Grrrl Pioneers Bikini Kill Split Up

Pioneering neo-feminist punkers call it quits after half the band heads East to focus on other projects.

Bikini Kill, the groundbreaking punk group that helped define the

riot-grrrl subgenre in the early 1990s, have decided to call it quits after

seven years.

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

Stars Records.

"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

1991.

"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

young women."

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

"Feels

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" (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.