political, they’re always there. They’re always about queer love, and I think we’ve never been people to hide.
I think we all believe that if you have this position where you can affect people’s life or change their opinion in some way, then why don’t you use it. If you have this great podium â€” the stage â€” in which you can inspire people or make them think â€¦ why not use that. There’s so many bands that just don’t say anything at all, and it’s so f—ing boring.
Not that you have to be on a soapbox all the time, but I think if you have something to say, music is just such a powerful medium to get that word across.
AE: Are you guys huge in Australia, too? I saw the girl sing your song "Standing in the Way of Control" on Australian Idol.
HB: [Laughs.] I got sent that link on YouTube like last week, and I was like "What? What the f— is this?"
AE: Did they have to get your permission to do that?
HB: No. â€¦ I don’t know, actually. It’s possible we could have said, "Yeah you can use our song on Australian Idol." They don’t have to pay us anything. It doesn’t bother me, but it’s just so weird. It’s crazy. We’ve been to Australia before. I’m not sure if this time around if it’ll be a lot bigger or what. That was definitely a trip.
AE: Have you had any other moments like that since becoming a bigger band? Like "I can’t believe they’re talking about The Gossip on this show" or "Keira Knightly is talking about Beth."
HB: Yeah, I mean, like all the tabloid stuff really blows my mind, and being stalked by paparazzi, that blows my mind. There’s been lots of stuff that’s been kind of like "What?"
Like playing a festival and having Michael Stipe on the side of the stage, and we got limoed over â€” kind of like this status symbol kind of thing that’s very strange. Kate Moss hanging out. â€¦ it’s just weird. I never thought that our band would get to that level where celebrities were fans. It’s just really strange.