For Bratmobile singer Allison Wolfe, bringing the band together again after five years
was not necessarily about revisiting the past.
"I don't really want to go much further into the past than [1994's The Real
Janelle]," said Wolfe, 29, who since has formed the group Deep Lust after her other
band Cold Cold Hearts broke up last year. "Lyrically, I'm just not really there anymore.
But Molly and Erin are musicians I really want to play with."
Rather, all three members -- Wolfe, guitarist Erin Smith and drummer Molly Neuman --
say they're excited to pick up where the band left off, particularly since they didn't get to
tour much behind The Real Janelle EP.
Of all the bands thrust into the spotlight with the early 1990s riot-grrrl scene, only
Bratmobile opted for quitting while they were ahead. The three-piece outfit played a few
shows after the release of The Real Janelle, then called it a day to pursue other
interests. But when the bandmembers met up at a Washington, D.C., show featuring San
Francisco Bay Area punkers the Donnas last December, they couldn't help but bandy
about the idea of playing together again.
One conversation led to another. Pretty soon, the group was once again, theoretically at
least, a working unit. They're scheduled to play five dates with post-riot-grrrls
Sleater-Kinney at the end of March, with either a new single or album to follow.
"We said, 'Let's just get together and practice, see what it's like and if we can make up
new songs,' " Neuman, 27, said.
Since retiring Bratmobile, the drummer took up the sticks for the now-defunct Peechees.
She's also general manager for Berkeley, Calif.'s Lookout Records. "Things used to
happen for us really quickly," she said. "We used to make up our songs in, like, five
minutes. So we'll see if that happens."
During their three-year tenure, the Washington, D.C.-based Bratmobile were part of the
active Pacific Northwest/Washington punk axis that also spawned such acclaimed
riot-grrrl groups as Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney precursors Heavens to Betsy.
"Allison Wolfe is one of the best singer/songwriters of our generation," said Kathleen
Hanna, former frontwoman for Bikini Kill, who now records under the name Julie Ruin.
"And Erin is the most amazing guitar player."
The endearing obnoxiousness of Bratmobile's "Cool Schmool" quickly gave way to the
more intricate style of songs such as the title track to The Real Janelle. The band's
melodic influence is evident in more recent songs, such as Sleater-Kinney's
Wolfe and Smith, who still live in the nation's capital, are gearing up to spend the second
half of February in the Bay Area writing new material with Neuman.
"It's kind of nice doing everything in concentration," the 26-year-old Smith said. "It seems
kind of scary to most people. But we've always worked well that way. We always had to
work that way before, because we were all at different colleges. We wrote and recorded
Real Janelle in about a week."
For Neuman, the key to making a second run with Bratmobile successful will be not
over-analyzing the group's earlier work.
"We were kids when we started this band," she said. "Bratmobile's kind of sing-songy,
and super-straightforward. We've all evolved musically. One of my concerns is A, that it'll
be boring to play the old songs, or B, that I'll try to make them more interesting and then
f--- them up."