Jonathan Diener on a Safer Scene

Our first entry in our new interview series On a Safer Scene is with Jonathan Diener. We’d like to thank Jonathan for taking his time to do this interview and to help contribute to a safer scene for everyone.

We appreciate you taking the time to do this interview. Could you please state your name and role within the band(s)?

My name is Jonathan Diener. I play bass and sing in a band called Baggage, drum for a band called BRAIDEDVEINS and used to play drums in a band called The Swellers.

As a touring artist, have you ever noticed any behaviors that you consider harmful in the scene, particularly in regards to harassment and/or discrimination?

I’ve toured for close to a decade and I’ve definitely seen different types of harassment and discrimination over the years. Sometimes it’s a security guard thinking a female member of a band is trying to sneak into the show or is just someone’s girlfriend, which happens often unfortunately.

I’ve seen a lot of people get into arguments and physical altercations. Whether it’s the venue staff and a band, fans with each other, band members with each other or any variation of the three, I’ve seen it go down.

What still throws me off is seeing people within the same scene ridiculing each other without realizing we all have a common goal. It’s mislead people who feel like they have a status they have to uphold rather than a community to build.

What do you think needs to change specifically in order to help create a safer music scene for everyone?

I’d like to see more bands openly communicating what is going on and ways to prevent it. For example, I wanted to use my following (whether it’s from music, writing or just social media in general) to start educating younger kids in the scene on how to treat women and each other, because I can openly admit from the time I started touring to now, I have a completely different world view.

I asked my friend Kayla to be a part of it and for a while we wrote Pop Punk and Feminism which was geared specifically toward people in our scene after a lot of sexual abuse and harassment cases began to arise.

What role do you believe the following people should have in promoting a safer and more inclusive music scene?

Fans

I believe fans should be open minded and ready to challenge their ideals and opinions to learn more about the outside world. Sometimes bands will present some harsh realities in their lyrics or on stage and it’s something they really believe. It’s important for people to not want to brush it off and just hear the music, because real substance will always shine through.

Musicians

I’d love for musicians to be open with their fans and if something seems unfair, unjust or just plain wrong, they should vocalize it. Whether it be other musicians or the way things are run, there is a positive way to educate others without ridiculing them. I’ve had a lot of success just being myself, openly admitting I’ve done wrong in the past and I’m learning just like everyone else. People listen when they relate.

Venues

Venues have to start taking a stand for things they believe in even if it may cost them money here and there. I love all-ages, substance free venues, but I also understand that bars aren’t evil places. There are certain policies you can enforce and it will be the band’s choice to play there. Sometimes you may not allow moshing or stage diving, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t have fun at a show. If people make a huge deal out of it, then you know what not to book in the future.

Are there any places, scenes and/or venues that you’ve noticed to be a safe space? If so, what are they doing that should be emulated by others?

The Flint Local 432 has been an all-ages, substance free venue for 30 years. My band’s first show was there, I worked there for years and after being shut down and relocated countless times, the newest reincarnation is run by my friends who are trying to make a positive change, booking forward thinking musicians and being openly progressive in their stances on things like stage diving to accepting everyone.

It’s nice seeing young, passionate people going for something. It’s just a matter of dealing with the realities of booking bands that are causing some growing pains, but everyone has to go through those to realize how to run things.

Are there any particular bands, musicians, and/or organizations you believe are making an effort to help this cause?

I’ve heard good things about Safer Scene, so kudos to you. Punktalks seems to be doing some good things. Buddy from Senses Fail has been vocal lately and is using his band as a nice platform to raise awareness. Artists like Koji have always been rad too.

There are a lot of good people out there, you just have to pick them out of the herd. The good ones always seem to stick out after a while.

Thanks again for your time. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Please be kind to each other. The world is in a very strange transitional period when it comes to culture. Ideas are being challenged, people are being uplifted, some people are hating on that and acting violently against it, but always remember that you matter.

Every little change matters. And when things get better, sometimes people try to bring them down, but it’s only a sign that progress is being made. Make waves.

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Author: Safer Scene

Safer Scene aims to raise awareness and provide education about assault and discrimination in the alternative music scene.

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