Derek Zanetti – commonly refereed to as The Homeless Gospel Choir – is a man who wears his heart and expereinces on his sleeve. Throughout the past decade the Pittsburgh folk punk has been a beacon of hope and relatability for many, with countless fans worldwide engaging with his stark and passionate documentations of much required inclusiveness and our increasingly toxic global culture. With his new and first full-band album This Land Is Your Landfill now out in the wild, we got in touch with The Homeless Gospel Choir for a quick chat on releasing the record during the pandemic, religion, mental health and the punk scene.
You're releasing your latest record during a very surreal and bizarre time, how do you feel about it?
"At first, yes. I was worried about it coming out, and if it was able to be delivered to people during a world wide flu pandemic. But then I quickly remembered that most people consume music digitally anyway and what a better way to help you through a trying time than to have a new record to listen to."
There's a real dystopian but cathartic sense to This Land Is Your Landfill, can you talk to us about that?
"I was raised in a very conservative evangelical Christian church as a child and it did a number on me mentally. It still in many ways reeking havoc on my subconscious. It's hard to evade trauma from your past when it was mostly trauma. But I guess it makes for good punk rock songs, so It wasn't all in vein."
You've used your work to document mental illness in the past. The current events regarding the coronavirus are likely to have in impact on many people's mental health. What advice would you have for those struggling right now mentally?
"To be honest? My mental health has never been better. I wish I had a great nervous breakdown story to give you, to help the column feel more juicy. But Im in a pretty rigged routine which keeps my hand and mind busy. and to be honest, too bust to worry. I Think I may be in the minority however. Make art, write poems, start a digital punk band. Write a memoir, make art! Seriously. Its like magic for your heart."
Let's talk about the punk community for a bit - how can we nurture the scene and how can it benefit fans right now?
"Well, I think it tough because community always revolved around being together for me. And since we can't be together in person we have to make time and space for us to gather in a different way via social media. I am fortunate that the people who support The Homeless Gospel Choir are down to be adventurous and do weird live stream concerts and raffles on Instagram and trivia contests on twitter. Its not as good as punk rock, but its the closest way for us to try for now."
What is your advice on maintaining a positive mental attitude during this time?
"Listen to good music, write down a daily schedule. Be creative, drink lots of water, meditate, stretch. Call an old friend, write letters, get stoned, get lots of sleep."
Finally, do you have any messages for your everyone at this current time?
"Work hard, be kind, don't quit."
This Land Is Your Landfill is out now via Hassle Records. Purchase the record here.