On this day in 1969, bassist Kathi Wilcox was born in Vancouver, Wash. As a musician
and songwriter, Wilcox played an important role in the feminist rock of Bikini Kill.
Bikini Kill earned a reputation as an exciting live act well before their first record came
out. Wilcox, singer Kathleen Hanna and drummer Tobi Vail met at Evergreen College in
Olympia, Wash. At school, the three were in charge of a feminist magazine entitled
Bikini Kill, which set a powerful agenda for young women.
The threesome began to play instruments and formed a band that played underground
punk-rock clubs. Guitarist Billy Boredom (real name: William Karren) also was a key part
of Bikini Kill’s sound. During their live shows, Bikini Kill encouraged audience members
to slam at the side of the stage so that women would not get displaced from the front.
They also invited women to take the mic from the band to discuss sexual abuse. Hanna
often would remove her top while onstage and write “Kill Me” across her body.
The bandmembers made their debut tape, Revolution Girl Style Now,
independently, and passed it around themselves. Some of the tape’s tunes also
appeared on Bikini Kill’s official debut, 1992’s eponymous EP. The record, produced by
Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye and released on the Kill Rock Stars label, featured cuts such as
“Double Dare Ya” and “Thurston Hearts the Who.” It also included politically provocative
sentiments such as “eat meat/ hate blacks/ beat your f—in’ wife/ it’s all the same thing.”
Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah, a 1993 LP that Bikini Kill shared with Huggy Bear’s
Our Troubled Youth, included cuts such as “Rebel Girl” and “White Boy.”
Joan Jett produced Bikini Kill’s 1993 New Radio EP, featuring lines such as
“come here baby/ let me kiss you like a boy does.”
Bikini Kill and Huggy Bear toured together in England in 1993, spurring interest in riot
grrrl music. Bikini Kill also played gigs on a bill with Jett the following year.
Though Hanna usually wrote the band’s tracks, Wilcox and Vail contributed songs to
Pussy Whipped (1993), generally considered Bikini Kill’s best recording. Wilcox
sang her own song, “Speed Heart” (RealAudio excerpt), on the
The Anti-Pleasure Dissertation EP appeared in 1995, followed by the “I Like
F—ing” single. In 1996, Bikini Kill issued Reject All American, which included
Wilcox’s “False Start.”
Wilcox and Hanna split up Bikini Kill in early 1998. Hanna took the name Julie Ruin for
her recent Julie Ruin solo LP. Wilcox moved to Washington, D.C., and has not
announced any musical plans yet. Kill Rock Stars issued Bikini Kill: Singles in
Other birthdays: Hank Medress (Tokens), 60; Fred Lipsius (Blood, Sweat & Tears), 54;
Ofra Haza, 39; and Dave Guard (Kingston Trio), 1934-1991.