Bikini Kill, the groundbreaking punk group that helped define the
riot-grrrl subgenre in the early 1990s, have decided to call it quits after
The Olympia, Wash., band leaves as its legacy not only two albums and a bevy of singles,
but numerous other groups such as Sleater-Kinney, who were inspired by Bikini Kill's
exhilarating example of neo-feminist, grass-roots punk-rock.
The band -- singer Kathleen Hanna, bass player Kathi Wilcox, drummer Tobi
Vail and guitarist Billy Boredom -- quietly decided to go their separate
ways earlier this year, according to Maggie Vail, publicist for Kill Rock
"Kathleen and Kathi have moved to the East Coast," Maggie Vail said. "They're
doing other stuff."
Hanna's upcoming projects include an album recorded for Kill Rock Stars under the
pseudonym Julie Ruin. In addition, Kill Rock Stars will release a nine-song compilation of
Bikini Kill's EP tracks called The Singles in June.
Soon after Bikini Kill formed in 1990, their incendiary live shows
established the band as pioneers in the aesthetic known as riot-grrrl,
which focused on confronting sexism wherever it lay and empowering women to take
control of their own lives. Hanna regularly urged the females in the audience to claim the
space in front of the stage as their own, and to rise
above divisive issues such as jealousy and competition among women.
Sleater-Kinney, one the most respected groups in punk today, directly owe their
existence to Bikini Kill's example. Singer and guitarist Corin
Tucker told SonicNet Music News last year that she formed her first
band, Heavens To Betsy, after seeing a Bikini Kill show on Valentine's Day in
"They made everyone in Olympia very uncomfortable, and that was extremely
liberating to me," Tucker said, recalling the show. "They were so obviously
only trying to please themselves. They were so inspired that their awkwardness and
amateurism at playing their instruments ... didn't matter at all because of the force of their
words, and their spirit, and what they were trying to accomplish. They inspired so many
Bikini Kill's self-titled debut EP, co-recorded by Fugazi's Ian MacKaye and
released in 1992, contains now classic tracks such as the amazingly touching
Blind" (RealAudio excerpt), the socio-political "Carnival" and
HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Bikini_Kill/Suck_My_Left_One.ram">"Suck My Left One"
Left One"(RealAudio excerpt), a punk-rock anthem whose fury rivaled that of
the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy In The U.K." 15 years before.
"Daddy comes into her room at night, he's got more than talking on his
mind," Hanna sings impatiently, as the band, still new to their instruments, digs with punk
righteousness behind her. "My sister pulls the covers down, reaches over, flicks on the
light -- and she says to him: 'Suck! My! Left! One!' "
Joan Jett, whose own example as a female rocker in the Runaways in the late
1970s and as a solo artist in the '80s inspired Bikini Kill, was so
energized by an early BK performance that she in turn wrote the song
"Activity Grrrl" as a tribute to Hanna and her bandmates. In 1993, Jett
produced Bikini Kill's New Radio EP, which included the most fiery of
several recordings they made of their signature song, "Rebel Girl."
In 1994, Kill Rock Stars reissued Bikini Kill and the band's 1993
split EP with Huggy Bear as a single collection called The CD Version of
the First Two Records. Bikini Kill followed that with several singles
as well as another album, 1996's Reject All American.