At one point in the song, Marisa confesses, “I’d rather die than hook up with another straight white guy.” The line makes very little sense when you remember that the three members are white, and suggests that the song was made by a computer program to be the perfect Gen Z punk rock track at best, and fetishising men of colour at its worst.
Another line in the song, seemingly gives a very confusing comment on sexual abuse and consent, blaming men for getting drunk and not wanting to have sex.
“I don’t know how you think we’re gonna f*** when you can’t get it up,” the song goes. “I’m sick of hearing it's the alcohol.”
Bestie, sweetie, this is not the girlboss, gatekeep, gaslighting feminism you think it is, this is victim shaming and not cute or empowering. As one comment on their excerpt TikTok reads, “this wasn’t the feminism y’all thought it was.”
“Y’all brought race into this for what,” asked another puzzled commenter.
“You guys forgot you were white too.”
WATCH: TikTok infamous punk rock band Tramp Stamps responds to criticisms around the lyrics in their new song, I'd Rather Die
The group then responded to the backlash with a follow up TikTok, claiming that “they are not fetishing people of colour,” but that the song is about the three members’ “poor sexual experience with a straight white guy with the same name. That’s what it’s about, for men to be better in bed.”
But, irrespective of what it was intended to be for, it put a global spotlight on the new band.
Soon after the controversy, TikTok sleuths began to do some digging and discovered that the alt-rock group weren’t the local lo-fi punk rock trio they had alluded to. In fact, with a major label secretly behind them, it turns out they might just be an industry plant.
What’s an industry plant?
An industry plant is an artist that is marketed to look like an independent artist but is secretly backed by a major label.
Clairo, real name Claire Elizabeth Cottril, is the 22-year-old dream pop producer and singer known for viral tracks turned TikTok sounds “Sofia” and “Pretty Girl.” While she has had a stellar music career, when Reddit discovered that her father was Geoff Cottrill, the former marketing officer at Converse and Converse’s record label Rubber Tracks, fans began to question whether her indie identity was merely a marketing ploy by her father. How much of her success was of her own accord and how much of it stemmed from nepotism?
As that infamous TikTok by Tramp Stamps started doing the rounds, TikToker Seraph Sexton (@hard_cope) shared a scathing clip revealing that the band weren’t exactly who they said they were.
WATCH: A TikToker calls out the Tramp Stamps as a fake band
Specifically, lead singer of the band, Marisa Maino, is a singer who a few months ago tried to jumpstart a Lana Del Ray-like pop career before joining the punk rock group. Their Instagram account boasted over 27,000 followers when they first debuted, but their first post only got under 500 likes. And, while they claim on TikTok they’re truly independent and need help getting started in the music industry, their own YouTube channel lists them as part of the record label, AWAL.
The idea of industry plants isn’t new, it’s particularly alarming when you realise the origins of the riot grrrl movement. Originating in the 1990s, the riot grrrl movement was an underground punk rock feminist movement that aimed to normalise female anger, the liberated sexuality of female bodies, and break down the gendered walls of punk rock as a boys club. For more on the movement, check out Netflix’s Moxie.
WATCH: Moxie | Official Trailer
It was a rebellion against the norm, so the idea that a company is commercialising and commodifying their activism, packaging it up as a new alt-rock band in disguise is insulting to many, including Sexton.
“It’s almost like [Tramp Stamps] are a bunch of theatre majors with rich parents and now they’re co-opting riot girl aesthetics - that people literally dedicate their lives to - for money,” Seraph Sexton said in their video.
“I hate how the only kind of rock music now, they find pretty TikTok people, get them guitars and hyper-produce the most vapid, meaningless bull***t that challenges nothing and does nothing controversial, and is just meant to look pretty and sound good in the most borderline and bottom of the barrell way.”
For more on this story, we recommend checking out the latest episode of Aussie podcast, Culture Club.