2015 marks the year where the nineties are making a comeback. Exciting news has been circulating around the music press that iconic bands Babes In Toyland and L7 are reforming. Babes In Toyland and L7 were two iconic all female grunge bands who were massive inspirations to the feminist-punk “riot-grrrl” movement including Kathleen Hanna herself. Both bands also share a connection with Courtney Love through Kat Bjelland of Babes In Toyland and Jennifer Finch of L7.
Babes In Toyland were formed in 1987 in Minneapolis after Kat Bjelland met drummer Lori Barbero at a friend’s house. Kat and Lori went through many band members including Courtney Love who was kicked out of the band after a few weeks. Kat Bjelland and Courtney Love also have a legendary dispute over who invented the “kinderwhore” look (babydoll dresses, smudged lipstick and bleached blonde hair) a trademark of both frontwomen during the nineties. Like Courtney, Kat Bjelland was also famous for her gut wrenching howl and violent metaphor ridden lyrics. Babes In Toyland released their first single through legendary label Sub Pop in 1989. It was entitled Dust Cake Boy. The band also appeared in Dave Markey’s film 1991: The Year Punk Broke documenting their influence during the grunge era. They played Lolapalooza in 1993 alongside bands such as Alice In Chains and Rage Against The Machine.
The band released their iconic album Fontanelle in 1992. The album consists of Bruise Violent and the track Handsome and Gretel, both rumoured to be about Courtney Love and their rivalry/friendship.The current reunion will consist of the line up who performed this album. Maureen Herman will play with Babes In Toyland in 2015. Both Michelle Leon and Maureen Herman have left and returned to the band on different occasions due to personal reasons. The band have battled many personal struggles in the years after Babes In Toyland including mental illness and physical injury. However, they were documented to reconnect in 2013 and have talked about getting back together for a while. In NME, Maureen Herman told of how they recently played the song He’s My Thing together and “knocked it out on first try”. The band will play their first gigs in the UK after 18 years in May 2015.
L7 were formed in 1985 in Los Angeles by Donita Sparks and Suzi Gardner. They were then accompanyed by Jennifer Finch on bass and drummer Roy Koutsky. Roy was then replaced by Demetra Plakas. Jennifer Finch once shared a band with Kat Bjelland and Courtney Love called Sugar Baby Doll, the project was doomed and never amounted to much. L7 were responsible for Rock For Choice, a pro choice organisation which was supported by bands such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam. The band got their name from a 1950’s slang term which means “square” or “uncool”. The band’s 1992 album Bricks Are Heavy was produced by Butch Vig (Nirvana, Garbage) The popular album spawned their most famous hit Pretend We’re Dead and the track Shitlist. L7 were riff heavy and famous for their aggressive and distinctive vocals. The band also garnered much controversy in their time. Donita Sparks famously stripped from the waist down on the iconic British music TV show The Word. During the 1992 Reading festival, she threw her used tampon into the crowd. Drummer Demetra Plakas once raffled off a one-night-stand at a London gig. The band found themselves on many movie soundtracks during the 1990s including Natural Born Killers and Tank Girl. They also made an appearance as a punk band in the John Waters film Serial Mom.
Currently, the original line-up have reformed after 14 years. The band have announced festival dates in Spain and France as well as an appearance at this year’s Download festival at Castle Donington. It will be their first UK gig after 15 years. The band have also started a Kickstarter website to raise funds for a documentary entitled L7: Pretend We’re Dead.
May 24th Bristol Trinity
May 25th Southampton Engine Room
May 26th London O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire
May 27th Manchester Gorilla
May 28th-30th Primavera Festival, Barcelona, Spain
June 14th Download Festival, Donington UK
June 19th Azkena Rock Festival, Spain
June 20th Hell Fest, France