Queen of Jeans’ Miri Devora on tokenism, growing up queer, and Lyft rides ahead of Sayreville show

Seeing Death Cab for Cutie and Jenny Lewis at the Starland Ballroom is a memorable concert in itself, but for Queen of Jeans lead singer Miri Devora, it was the Lyft ride back to their hotel that was even more memorable. 

“My favorite part of the night was the Lyft ride that we took because our driver was part of this Jon Bon Jovi fan club, and she was telling us all these crazy stories about the band members, but also their moms as well. It was this very wholesome experience. I think it was my favorite Lyft ride ever,” says Devora on the phone from Philadelphia. 

Queen of Jeans will be returning to Bon Jovi’s home turf on Dec. 18, opening for The Starting Line at the Starland Ballroom.

“This year when The Starting Line asked us to play, we immediately said yes,” says Devora. “The Starting Line are like hometown heroes, and Mattie has been such a big of Starting Line, and used to go to all of their shows in high school.”

For Devora, playing in Jersey will be a mini homecoming of sorts as she grew up taking musical theater lessons in Bordentown, and would spend a lot of weekends as a child hanging out with friends in Hamilton Township.

“Bordentown is great,” says Devora. “We would go to Mastoris Diner all the time, and they had this awesome cheesy bread and it was really sweet.”

Those trips from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, to the Trenton area meant there would be good cheesy bread, but the trips had a deeper meaning for Devora as music was their escape in life. 

“I grew up queer and I am still queer,” says Devora (she/they/their). “So I was growing up closeted for sure ,and I wasn’t out at all in high school. This kept me from forming close relationships with my friends. I kept to myself and music was my escape.”

Music surrounded Devora in Doylestown. From the outside, Doylestown looks like it could be confused with towns like Haddonfield or Princeton, but over the years, it’s built up an impressive hardcore and screamo music scene. 

“Doylestown is a cool town, and a lot of cool music comes from Doylestown,” explains Devora. “We got Circa Survive and Balance Composure. We have a lot emo and post-punk bands, and then there’s me with sad queer music.”

Devora would eventually move out of Bucks County, and into Philadelphia; a city where she became more comfortable as a person, and as a musician. 

“I found friends that were also queer,” remembers Devora. “It got me out of my bubble, and I got to see that there are more perspectives out there.”

In Philly, she would meet their future wife and current bandmate Mattie Glass. 

“We’ve both been in different bands in Philly, and never ran into each other. We actually met online and hit it off.”

Glass and Devora bonded over a common experience of being treated like the “token female” or “token queer” in the band. An experience that led to the formation of Queen of Jeans. 

“We both shared the commonality of being in groups where we were treated as the token woman in those bands,” Devora says. “Like playing instruments or doing backing vocals. For me, I was one of the main writers in one of my bands, but a lot of the time my opinions were sidelined. I didn’t have full authority or ownership of our music. We wanted to have a band where the focus was on us and what we were thinking and our ideas.”

Later on, the duo was able to find their drummer Patrick Wall. The experience of finding a drummer for a band is one that Devora compares to dating.

“We always make that joke that like starting a band is kind of like dating because you have to try out different people, and see if you fit,” explains Devora. “We met a lot of great drummers, but they didn’t necessarily jive with what we were doing. And then we met Patrick and we always call him ‘our little unicorn,’ he likes to hear what we have to say and he’s comfortable with adjusting, and he’s an all around great person.”

Once Glass and Devora found their “unicorn,” the band was ready to roll, and they did so in a big way. The group played show at numerous venues in Philly like Johnny Brenda’s, World Cafe Live, and Boot & Saddle (RIP). They also went on tour with fellow Bucks County natives Balance and Composure, and did a tour with the Menzingers. 

Recently they put out a three-song covers EP and put their spin on classic songs. One of the songs that they covered was “Teenage Dirtbag” by Wheatus. Queen of Jeans also covered Melissa Etheridge and St. Vincent as well. 

“Oftentimes with Queen of Jeans when touring I feel like we are an outlier band, and I feel like we have to introduce ourselves to people who normally wouldn’t listen to our music. Our way to bridge the gap for us to play a cover,” says Devora. “With ‘Teenage Dirtbag,’ we built that song up when we were on tour with the Menzingers. Playing to an audience every night is what helped us find our voice with that song. That’s my favorite part of covering a song is playing tribute to the original, but also finding our own identity in the song.”

Queen of Jeans also covered “I’m I The Only One” by Melissa Etheridge, a song that is partly inspired by Devora’s childhood and their parents.

“I grew up listening to Melissa Etheridge, and at the time I didn’t know but there was queer representation there for me,” says Devora. “My parents loved Melissa Etheridge, and I was climbing on the couch and singing ‘Climb to my window,’ and stuff.”

Before the covers EP, Queen of Jeans released a full-length album called if you’re not afraid, i’m not afraid, an album that Devora dedicates to their late mother.

“We wrote the songs in a one- or two-year period where my mom was battling cancer,” says Devora. “She passed away in December of 2018, which was one month before we were set to record. The albums and the songs in general have her all over that, and where my head was during the writing process.”

One of those songs in the album that describes Devora’s emotions is “Get Lost.” “I didn’t want to say I was super depressed, but with everything that was going on in my personal life, I felt shut in. I didn’t want to go out with friends or hang out with people. I didn’t feel like I was fully there. The song is kind of a play on getting lost and freeing yourself from those situations.”

“Get Lost” also marked a turning point for the band production wise. “The production side of ‘Get Lost’ was really cool,” explains Devora. “We kind of wanted to play with drum sampling, and so the whole first half of the song incorporates more pads and samples. The first half of the song is very singular and introspective, and then the pit opens in and it’s all this mashing of vocals and it explodes at the end.”

Another event that was going on at the time of recording if you’re not afraid, i’m not afraid was the Trump administration’s attacks on reproductive rights, and the queer community. It’s something that Devora addresses in the song “Tell Me.” 

“I remember seeing our friends in the queer community have fear that we didn’t have as much [as we did] under the Obama administration,” Devora says. “So, ‘Tell Me,’ especially as a woman, is a song about women’s rights and reproductive rights. We shouldn’t be told what we can or cannot do by some asshole in the government. We’re even dealing with that now with abortion rights being stripped away. It’s a really scary time in general.”

Recently, the Supreme Court has taken up cases that could overturn Roe v Wade. It’s something that Devora is disappointed about, but not surprised.

“It’s appalling and shocking to me,” says Devora on the Supreme Court cases. ”But also I’m at this point where it’s not shocking anymore ,just because of everything that has happened already. It’s been this steady decline for years now and you just feel hopeless sometimes.”

Another song that Queen of Jeans put in if you’re not afraid, i’m not afraid was called, “So Obvious To You,”

“It’s a fun song,” says Devora, laughing.”It’s not about anyone specifically, but it’s about the feeling about not being seen or being undervalued. Whether it’s being undervalued by your partner, friends or government. Like people not taking seriously, and giving so much to someone and not getting anything in return. It’s kind of my FU song.”

In the future, Devora says Queen of Jeans would like to able to tour more, build up their fanbase, and release another full-length album.

“We want to keep writing music until it doesn’t make us happy anymore,” says Devora.

The Starting Line tickets in Sayreville at Starland Ballroom on Sat, Dec 18 – 8 p.m. (