Cole Simmons is a guitarist in a local band out of Springfield, Missouri called Out Of Bloom and a dear friend of mine. I sat down with him for this week’s On a Safer Scene and got a refreshing perspective. Here’s what he had to say.
As someone involved in the industry, have you ever noticed any behaviors that you consider harmful in the scene, particularly in regards to harassment and/or discrimination?
Most definitely. The first step to retiring these kinds of behaviors is making them apparent and providing a solution.
There should be zero tolerance for harassment and discrimination but I see a lot of scenes fall short of this because one of the cool guys is backed hard by a majority and the situation is overlooked.
What do you think needs to change specifically in order to help create a safer music scene for everyone?
In my opinion the people who are educated on social equality need to realize that some people do not understand certain concepts.
Living in the midwest/bible belt it is a breeding ground for ignorance and hate to things that are different. So a lot of the kids that come out to shows might say something that is not acceptable and then our local keyboard warrior will scold them and ridicule them for being wrong.
While the person scolding them has good intentions, this puts a bad taste in the ordinary show goer’s mouth because they aren’t being taught that the behaviors are wrong, they are only being punished for the behaviors and it is counterproductive to any sort of progress. The involvement and inclusion of the younger generation of the music scene is vital to keeping it alive. Pass the torch!
Photo: Walter Dixon
What role do you believe the following people should have in promoting a safer and more inclusive music scene?
If someone falls, help them up. Don’t be petty, address any sort of conflicts in a respectful and direct manner. You don’t have to be everyone’s friend but be mature and get along for the sake of the music.
You are no better than anyone else because you get to stand 3 feet higher on the stage. At the same time, you have more of a platform to speak on issues than most so use this to promote good things in the scene.
Approach conflicts within the establishment with open ears to both sides of a story. Promote unity at your venue, we are all in this together.
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?
Something that needs to addressed is that the punk/hardcore/(insert genre) scenes were founded on the possible outcome of danger, that is what made it exciting. Being able to dive and dance to your favorite bands and not knowing if your buddy might go home with a bloody nose is why it is fun. This is a key aspect and this is obviously NOT safe by most standards.
Where the term “safe” becomes important is when hate speech, discrimination, and harassment are in the equation. Here in Springfield, MO I have seen these things transpire and as a scene we are taking steps in order to prevent it to happening again. You are accepted here and promoting equality for all is the goal for myself and my peers.
Are there any particular bands, musicians, and/or organizations you believe are making an effort to help this cause?
In this day and age there are loads of bands making valiant efforts to help this cause, which is a good thing. Big fan of Against Me! and what they do. Also G.L.O.S.S. is from the future and the past and they’re badass.
Thanks again for your time. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Out Of Bloom’s debut release ‘Gentle Guilt‘ was released on May 4th, 2016. Love your friends, respect some strangers, and start a band.