Lauren Kashan is the vocalist of Baltimore based hardcore band, Sharptooth. The band released their debut LP Clever Girl this past fall with Pure Noise Records.
The album embodies what the band, and Kashan stand for; the politically charged lyrics are given a strong backing of energy filled, hardcore instrumentals by Keith Higgins (guitar), Lance Donati (guitar), Phil Rasinski (bass) and Connor Mac (drums).
Sharptooth will be kicking off 2018 with joining Anti-Flag and Stray From The Path in their U.S. tour. I was given the chance to speak with Kashan about her experience as a female vocalist as well as what’s in store for the band.
Kailey Howell: Being the vocalist of a hardcore band, and being a woman; what are some of the reactions you get from people?
Lauren Kashan: Fortunately, nowadays, the reactions I get from people are overwhelmingly positive, but sometimes a bit condescending. Typically people are pretty complimentary, but you do occasionally get backhanded comments like “you’re really good for a girl” or “I never liked female vocalists until I heard your band!”. If it seems like it could be a beneficial learning experience for the other person, I’ll usually gently point out how the comments premise relies on a sexist outlook, and people actually are typically eager to listen and correct themselves. It’s actually those interactions, the ones where people are willing to amend themselves, that give me the most hope for humanity. It just reminds me that if you take the time and patience to address issues, especially in well meaning people, that you can create positive change over time. Which is actually kind of the whole premise that the band is built on in the first place.
KH: I really appreciate that as a woman, you bring some of the politics of it to the table, and show them in your songs. What are some of the biggest issues that drive you?
LK: Obviously equality for all peoples, and the elevation of marginalized voices; those are the two primary things we tackle in Sharptooth, and we come at those issues from a multitude of angles. While obviously women’s rights are an issue I feel extremely strongly about, if you listen to the record, there’s really only a couple songs that deal with only femme specific issues. One of the primary issues that our band seeks to address is sexual violence. I make it a point to talk about my own personal experiences, as well as inviting the solidarity of other survivors, and encouraging all people to start talking much more about consent in their own lives.
I think theres still this colloquial idea that sexual violence is something perpetrated only by evil men in dark alleys, or repeat predatory offenders like Harvey Weinstein. But the fact is that each and every one of us has a responsibility to look at the ways we are interacting with each other so as to promote proactive consent, as opposed to just reactive consent. Consent isn’t just “no means no”, it’s “yes means yes”. We should all be making an effort to be asking more questions of each other and ourselves to do a better job with that.
KH: On a similar note, if you had the chance to meet face to face with Donald Trump, what would you do or say?
LK: YIKES- I really have no idea. Theres so many layers to that. This is a man who has no remorse for saying and doing some pretty heinous things. A man who has openly mocked virtually every marginalized group, a man who has openly joked about perpetrating sexual violence. Honestly, the thought of having to look into his face is kind of scary. This isn’t a person who operates from a place of empathy or compassion. It’s like we’re speaking two completely different languages. So what do you say to the face of an unapologetic oppressor? I don’t know that there is much you can say that will have any effect.
What I can do is work to help educate, inspire, and mobilize the public to take an active role in dismantling oppressive systems, be that our own government, or in our social circles. It starts with each and every one of us. I think that’s where I can have the biggest impact, rather than in telling this guy to his face to go fuck himself. Which I guess, would really be the only thing I could say. But why waste my breath putting him down, when I can use it to raise people up?
KH: You have a tour coming up with Anti Flag and Stray From the Path, what can fans look forward to from Sharptooth and your sets?
LK: Expect the unexpected, and a lot of intensity! We’re a highly physical and emotionally charged band that thrives on pushing ourselves to extremes during our live shows. Expect us to be addressing challenging socio-political every night; we treat our live sets almost like a rally. Combine with that the fact that this is our first full US tour, along side idols of ours like Anti Flag and Stray From The Path, we’ve been working super hard to make sure we’re bringing our A-game to make the rest of the tour package proud.
KH: What can we look for in the new year from Sharptooth after the tour?
LK: Definitely LOTS more touring! 2018 is shaping up to be a really exciting year with the tours we have planned. We’re also hoping to make it over to Europe in 2018 as well. And of course, we’re always chugging away, writing new songs, so expect some new music as well. We’re putting the pedal to the metal this year.
Clever Girl is available for purchase on all major distributors. Sharptooth hits the road this January with Anti-Flag and Stray From The Path. Check out the list of dates below to catch their set and follow the band on Facebook and Twitter for more information!