- The following was written by me.
Many people only know Bikini Kill as the founders of riot grrrl. Others know them as the girl in "that band" that got punched by Courtney Love at Lollapalooza. Bikini Kill have stated many times that they are in no way the "leaders of" or authorities in the riot grrrl movement. All of the members have different degrees and opinions on riot grrrl. Although they may be thought of as a riot grrrl band, they do not want to be thought of as the definitive riot grrrl band. The band began around 1991 when Bikini Kill and Bratmobile got together during a gig. Thus, riot grrrl was supposedly born. In actuality, Bikini Kill began in 1991 in Olympia, Washington. Kathleen is orinally a native of Oregon. In 1991, Bikini Kill released a self-titled EP on the label Kill Rock Stars run by Slim Moon. Slim Moon and Kathleen Hanna released a split spoken word seven inch together. Kathleen was then known for writing great lyrics, putting on a confrontational show, and singing without any sense of restraint. Kathleen then became the unwilling figurehead for riot grrrl. Bikini Kill and Bratmobile, both natives of Oregon, had endorsed feminism in their lyrics, liner notes, and self-published fanzines. In fact, Bikini Kill started out as a zine, then later became the name for the band. They had inspired a new type of dress: short, little girl dresses as well as Hello Kitty pocketbooks and backpacks. Riot grrrl is basically stating that women should resist sexism in any form and should express themselves as loudly and forcefully as possible. One of the earlier "supposed" riot grrrl founders, Joan Jett, also works a lot with Bikini Kill. Joan Jett produced and played on their first seven inch release, New Radio. She also recorded Go Home, a song that pays tribute to the late Mia Zapata of the Gits with Kathleen and The Blackhearts. Joan and Kathleen have also been seen at the Rock For Choice benefits doing a few songs together. A girl once read on stage a dumb review done on the band after a live gig in "Thurston Hearts The Who," that "Bikini Kill are activists, NOT musicians." Bikini Kill was not the first band that the members of Bikini Kill were in. Tobi, Kathi, and Billy had earlier formed a band called Go Team with Calvin Johnston of K Records. Tobi, Billy, and Kathi also formed a band called The Frumpies with other members of Bratmobile. The Frumpies have out four seven inches on the labels Kill Rock Stars, Lookout! Records, run by Christopher Applegren of The PeeChees, and Chainsaw Records, run by Donna Dresch, former member of Team Dresch and friend of Bikini Kill. The Frumpies sound is lo-fi with vocals done by Tobi and Kathi with lots of guitar sound. A full-length record is rumored to be recorded by them in the future. Kathleen was in earlier bands such as Suture and The Fakes. Suture isn't that well known except for a three song self-titled seven inch put out on Decompositon Records. Suture consisted of Kathleen Hanna, Sharon Cheslow, and Dug E. Bird. The Fakes show more of Kathleen's political side. The Fakes were not really a band, more of a project. They put out one record, Real Fiction on Chainsaw Records. This record was mostly spoken word and traditional punk rock. The Fakes were Rachel Carns, Kathleen Hanna, Tim Green, Sue P. Fox, Tae Won Yu, Angie, Billie Strain, and Phyllis. Kathleen will have out a new seven inch in September under the alias Julie Ruin. Later in 1991, Bikini Kill's second release came in the form of a split LP with the British revolutionary band, Huggy Bear. This was titled Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah. This material can also be found on the Bikini Kill album, The CD Version of the First Two Records. Then, in 1993, Bikini Kill released Pussy Whipped. This album was filled with intensity, velocity, fury, and great form. It had tackled many "sore subjects." They had taken on one of their earlier slogans, "Revolution Girl-Style Now!" which can be heard in the beginning of Double Dare Ya. The album became a huge success. Before, Bikini Kill had been playing at small clubs, never sold out, and now, they were playing at bigger, more established clubs. During 1995, Bikini Kill kept a low profile , until the 1996 release of Reject All American, on Kill Rock Stars. The first three songs sound like typical, punk style Bikini Kill, but a majority of the album is slower. On this album they pay tribute to Tony Randall, Molly Ringwald, Mary Tyler Moore, and Gene Barnes, who died of AIDS related meningitis. Bikini Kill is pure punk rock plain and simple. Most of the people that dislike Bikini Kill usually dislike the band simply for the fact that Kathleen speaks about sex, violence, rape, stripping, etc. People draw their own conclusions and say that Kathleen is anti-male just because of her lyrics. Kathleen is said to ask guys to let girls stand in the front at their shows and to charge girls a cheaper ticket price, I don't know how true this is. Maybe people are just turned off by the honesty in Kathleen's lyrics, because she is a female expressing her anger/hate/frustration/sexuality in the form of lyrics and music. Bikini Kill's lyrics are real and not happy, poppy little love songs, because let's face it that kind of music is not realistic. Bikini Kill tell it like it is and that scares people. Unfortunately, Bikini Kill broke up on February 11, 1998. Their last album release was a compilation of all of their seven inches titled The Singles. Kathleen and Kathi recently moved to North Carolina and Tobi and Billy still live in Olympia, Washington.
Write to Bikini Kill at:
c/o Kill Rock Stars
120 NE State #418
Olympia, WA 98510