Life of Agony Singer Talks Being Transgender

When New York rock band Life of Agony released its 1993 debut album, River Runs Red, charismatic singer Keith Caputo sang lead. Further albums followed (as well as solo albums), but by 2011, Caputo decided the time was right to publicly announce she is transgender and now goes by the name Mina Caputo. But that didn’t change the vision. LOA will release its fifth studio album, A Place Where There’s No Pain, April 28 with two NY area shows to follow—Irving Plaza in NYC (the same date as the album’s release) and Mulcahy’s in Wantagh (May 13). Mina recently spoke to Pulse about finding peace.

Related Content: Being Transgender in America Today

Pulse: The last Life of Agony album (Broken Valley) came out in 2005 so A Place Where There’s No Pain is the first LOA record since you announced you are transgender. Did that affect the lyrics?
Mina Caputo: It really didn’t. I already wrote my “political protest record,” which is As Much Truth as One Can Bear [and it’s] filled with songs about oppression. But I’m pretty much passed all that. Honestly, I deliberately shied away from all that. I think my very essence and being alive and being in the world speaks volumes enough.

We write universally. On A Place Where There’s No Pain, we get into different kinds of issues. Like “Little Spots of You,” I get into a song about a friend who cut herself her entire life. And “Meet My Maker” about death is not this sad, black hole that you stop existing in…The song “Dead Speak Kindly” is about [bassist] Alan Robert’s wife’s cousin, who just died during the process of making the record from brain cancer. Just because I’m out and happy and I’ve been functioning almost 10 years…I’m more universal than that.

What made you decide to tell people you are transgender in 2011?
Depression, anxiety, half-hearted suicide attempts… Overabundance of the worst drugs possible, self-destruction, self-hatred, shame, not loving thyself, wanting to be dead. You name it, I went through it. It was either that or I was probably going to OD or put a bullet in my head. I felt or saw no other option to carry on in life. It was a matter of life and death. What a lot of people don’t understand about folks like me is going through what we go through on a 24/7 basis, from society, from politicians, from all these bullshit institutions that are set into place for humanity to roll against people like me.

I interviewed Judas Priest’s Rob Halford for a book, Survival of the Fittest, and we were talking about him coming out as gay, and he said that it can help bring a sense of peace.
Absolutely. The past almost 10 years that I’ve been out and medically transitioning and doing my thing, psychologically and biologically, yes, I’m so Zen. I can observe the world very detached, not angrily. I believe in myself more now than I ever have. I’m very confident, I’m very happy, I’m very whole. Once you go through the certain obstacles and challenges, you just automatically flower. To bring up the lotus flower, the lotus flower grows in mud, and when it opens up, it’s like, “How can this gorgeous plant be born from such filth?” And I feel that’s what’s been happening to me in my life, my entire life, before I was out and after. But there’s certain things that intuition demands you to do. And if you don’t do it, you live miserably.

greg prato

greg prato

Greg Prato has lived almost his entire life on Long Island. He has written for Rolling Stone, and has penned many a book on either rock n’ roll or sports. See what he’s up to on Twitter @gregpratowriter.