BY Jeremy Kinser
January 10 2011 5:00 AM ET
The first single, the infectious “Off Our Backs,” and its accompanying video, featuring hirsute men and lithe women playing tug-of-war and jumping on a trampoline, have already made a splash. Samson says the song is very personal to her, and the lyrics flowed out of her immediately when she began writing. “The song is about romantic relationships and flipping the dynamic,” she says. “It’s about being a feminist and taking the power back from men.”
Another standout, “Who Am I to Feel So Free,” emerged as one of the most popular songs in the band’s repertoire during its recent U.K. tour. Samson says the song is about obstacles gay people face that force them to create a family and ultimately be who they really are. “It’s crazy for me to think about all the reasons I should feel shitty,” she says. “Yet those are the same reasons that make me feel good.” O’Neill calls it his favorite. “It has such an energy,” he says. “We ask the crowd to sing the chorus along with us, and it’s just liberating to hear it.”
One of the album’s most energetic and danceable tracks, “Credit Card Babie$,” is, ironically, one of the most somber for Samson. “That song is our most sensitive and emotional, as it’s about how complicated it is to try to have a baby when you’re queer,” she says. “It came out of this place where I was feeling bad about myself, that I’m not rich enough to have a baby with someone. It’s weird how it’s this dance track and it’s about not getting what you want because of who you are.”
While the band’s music cred is solid, it’s Samson’s gender-fuck appeal that is a large part of the allure. O’Neill admits to being impressed by the way Samson captivates the audience each night. “She’s an amazing performer and has such energy onstage,” he says. “It’s fun to share a stage with that magnifying presence.”
Even The New York Times has noted Samson’s singular appeal, calling her “an icon of nerdy cool” and a “radical sex symbol” back in 2004, but she doesn’t let the acclaim go to her head. “I definitely don’t put myself above anyone else in this world, but I do enjoy hearing people say that what I’ve done has helped them,” she says. “When fans say my music changed their lives or helped them come out and be who they are, it means a lot to me.”
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