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Laura Jane Grace talks ‘Hole In My Head’ and the return of ‘Against Me!’

Rephrase my Laura Jane Grace has spoken to NME about her new album ‘Hole In My Head’, reflecting on the 10th anniversary of the seminal punk album ‘Transgender Dysphoria Blues’ and the possibility of new Against Me! music.
The musician was speaking to NME from her new house in Chicago where she lives with her wife comedian Paris Campbell – who she married last December. Grace is best known as the frontwoman of anarcho-punk group Against Me!, and is also notable for being one of the most visible transgender women in punk rock today, coming out in 2012.
The musician will soon release ‘Hole In My Head’, her second solo album written during the pandemic. It is the follow up record to her surprise debut ‘Stay Alive’, which was released in 2020.
“With ‘Hole In My Head’ in particular, it was such a unique period of time for everybody,” she told NME. “I know that’s a cliché, but it’s the reality: we all went through this global pandemic, this mass trauma together. Everyone kind of comes out of it bewildered.
“I came out of that experience, a little bewildered without my band and made the choice to start going to St Louis, just needing some kind of change from Chicago,” she continued. “I didn’t know anyone in St Louis, and St Louis is kind of an intimidating place. So I was just really out of my comfort zone, which in a lot of ways is really healthy for you as a writer. It pushes you to work hard because you’re writing for your life.”

 
Grace has been recording at a studio in St Louis for “the past couple years”, and although the city is in “complete economic ruin”, she called it “one of the few places left in the country where it’s truly cheap to live.”
“The way St Louis feels to me is how it felt when I first started touring in 1998 – everywhere I went was this mix of danger and fun,” she said.
Being in St Louis, along with the physical restrictions of the pandemic, inspired one of Grace’s songs on ‘Hole In My Head’. ‘Punk Rock In Basements’, she told NME, was based on “the idea of thinking back to basement shows and how close everyone used to be proximity wise”.
“It would be like bodies on bodies, everyone drenched in sweat and spit flying out of mouths,” she recalled. “Specifically coming out of the pandemic, the idea of that to me was so perverse.
“I can’t imagine being that close to that many people right now, I would have an anxiety attack. But back then it was the biggest high ever, it was such a great feeling. I longed for the simplicity of those times.”
She also spoke about how she’s managed to sustain a lengthy career for over two decades, putting it down to “always coming back to a place of your ego telling you: ‘You aren’t shit. Prove yourself’.”
“It’s brutal, and maybe that’s low self-esteem mixed in there somewhere too, but that keeps you creating as opposed to resting on your laurels of, ‘I’m so great’, ‘Look at all I’ve done’,” for better SEO. 

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