Qween Kong is Feral

Zoe Jensen


You have to see Qween Kong live. Their EP Cockroach is excellent music for banging your head to alone, but at a show, Qween Kong makes you bang your head harder with the velocity of every beating heart, every shred, every kick drum, every new and old fan in the room.

Ultimately, it’s music to get feral. Guitarist and vocalist Gillian Basilicato urges people to "come to a live show, get feral with us." And indeed, people do. At every show the audience moshes along with Melody McCarthy's drums, screams with vocalist and bassist Cara DaLucia, and grabs mid-show beers for Gillian.

This communal attitude extends to how they met. Cara and Gillian grew up in Branford and attended an after-school program together when they were six. They began mischief young, with Cara taking part in a gambling ring Gillian had in third grade (and later got in trouble for). Cara played with Gillian but said they were not as close as they are now. They ran in different circles but hung out since they both did theater and choir. "Cara would also have sick parties at her house," Gillian added. Cara noted, "And you were always there!"

Cara and Gillian also grew up with Tate Brooks and Silas Lourenco-Lang from The Problem with Kids Today and have been going to see them for years. They were inspired by their bombastic music and revered what they did for the greater scene. But at shows they would see little representation of women and femininity outside of The Kids. Cara knew that she and Gillian could do this rock-and-roll thing. Although they did not come from instrumental backgrounds, they were performers and had supportive musician friends who inspired their bombastic music and performances.

Gillian remembers, "Cara texted me and asked, want to be in this band? I said yes, but I don’t know how to play guitar. She was like yeah, I have no idea how to play bass. I said, okay, we're going to hit this Ramones style."

"I bought a guitar and then a bass, and I was immediately writing songs," said Cara. "I was like, fuck it, what am I waiting for? It just felt right."

Dylan Royka from Skavs was Qween Kong's original drummer, but it was a temporary position. "We had to work up the courage to ask Melody to play with us for nine months," said Cara. Melody grew up in West Haven and met Cara and Gillian while she was drumming for her other band, Ghouls, Etc. Melody has always been involved in the local music scene, drumming for multiple groups while teaching at her dad's music school.

Once Melody joined the band, Qween Kong began to truly shape their sound. Cara noted that “once Melody joined, we really hit hard and had a better understanding of what we wanted our sound was like and who we were trying to be as a band.”

"This band is a little heavier than Ghouls, so I get all my rage out," said Melody. Cara referenced get-your-rage-out music inspirations, like Veruca Salt and The Breeders. “It's definitely grungy with a metal influence, but I always want to bring it back to the melodic singing of girl punk. That's the centerfold of it," said Cara.

Beyond punk, Gillian is inspired by The Fame Monster, which "is always in my rotation”, along with Thee Oh Sees, The Stooges, Nirvana, Bikini Kill, along with Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, and OutKast, “90s rap is one of my first loves.” Melody said she’s been listening to a lot of jazz, including “JD Beck, Snarky Puppy, a lot of Anderson Paak. I have a signed snare from him, it’s my child. I’ve been playing with it for every single show this year.”

As a band, pop music is an integral piece in ensuring their sound is enjoyable. “Pop music is always a good thing to be influenced by,” said Cara. “It just makes songs catchy. It’s just fun.”

Concepts beyond specific bands inspire them as well. Their name comes from the Boulet Brothers' Queen Kong drag shows. "Drag is my favorite thin ever," said Cara. "It inspires me. I love to get dressed up for shows and the theater of it. Drag queens are fearless." Wrestling also inspires the group, which has extreme parallels with drag race (see: wild outfits, comedy, parading on stage), as well as Qween Kong’s stage presence.

Their most recent show in July at Three Sheets with Skavs and The Ambulance Chasers showed their passion for performance. The show took place on Gillian's birthday, and the supportive, raucous energy of the band trickled down to the audience. The crowd responded to Qween Kong's singing, screaming, jokes, and dancing by moshing, headbanging, laughing, and screaming along. Qween Kong is more than just a show – it's feral theater.