COCKEYE The Olympic champs of stage-banter air hockey. DEAN STEPHENS

QUEERCORE PUNK DUO Cockeye is know for their riotous live shows, in which Blake Martinez and Joel Lopez hurl one-liners at each other between songs like they’re competing in the Olympics of stage-banter air hockey.

“I feel like now people kind of know what our band’s about—we’re visibly queer, we’re out, we’re loud—so we don’t get booked on as many shows [with] heinous straight bands,” says Martinez. “Maybe that’s where our stage talk came from. Like, 'We’re gonna intimidate you, we’re not gonna be intimidated by you.’”

“The way we interact onstage really came out of a need [to not feel] uncomfortable,” Lopez adds.

Martinez plays guitar, Lopez plays drums, and they both sing. Though they’d played music for years before forming Cockeye, neither had much experience singing or writing lyrics.

“I think our first two or three shows we didn’t have any lyrics, because we were scared to sing,” Martinez says.

Cockeye’s self-released debut EP, Gold Star, came out on Valentine’s Day. They recorded its four songs nearly a year ago in the home studio of Radio Sloan (of Magic Mansion, the Need). Lopez says a “black light-reactive bong” was also present for the EP’s making.

“[We] spent an afternoon in there, laying those down,” says Martinez.

“An afternoon is even being generous,” Lopez counters. “Maybe four, four-and-a-half hours.”

On Gold Star, Cockeye channels the fire of riot grrrl groups like Team Dresch—Martinez says he’s inspired by the songwriting of the seminal queercore band’s lead singer, Jody Bleyle. Though there are just two of them, Lopez and Martinez play the kind of heavy punk that rolls through each track like a natural disaster, leveling towns before they even hit the two-minute mark.

It’s pretty straightforward music, lyric-wise: Opener “Swordfight” kicks off the EP with, “He brought a gun to a sword fight/To shoot me down in the daylight/Y’know he never fought a fair fight.”

“We always have this joke we say onstage where he’s like, 'This song’s about dicks’ and I’m like, 'This song’s about feelings,’” says Martinez. “[But] like, they’re all about both!”

When asked about Cockeye’s future, Martinez begins, “I think our next step is really...”

“...to figure out how to write songs,” Lopez finishes. Most of the EP’s tracks are the product of improvisation, and some are still evolving.

“To me, everything we’ve ever written is just about being gay,” Lopez says. “Whether that’s being hypersexual, hilarious, or [talking] about how you feel shitty sometimes when you’re gay.... For me, that’s what it’s always about. Being a homosexual.”