Former lead ska vocalist to perform again
Published: Monday, August 20, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 20, 2012 20:08
For the first time since the ska band “Paranoia Dance Party!” dissolved in November 2011, former lead singer Madison Turner will once again take stage.
But for Turner, who will perform at the Skatepark of Tampa’s Transitions Art Gallery on Thursday at 7:30 p.m., the stage performance may be her last.
“I did that thing,” she said. “It was fun for awhile.”
Though Turner said she no longer sees herself pursuing a career in music, years ago no thought other than that would have crossed her mind.
Around the age of 14, she began writing lyrics and attending emo, hardcore and ska concerts.
“I just wanted to do that,” she said. “I wanted to tour and release records. It was the energy, and it was like an escape from life at the same time. It was almost like a fantasy world where everything was awesome — and loud.”
At 14, the world of music offered a very different reality from the one she lived in.
Born biologically male, Turner said she first heard of what it meant to be ‘transgender’ during her early high school years. While she wasn’t fully sure at the time if she wanted to transition — something she began at the age of 23 — she could point back at memories as early as her elementary school days in which she identified as female.
“(Music) was really an escape,” she said. “It was very important and consumed my life to some extent. At that age, I thought I was going to be in a band forever. I thought I’d be one of those 40 or 45-year-olds that are still touring, but, yeah, I guess I didn’t know what it all entailed at the time.”
It took Turner about 10 years to figure out what it entailed.
At 14, she started a ska band called “The Gameshow,” which practiced out of her mom’s garage. The band’s biggest fan, Turner said, was her mom, and the band never took off.
Turner formed a new band in 2007, “Paranoia Dance Party!,” taking with her the bassist from “The Gameshow.”
The band practiced for six months before it began touring, traveling together for months at a time, meeting people from cities across the country. The band released one EP and one full-length album in their four years of existence, and had loyal fans who would attend their concerts on tour.
But after four years in the band, tensions grew, Turner said.
“It was kind of the breaking point, as far as trying to be in a full-time band,” she said. “It’s entirely time consuming. It costs tons of money, and you never see that money. Everyone starts to get on each others’ nerves, and nobody really likes each other anymore, but you’re trapped in a van with them for a month or so at a time.”
The last summer tour, she said, was the ultimate test of whether the band would continue.
“We may have been thinking it somewhat, beforehand, but I think before that tour, we were kind of like ‘This will be make or break,’” she said. “‘We’re going to do this and it will be amazing.’ And then we went and did it.”
But the final tour was significant for Turner in other ways.
A week before she came out on Facebook to all her friends as transgender, she told her bandmates at one of their practices.
“I kind of came out saying ‘I’m going to try to cross-dress and stuff,’” she said. “That’s kind of all I said, but I knew — and didn’t at the same time — how far I was going to take it. As soon as I started, I was like, ‘Well of course, I’m going to transition.’”
Woody Bond, PDP!’s drummer, who booked Thursday’s show and will be playing with Turner at Transitions Art Gallery and has known Turner since he was 15, said he remembers the band members being taken a bit by surprise.
“We were all pretty much like, ‘Uhhh....what?,’” he said. “It really just came out of nowhere. I didn’t really assume how she felt. And all of us were kind of surprised, but then we were like, ‘Oh. Whatever.’”
Turner said the band was fairly supportive.
“At first they were a little shocked, but then they were like, ‘Alright, that’s cool,’” she said. “‘Let’s go practice. We don’t give a s---. Do whatever you want.’ One of them was like ‘This should be interesting.’”
Turner continued to perform in male attire until the last show of the tour, when she was able to dress as herself.
“The way I looked at the band, was like the whole thing was like a performance, and I was just an actor just doing this thing,” she said. “It’s not something I would normally do anyway. It’s a whole different face I put on for performing. It just felt like that was an act.”