L7 to end up our week of Riot Grrrl and Riot Grrl/Grunge/Indie bands from the 90s that brought Women to center stage and who pioneered a new course in Pop music.
L7 were, although not directly associated with, were highly influential in getting the Riot Grrrl genre started. But they were a lot of things, and a lot of genres mixed into one. They certainly qualified as Grunge, could easily be considered Hard-Rock/Alternative Metal and were generally a high energy band who created a widespread appeal to many genres and were equally at home playing a concert of emerging Women’s bands as they were playing Hellfest. And in doing so, put people together who normally would not have mixed.
But during the 90s, when everything was up for grabs and genres were either being re-defined or new ones created, a band like L7, with its appeal to both Punk and Feminist crowds created an atmosphere of crossover – and when was the last time you had stoners and Metalheads together in the same room?
L7 were formed by Donita Sparks and Suzi Gardner in 1985. A year prior, Gardner had performed backing vocals on the Black Flag song “Slip It In”. The punk rock duo were joined by Jennifer Finch on bass guitar and Roy Koutsky on drums. Koutsky left shortly after and was briefly replaced by Anne Anderson in 1988. After Anderson quit the band, Demetra “Dee” Plakas became the permanent drummer.
In 1991, the band formed Rock for Choice, a Pro-Choice women’s rights group that was supported by other prominent bands of that era including Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, and Rage Against the Machine.
Their 1992 third album Bricks Are Heavy, produced by Butch Vig, was featured in Rolling Stone’s May 1999 list of ‘Essential recordings of the 1990s’, and was their most successful release. Their 1992 single “Pretend We’re Dead” spent 13 weeks on the Billboard Alernative Songs chart, reached a high of No. 8 and made No 21 on the UK Singles Chart.
L7’s fourth album, Hungry for Stink, was released in July 1994 and coincided with the Lollapalooza tour, on which they shared the stage with other successful acts of the era including The Smashing Pumpkins and The Breeders.
Finch left the band during the recording of their next album. Sparks and Greta Brinkman played bass on the album The Beauty Process: Triple Platinum, after which Gail Greenwood – formerly of the band Belly – became the band’s full-time bassist. In 1998, the pseudo-documentary “L7: The Beauty Process” was released, directed by Krist Novoselic.
If you were missing hearing their earlier work – now’s your chance to get re-acquainted. If you aren’t familiar, or you missed them the first time around, here’s your opportunity to get some catching up done.