Girl Trouble were the band that bridged the gap between the Pacific Northwest sound of the '60s (the high-energy garage rock attack of the Sonics, the Wailers, and Paul Revere & the Raiders) and the grunge scene of the '80s and '90s, playing wild rock & roll that was influenced by the past but embraced the snot, energy, and attitude of punk and its offshoots. Girl Trouble were formed in 1983 by three friends from Tacoma, Washington -- drummer Bon Von Wheelie (real name Bon Henderson), guitarist Kahuna (aka Bill Henderson, Bon's brother), and bassist Dale Philips. When Kurt P. Kendall, born in Spokane but a then recent transplant to Tacoma, teamed up with Bon, Kahuna, and Dale on vocals and saxophone, Girl Trouble were born, and after jamming at a few parties, the band made its proper debut March 9, 1984 at a Battle of the Bands at Fort Steilacoom Community College. To their relief, Girl Trouble's set earned them second place, since first place would have meant they'd have to play another 45 minutes.
Girl Trouble became a presence on the Pacific Northwest scene, known for their tough but high-spirited sound as well as their insistence on giving their fans a show -- featuring go-go dancers on-stage, giving out prizes, staging themed shows, anything to add a new element of fun and excitement to their gigs. In 1987, the band made its recording debut, cutting a single for Olympia's K Records, "Riverbed" b/w "She No Rattle My Cage." A second 7" for K, "Old Time Religion" b/w "Tarantula," followed a few months later, and in 1988 they went into the studio with producer Steve Fisk and cut a full-length album in a weekend, Hit It or Quit It. The LP was the first album released by an ambitious Seattle indie label called Sub Pop Records, and Fisk would become a valued ally of Girl Trouble, producing several of their future releases and occasionally playing keyboards with them in the studio and on-stage. Girl Trouble's third single, "When Opposites Attract" b/w "Gospel Zone"/"Homework," was also the debut release from their own label, Wig Out Records, an offshoot of the band's own fanzine.
In 1990, the band paid homage to its influences in the Pacific Northwest scene of the '60s with the EP Stomp and Shout and Work It on Out, while a second album, Thrillsphere, was issued by PopLlama Records by the end of the year. By this time, the band was touring frequently, sharing stages with like-minded acts such as the Mono Men, Crackerbash, Beat Happening, Phono-Comb, and the Woggles. In 1992, Girl Trouble released a project close to their hearts, an EP of theme songs from four of their favorite Elvis Presley movies, and the following year the band unleashed its third album, New American Shame, a title that would be borrowed as the name of a Seattle-based rock outfit. (Bon in turn borrowed the phrase from an old scandal sheet.) Girl Trouble toured extensively in the United States, Canada, and Europe in support of New American Shame, and released an EP of highlights from a gig in Chicago. In 1996, Girl Trouble appeared in the documentary Hype!, about the Pacific Northwest rock scene, and album number four, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, dropped in 1998, but as the demands of real life began to intrude, Girl Trouble pulled back on their schedule, never breaking up but touring less and staying out of the recording studio except to cut occasional compilation appearances.
However, Girl Trouble continued to play memorable shows in the Northwest, and in 2008, when Sub Pop Records staged a 20th anniversary festival in Seattle and Girl Trouble were left off the bill, the band responded by playing a brief acoustic set in the same park where the big show took place. In 2013, Girl Trouble celebrated the 25th anniversary of the release of Hit It or Quit It by reissuing the album through K Records, playing a handful of special shows in the Seattle area to mark the occasion. In addition to maintaining the Girl Trouble website, Bon Von Wheelie also hosts neverpaytoplay.com, a website offering information to musicians on the many downsides of "pay to play" arrangements and the promoters who employ such schemes to book shows. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi