send vinyl, tapes and zines for review to:
P.O. Box 2572
Olympia, WA 98507 USA
email mp3's, links, photos and flyers to: firstname.lastname@example.org
send vinyl, tapes and zines for review to:
tobi vail P.O. Box 2572 Olympia, WA 98507 USA
email mp3's, links, photos and flyers to:
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Sunday, October 27, 2013
listen to stillsuit here
JIGSAW: Describe the feminist punk scene in 2013.
Jaime: There is no "sound" or social clique that umbrellas the scene. It is more a "movement" (for lack of better word) of people and bands who are working towards at the very least events that feel comfortable and inclusive to everyone and at the most a world that feels inclusive to everyone. Death Drive, May B Knot, Centre, Best Friend/Girl Friend, Wizard Apprentice are only a few. All of these projects sound totally different from each other but everyone in them is completely inspiring and working on really cool shit outside of music as well.
Vanessa: (it's hard for me to answer this one because i've been a real curmudgeon about shows lately, hate everything) but there seems to be a resurgence of queer/feminist/ conscious of the fucked up world punk in the bay area in the past year or so. some bands are sbsm, believe, may b knot, crabapple, no babies, death drive.. an interesting thing is that while bands might have similar politics, they all sound totally different- from electronic or dancey stuff to stuff to variations on punk stuff. permanent ruin and replica are good hardcore bands that are happening here, alabaster choad is a great band that doesn't exist anymore.
JIGSAW: Who are your favorite bands to play with?
J: We just finished a month-long tour with Death Drive and Velvet Chains, which is the solo project of Ryan from Death Drive. Those are my favorite bands to play with. Not only is Death Drive a really fucking good band, they are amazing people and we were incredibly fortunate to get to spend so much time with them. I got home from tour feeling refreshed and excited as opposed to drained and grouchy, I credit Marissa and Vanessa and the Death Drive crew for that outcome.
Marissa: I kind of like playing shows with shredder dude type bands because I always think of it as this really cool challenge. Last years tour it felt like we were playing a lot of shows with dudes with guitars doing things that were maybe technically challenging but altogether boring. I definitely spent a lot of time watching these bands and just waiting to annihilate them. It happens a lot where we’ll get the cold shoulder until after we play. I honestly see myself as a relatively inept guitar player but I also view this as a large aspect of my style of playing. My style is messy chaos, it’s ripping off slash but not trying to copy him. I also like playing shows with hardcore bands. We played a show in St. Louis with a band of teenage girls that had a definite Flying Lizards vibe to it which was really cool, they’re called Willis. In Philadelphia we played with this absolutely mind blowing band called swarm. They had two drummers, a bassist, and a singer and then three dancers that were also singing for the whole time in like a chorus type way. It was interesting I realized that we only played legit establishments like 3 times out of a month long tour, everything was mostly basements.
V: Playing with death drive was really great. being on tour with them kinda made me feel excited about music in a way i hadn't in a while. i feel like i hadn't danced so much to a band in a long time. i like shows in small places put on by nice nerds. minneapolis was also a great show, we played at a friends' house and all the bands were really good, there's a really good band from there called tips for twat- we played with them last year and they were my new favorite band. also gula gila, from chicago are really awesome. i like house shows with easy load in situations the best really.
JIGSAW: What are your songs about?
M: Vanessa and I write lyrics pretty separately, occasionally we’ll fill each other in on what we are singing about or even write like a chorus that we both sing. I tend to write stuff about mental illness, feminist identity politics and critiques of the world around me and how I’m treated as a woman in the world. My lyrics on 5656 are based on an essay by Jo Freeman pertaining to feminist trashing. There's really only four lines “deny reality/infect but don’t admit/do I still exist?/am I in my head?" The first two lines are mainly about passive aggressive exclusion of someone in order to make them go away, the last two lines are referring to a part of the essay where Freeman talks about during being trashed, essentially being passively aggressively blacklisted, she began to believe she was a figment of her own imagination. There is another song 9 that I really like the lyrics of and the origins of the lyrics – I was really really upset by the death of Whitney Houston which was weird because I never really considered myself a fan or anything but when she died I cried for days and as was just so upset. As with anytime when it seems like the whole world is upset about something people come out of the woodwork saying what about the starving children or the victims of war and whatever other world atrocity you can think of and why aren’t you upset about that? This implies that it is somehow not possible to be upset over the death of a celebrity while also being upset about any other injustice in the world. It’s ridiculous. Not to mention I find it pretty fucked up to be lectured on what is and is not appropriate to be mourned. So on that song some of my lyrics are “which atrocity is worth it? which atrocity deserves it? who am I to decide?” which is pretty self explanatory
JIGSAW: Is playing in a band a viable political action?
M: As a band we have definitely talked about being blatantly political. I think a lot of the time we end up preaching to the choir in a lot of ways which is fine. It’s interesting because we’re not doing anything that I kind of default to when I think of being political, we’re not really lecturing crowds or handing out pamphlets or anything, but it’s real that we play music that is pretty traditionally gendered as male and that is a political act in and of itself. That idea also applies to things like playing at girls rock camp and picking specific songs to demonstrate specific ideas, like for that we made a point of playing a song that heavily features a guitar solo –or how we end up playing a good amount of shows where we are the only performers who aren't cis-men. I also consider it political that we put out our own record sans crowd sourcing and we make a point of having free access to everything we've put out. I think all of these things are import at the same time I don’t know if we are necessarily effecting change.
V: i think culture is still a really good place to struggle, if for nothing else than being a performer, being a decent person, demystifying the idea of playing music playing in a band. i want to show that we're just totally regular nedrs who just figured out how to make music in our own way, and that that is something anyone can do.
JIGSAW: Does Girls Rock Camp reinforce the gender binary? If yes, what way do you see around that limitation?
J: Retrospect is 20/20, I think that given hindsight the founders of girls rock camp would have named it otherwise. i don't have experience working with any other rock camps, but have been very involved with bay area girls rock camp for over 5 years and i think that "girls" and "rock" wouldn't likely be included in the name of that organization given a chance to do it all over. again, i only have experience with bagrc, and can't speak for every rock camp out there, but i don;t think rock camp reinforces the gender binary in that it is open to and serves not only girls but also gender non-conforming youth. the body of volunteers in mentorship roles represents a huge spectrum of gender identities as well. there is a constant and on-going discussion around gender during programs; we talk a ton about gender expression, respect campers' pronoun preferences, and witness a lot of gender exploration under the rock camp roof. the bummer thing about the name is that gender non-conforming youth potentially face having to out themselves or be read as a gender they don't identify as as to the "rock" question, very few of the songs turn out sounding anything like traditional "rock" music. yes, the instruments involved make up the stereotypical rock band (with the exception of turntables, which rock camp has offered in the past), but most of the campers have no background in western music theory or experience playing on their own or with others. some songs definitely have a "rock" vibe, but most songs are more on the punk or experimental tip. right now there is a really good R&B band that formed during a 2012 summer session. they are called True Religion, keep your ears to the ground for them.
M: At this point I feel like it just happens to be called girls rock camp – there's options beyond just the traditional rock instruments and while there is the big element of forming a band I don’t think its like meant to be a breeding ground to produce more women playing rock, its more about self-esteem and a way to express yourself and something that you can do with your body beyond sex and childbirth. I think of it as being similar to sports in this sense. Forming bands is more of an exercise in learning how to collaborate and work with others the rock is just a means to an end. When I was working on ladyfest 2005 I remember one of the other planners at some point said something along the lines of “I don’t necessarily identify with being a woman but I do identify with oppression.” And that really struck me –recently some people organized a ladyfest here in the bay area and while it definitely wasn’t sticking to gender binary in content it still had this name that seemed outdated. Also queer rock camp in olympia is specifically moving beyond this boundary
Monday, June 3, 2013
INTRODUCTION: I am an author/fanzine editor featured in this book. My contribution includes excerpts from Jigsaw #1 1989, Bikini Kill #1 1990/91, Bikini Kill #2 1991, various correspondence and flyers/graphics. I am enjoying reading The Riot Grrrl Collection and I think it looks fantastic. I would like to thank everyone involved in making this happen. I appreciate all of your hard work. I fully support this project and I am looking forward to seeing what people have to say about The Riot Grrrl Collection after they read it. I know I am not alone in welcoming critical, analytical responses to this document and the history that it represents.
I will post a full review when I've finished reading the book but I already have a lot to say so I will start with the introduction. First of all, there are some factual details I would like to correct, question and/or add to the book. I am keeping a running list of mistakes or questionable claims, as I do every time a book is written that includes local history that I have witnessed/taken part in. This is one way history gets revised so I don’t want to just ignore errors or inconsistencies. History that is being written and recorded is contestable terrain.
So far this is what I have down:
Lisa's intro to The Riot Grrrl Collection ends with a quote from Girl Germs #3:
“If you are sitting there reading this and you feel like you might be a riot grrrl then you probably are so call yourself one”
She attributes the quote to me, Tobi Vail, but this should be credited to Molly Neuman.
When I first read this I thought -
I don’t think I would have ever said this, I don’t remember ever feeling this way about riot grrrl, I actually remember feeling like it was really important to acknowledge that many of us (myself included) were a bit apprehensive about calling ourselves riot grrrls for legitimate reasons.
This is obviously a-whole-nother article but, in short, some of these reasons included class, race, sexuality, gender expression as well as theoretical differences – for example, following feminist/political theorists such as bell hooks, Judith Butler, Alison Jaggar, Michel Foucault, Joan Cocks, Elizabeth Spelman, Angela Davis - not wanting to universalize a utopian idea of sisterhood or promote an essentialist idea of gender. I also had problems witnessing what I later learned is called the oppression Olympics (see Elizabeth Martinez) and some of the self-serving misuses of identity politics that I saw happening in the riot grrrl scene. There were also strategic differences – like wanting to play in bands and make zines but not wanting to go to C.R. type meetings (but still respecting those who did go to meetings, blah blah blah....) and in general, being focused on trying to build a culture of resistance rather than wanting to get involved in more traditional forms of political organizing, which, at the time, I felt were ineffective in that they no longer spoke to young people. Then the media coverage happened and it got even more confusing/alienating adding all these additional layers and layers of complexity...one being that I was not interested in being a leader or a star or taking part in a feminist movement that had leaders or stars. I was interested in encouraging and participating in radical, anti-capitalist, non-hierarchical, diffuse, localized feminist movement/scenes/action and was trying to help build an international network through punk rock /d.i.y. /underground music culture that connected us via bands and zine-making – I wasn’t really focused on A NAME, I thought there should be multiple names and mutability and when riot grrrl started to seem to represent something else it didn’t speak to me so much AS A NAME…I thought it would keep moving, evolving, changing, growing – now, of course, that whole time/place is known as “riot grrrl” and you have to just say, yes ok, that is the term, fine, I surrender.
This is all to say that YEAH - I understood the hesitancy to call yourself a riot grrrl as something to respect and not something to gloss over. You could be a feminist, a punk feminist even, a self-identified grrrl even, a member of a so-called “riot grrrl band” and not feel represented by that category.
I thought about it some more…
I thought, MAYBE, it is POSSIBLE that the quote is mine. MAYBE I felt this way once a long, long, time ago - way back at the very beginning of riot grrrl…the year before it started…the summer it started, the month it started, the week it started, the day it started…that long hot summer evening in Malcolm X Park…in a secret grrrl gang solidarity letter to Jen Smith that spring? Before meetings were happening and it all was just this big utopian dream of revolution that some of us girls were using as a metaphor - or maybe a dare - as a way to imagine and talk about what a feminist network of action would actually look like, as a way of getting to that next step, as a way to create a feminist future, as a way of asking for back up or to gather an army?
When I look back at some of my writing in Jigsaws #2-#4 I see some of this kind of hopeful romanticism there in the form of sisterly sloganeering and it’s not totally formulated on paper yet but it is inspired and it did inspire others to action, it did get me from point a to point b to point c, and so - YES - maybe I could have written this but I don’t remember feeling it. That makes sense, as a lot of emotions you experience as a young person are hard to feel or even relate to later in life. Perhaps this is just something I blocked from my memory years ago? Hmmm.
But then I noticed that the quote was credited to an issue of Girl Germs. I didn’t write for Girl Germs. Molly Neuman and Allison Wolfe were the editors/main writers of Girl Germs and I don’t remember ever contributing any writing or being interviewed for Girl Germs but, again, I thought maybe I had forgotten? So I looked around and started rereading Girl Germs #3, which is included in the Riot Grrrl Collection in its entirety, and I found it - see page 78 of the book, page 27 of the fanzine - as a part of Molly’s Top Ten (Extended Dance Remix) under the sub heading "#9 riot grrrl":
I encourage those of us who were participants to comment on the historical record, to tell our version of what happened, to record our memories and thoughts and find a way to share them. If you are reading "riot grrrl" zines for the first time I look forward to finding out how someone in 2013 will hear what we had to say about the world 20 or more years ago when we were much younger.
Ok, that's it for now! Back to the book.
Monday, May 6, 2013
my friend marina gagarina made this cool animated movie to help out her friend kim. kim's tiny house burned down in a mysterious fire as it was near completion:
if you believe in community & sustainability please consider making a donation of $1 or more, thanks!
p.s. while I have yr attention, why don't you check out marina's existential masterpiece, westside elegies?
Sunday, March 31, 2013
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Saturday, March 2, 2013
Last night I left the coziness of my apartment - where I was happily reading Who I Am by Pete Townshend - to venture across downtown to catch a new girl group from Seattle called La Luz. They are a little hyped already and friends were sort of skeptical about them, the way people get when anything is hyped.
I looked them up and found their music to be pretty great sounding - a nice mix of surf guitar, reminiscent of Shadowy Men from a Shadowy Planet, and contemporary girl group singing that references Frankie Rose, Dum Dum Girls, Coasting, Vivian Girls, Best Coast, Bleached - what some call femme pop. It's arguable whether or not any of those groups should be put into the same category but I do sort of do that in my head. I think they all reference 60's girl groups as filtered through The Ramones and The Jesus and Mary Chain/ C86 but adding a very modern version of a 60's reverb/often digital lo-fi sound to the mix. (Of course each group I listed is different and genre is mostly arbitrary/problematic so keep in mind that all these bands can also be put into different categories with other groups that may or may not share their gender based on different aspects of their sound.)
Live La Luz was a bit awkward. They are solid musicians but seem the type who read music and may not have a lot of experience letting loose in a rock-n-roll group. Or something. I guess I would put them in the pop realm actually. More like The Fleetwoods or Jan and Dean than The Stooges or Velvet Underground. They were very clean-cut and wholesome in their image. I don't know if that is a conscious decision or not but it is something I noticed in their presentation. Because women are so often judged by our appearance I am hesitant to even bring up their use of style, but playing a show and being in a band, you do have a visual presentation component at work that is there whether you discuss it or not. Watching their show I couldn't really figure them out! They seem like "formalists" to me, which is kind of an indie thing where people are interested in working in a certain form or genre and exploring the formalistic elements of songwriting.
Before I went to see them I read an interview with them that rubbed me the wrong way. They made a remark about how they think they are better musicians than most girls in bands. They did pay lip service to the idea that being new to an instrument creates a rawness that you may not be able to achieve as you become a better player, but the remark still stung and hung in the air. I know what it's like to be in a new group and I know how interviews go but one thing to be aware of when you are a girl in a band is to try not to say anything in an interview that will give the reporter an opportunity to feed into sexist stereotypes about girls in bands. Essentially they gave the magazine a chance to reinforce the stereotype that girls can't play their instruments. If you are going to talk about musicianship, why talk about it in terms of gender at all? Also, it is a mistake to think that playing in a certain 'musician-y' style is somehow more difficult than another style. Playing a lot of notes for me is actually easier than playing just a few for example. But when I play too many notes people notice that I am a good drummer. However, I am often not serving the song or the group when I do that. Often what the song needs is just some simple beats on the floor tom. But then, I am into repetition and minimalism as an aesthetic choice.
After they were done playing I noticed my friends had left without saying goodbye. The same friends who had talked me into leaving my cozy apartment to join them at the show! I received a message on my phone explaining that the band was "Hallmark, blah blah blah". I don't know what that means exactly but maybe it's a reference to their visual presentation. The music was nice. I liked it a lot. I thought the drummer played too many notes but they compensated for this nicely with their vocal lines, which reminded me of Neu or Stereolab. Wavering between a few drawn out notes, the vocals achieve a nice droning affect. Harmonizing drove the tension through the song the way the drums normally do in rock-n-roll. The bass player used her fingers and was understated and solid. They had a new keyboard player who sang well, this was her first show with the group. The drummer seemed the most comfortable being on stage. Her drum set sounded fantastic, nicely tuned and played with the finesse of someone who has had lessons or played in high school jazz band. The singer/guitarist made an effort to rock out and smile and I enjoyed her warmth and graciousness towards the audience. She said this was their first show outside Olympia. They played a long set.
I don't know if I would go see them again but I will probably listen to their tape for years. I guess that sounding nice is enough to get me to listen but maybe not enough to get me to go to a show. I am left wondering what it means to be in a band in 2013. At the very least it is nice to see a group of young women collaborating together on a fully realized musical project.
Monday, February 11, 2013
1. Stop playing shows in bars when you can afford to - in other words - if you live in the NW don't play a bar here, demand to play an all ages venue instead. No excuses, please.
2. Stop going to bars you hate that you go to anyway because people you know will be there, Etc. There are other ways to be social and see your friends. If I go out to a bar for a drink it is ALWAYS at Ben Moore's because that place rules and if they went out of business Olympia would suck. When I go to The Reef it is for pie and coffee because that is what they do best. When I go elsewhere, reluctantly, I might have one drink but I might just have a cup of coffee and gorge myself on water or chips and salsa or something.
3. Make a point of supporting all ages shows by paying to attend them regularly. Do not try to get in free to an all ages show. Pay extra when you can afford it. Even if you are on the guest list. If there is a bar show and an all ages show on the same night, go to the all ages show before going to the bar show.
4. Try to spend large chunks of time NOT DRINKING on a regular basis - I celebrate sober February, June and October every year. For me this breaks the habit of drinking out of sheer boredom or whatever and goes along with a cleanse I do during those months. If you have trouble with this step there are resources that can help you quit drinking.
5. Start a regular exercise program that is goal-oriented. When you wake up early to run 5 miles on your day off you don't wanna be hungover (unless you are The Country Teasers, but that is another story). Likewise, you stop feeling tempted by happy hour after work when you know you have to be done at the Y before 9pm. Drummers are natural runners. We need to be in shape in order to play our best. Do it for the band.
6. Playing in a band, you end up at a lot of parties. As a general rule I try to limit myself to 7 drinks per week, which is pretty easy for me, except when touring in a band that plays bars/house parties every night. I am prone to drinking more than usual in social situations (the music scene, duh) where people drink a lot. I also have a lot of friends who are alcoholics (musicians, duh) so it started to seem normal to me to sit in a bar for hours. When I toured with The Old Haunts I made a rule where I had one drink before we played and one drink after. Every once in awhile I'd party (San Pedro comes to mind...) but I tried to keep it in check. As the drinking started to escalate on those tours I decreased my intake to less than one drink a day. I drink minimally nowadays - I'd say on average 2 or 3 drinks a week. I still like to celebrate birthdays and holidays and friend reunions with a party - but that's fine, parties are for SPECIAL OCCASIONS , remember? Like, hanging out in Spain or London on vacation or three day weekends or whatever. Not for everyday life. Everyday life is for writing songs and letters and reading books and going swimming and working on stuff. Creativity vs. destruction. We have to balance these forces.
7. DO NOT make the move from playing in a band to DJing in a bar. Nothing against DJing - it's just that I don't want to be a part of the reason why people come out to a bar to drink, EVER. DJ a house party, DJ your apartment, DJ the streets. Don't DJ in a bar (unless it's your job…but you know what? there are better jobs out there…) If you are a DJ-for-Life please make a point of DJing all ages events on a regular basis and please make a point of DJing sober on a regular basis. It sets a good example and it will keep you healthy and that will make you the best DJ you can be.
JIGSAW FANZINE SAYS:
END THE BAR SCENE NOW
BE GOOD TO YRSELF
DEVELOP HEALTHY HABITS
WELLNESS PUNKS RULE, OK???
Friday, January 18, 2013
BAND TO WATCH IN 2013: MOONFAVORITE LIVE ACT: Госкино BEST COUNTER-HEGEMONIC PUNK GROUP WHO FUCK SHIT UP: DICK BINGE BEST OUT OF TOWN SHOW: THE CORIN TUCKER BAND IN BROOKLYN FAVORITE ART EVENT: FREAKAPUSS LIVE - EXCURSUS III (OOGA BOOGA AT ICA PHILLY) RECORD THAT GREW ON ME THAT I DIDN'T LIKE AT FIRST: FRANKIE ROSE - INTERSTELLAR FAVORITE BAND TO PLAY WITH: REYNOSA RECORD FROM 2012 LISTENED TO MOST SO FAR IN 2013: DUM DUM GIRLS - END OF DAZE RECORDS FROM 2011 LISTENED TO MOST IN 2012: BLEACHED 7"s FAVORITE DEMO BY LOCAL PUNK KIDS: SPIRITUAL WARRIORS RECORD THAT GETS STUCK IN MY HEAD THAT I LOVE/HATE: DIE ANTWOORD - TEN$SION BAND I WANTED TO SEE LIVE MORE OFTEN BUT THEY MOVED AWAY: SEWN LEATHER BEST NO RAVE BAND: UNCANNY VALLEY FAVORITE SONG I WROTE: SPIDER AND THE WEBS - LEAVING LAWRENCE (TO HIS WAVES) BEST FEMINIST ALBUM ABOUT GENTRIFICATION: GRASS WIDOW - INTERNAL LOGIC KILLER POP ALBUM MADE BY A SINGER SONGWRITER: CAT POWER - SUN BEST PUNK RECORD: WEIRD TV 12" FAVORITE DANCE TRACK: MIA - BAD GIRLS BEST INDIE RECORD: DEEP TIME - DEEP TIME KILLEREST HIPPY JAM: THE FAMILY STONED - HIGH TIME WOMAN II FAVORITE TOP 40 POP SONG: MADONNA - GIVE ME ALL YOUR LUVIN' PUNKEST UNDERGROUND ANTHEM: HIVE DWELLERS - GET IN FAVORITE FEMINIST POP ALBUM: COASTING - YOU'RE NEVER GOING BACK LP CATCHIEST PIECE OF CULTURAL CRITICISM: CHAIN AND THE GANG - CERTAIN KINDS OF TRASH FAVORITE RECORD GIVEN TO ME AS A GIFT: PATTI SMITH - BANGA MOST MEANINGFUL SONG TO ME PERSONALLY: CORIN TUCKER BAND - I DON'T WANNA GO
PRETTIEST RECORDING BY AN AVANT INDIE ARTIST: BROKEN WATER - CHANTALFAVORITE BAND TO DANCE TO LIVE: NEONATES BEST NEW HARDCORE PUNK BAND FROM OLYMPIA: GAG FAVORITE WEDDING SONG: TED LEO'S DIGITAL LOVE (DAFT PUNK) FOR MOLLY AND ALEX GREATEST NW PUNK GROUP: MECCA NORMAL
FAVORITE RAPPER: AZAELIA BANKSFANZINE: NUTS! PUNKEST INDIE ALBUM: HUNX AND HIS PUNX - TOO YOUNG TO BE IN LOVE FAVORITE DOOMY AMBIENT RECORD: EARTH - ANGEL OF DARKNESS, DEMON OF LIGHT ii SHOW OF THE YEAR: GRASS WIDOW & THE RAINCOATS IN SEATTLE KILLER RECORD TO LISTEN TO ON REPEAT: SONSKULL - WIPED CLEAN 12" EP BEST NW GARAGE PUNKS: HOODED HAGS FAVORITE FEMINIST PUNK SINGER: MISH WAY FROM WHITE LUNG BEST ROCK MEMOIR: COAL TO DIAMONDS BY BETH DITTO (WITH MICHELLE TEA)