By: Lindsy Carrasquillo
The Baltimore, Maryland based hardcore band, War On Women, combine music and activism not only through their music but through action. We were able to speak to lead singer Shawna Potter about the band’s new record, social change and more.
The band first started in 2011 after Potter’s last band fizzled out and she wanted to start an “overly feminist” band. In February of 2015, the band released their self-titled debut album which tackled topics such as street harassment, abortion and transphobia in a confrontational yet catchy way.
On February 8, the band will be playing a special acoustic set at Gainesville’s social change festival, Changeville. “We make it a more chill, intimate setting,” Potter said. “The frustration and anger is still there but it’s definitely not as intense.”
Along with the start of the band, she learned how to be an activist in 2011 when she raised awareness on street harassment. Being able to table allowed her to connect with people and speak out about issues. In addition to the band’s set, she will be leading a workshop at Changeville on Friday, February 9, on how to create safer spaces within your community. “It’s going to discuss general allyship. Whether it’s on music or how you cultivate it yourself,” she said. “That’s something I think about, how I can be the best ally to other people when I need allies for myself.”
While sexism and other issues are still very present in the music scene, she feels that it has begun to change. “I mean, I think a lot of the change has come in the past couple years, especially within the #MeToo movement in the past couple months,” she said. “It feels like a very real moment where victims are believed more than ever before.”
In order to help victims, people must believe them and do something about it. With festivals and DIY spaces, changes to make them more inclusive starts with getting more women involved. “Always have as many women involved as possible, just having women around is not enough,” she said. There must be trust that the festival will be engaged and that clear policies about harassment should be in place.
Over the summer, the band took a break from recording their new record to go on Vans Warped Tour. While she had never experienced anything like it and it was very hard work, it was rewarding on a personal level. “There were so many bands playing that it was easy to find a band that just gets it,” she said. This made the recording process for the new record very different as they had never taken a break in the middle of the process before.
While a date has not yet been announced, she said that the new record should be out in the spring and it is a progression from their last release. “All the songs are different but they fall under the umbrella of feminism,” she said. “If there’s a theme, it’s about people who are for individual rights but always want to limit them.”
When asked about what people should expect from the band this year, she said that they can expect anything they want but a personal goal of hers is for people to enjoy the record but if not, that’s cool too. Throughout 2018, she hopes that the band will do more touring and that she can speak on more panels.