Abby Posner’s Tribute To An Unexpected Source Of Queer Survival

by Aug 26, 2019Interviews, Music, Reviews

Abby Posner found a surprising queer anthem in a late-nineties punk song. She’s the first to admit punk band Alkaline Trio’s “Cooking Wine” is not a queer song but, growing up queer in rural Colorado in the nineties, she took what she could get.

“I listened to [“Cooking Wine”] over and over again,” she admits. “I was having crushes on girls. It helped me get through those times because I wasn’t able to actually tell the girls I had a crush on them. And I just used music as a shield and almost like a blanket to protect myself. I call it my coming-out anthem because I listened to it so much during that time, which is why I wanted to cover it now and pay proper tribute to it.”

Posner’s cover of “Cooking Wine” is featured on her upcoming EP Return, which is a stripped-down piano and strings homage to coming back to oneself. Posner worked closely with string trio Queertet, a queer violin and cello ensemble consisting of Steve Chiu, Ro Rowan, and JR Schwartz, to flesh out the sound.

“Watching them play together is like watching one person breathe,” Posner says.

Rehearsing at The Village Studio’s Moroccan Room in Santa Monica went so well, she decided to record a live music video and live record at the same time. The result is a masterful tribute to an unexpected source of queer survival.

Alkaline Trio’s “Cooking Wine,” from their 1998 EP For Your Lungs Only, is just over two minutes long with a verse and chorus, each repeated once, and is ostensibly about drinking. “Sorry I’m late, I was out spoiling my liver,” the song opens. “And I can’t see straight, but the two of you look awfully pretty.”

It’s an apologetically angsty drinking song that’s unlikely armor for a young queer kid in Colorado.

Posner came out when she was 14 to a supportive family, but being young in a small conservative town had its challenges. Living in a place without queer visibility before the advent of social media led Posner inward, eventually finding a safe space in music.

“I created a little music room for myself,” Posner explains, “and I had all my instruments everywhere – my bass, my piano, my drums, and a little 8-track tape player – and I would just record all of these kind of punk-inspired lyrics and songs, because at the time that was the kind of music I was listening to, was really a lot of punk rock. It had a lot of emotion and a lot of drive to it that helped me get through those difficult times.”

“I think I was scrambling to find answers in music,” she adds. “Even though I wasn’t listening to LGBTQ music, I was listening to punk music. I was scratching at the walls trying to find some identity in that because that’s what we had.”

For the last 15 years, Posner has been a professional musician in Los Angeles teaching music, writing scores for film and television, and performing with her Americana-folk band, Abby and The Myth. A multi-instrumentalist, Posner is usually playing guitar, banjo, or the drums. A departure from her usual genres, Return puts Posner’s vocals and piano front and center, supported by Queertet’s lush strings that “make your heart flutter.”

In addition to “Cooking Wine,” the EP offers three original songs: “Return Home,” with an accompanying video slated for release in September; “Snow,” about Abby’s relationship with anxiety, depression, and her mom; and “Heavy,” which tackles themes of movement, such as physically moving or breakups, and the bittersweet teachers they can be.

Influenced by the emotional landscape she carved out in “Cooking Wine” as a teen, Posner likes writing nuanced lyrics with lots of room for interpretation.

“I’ve always been moved by poetic lyrics that leave you guessing,” she says, “and it leaves a story for yourself, rather than [just] the story for the vocalist. That’s how I’ve always written my own songs, just making sure the listener is going to find their voice in my music somehow.”

Return will be released digitally October 26th with an accompanying live show at Hotel Cafe in Hollywood, CA.