L7: Don’t Pretend They’re Dead
Legendary Californian rockers L7 were planning a trip to Australia before the Soundwave ship went down and took them with it. Joyfully for fans of the outfit, they’re coming back to make up for it. L7 will hit our shores this October for a country-wide headlining tour. Ahead of their trip down under, BLUNT had a chat to frontwoman Donita Sparks about the upcoming shows, why artists aren’t standing up and whether new music is on the way.
You guys are heading over here for an Australian tour this October. What made you guys want to persevere in getting here after the cancellation of Soundwave?
That was a bummer about Soundwave. We were really looking forward to that. But I think our fans at the end of the day prefer us in this kind of a setting anyway. So we’re super happy to be going down there. We’ve had a lot of love from Australia and we haven’t been there in so long.
You guys have had some crazy touring experiences, and its such a different music industry in 2016 compared to the 90s. Have any recent events compared to back in the day?
Well, let’s see, we are sort of flying into gigs right now. In Europe, we’re in a tour bus, but in the US we’re just kinda flying out for long weekends. So e’re not all that crazy with our touring stories just yet. But give us time! I’m sure we’ll have some. We’re going to Europe in August and then Australia, so we will be, I’m sure, racking up some good ones.
We’re very keen for them! L7 have played such a massive role in punk, and recently, Viv from The Slits made a statement at an art exhibition about women being shunned from punk history. Do you identify with that?
I’m sure it’s true. I don’t know exactly what examples they’re referring to, but I feel like maybe we were forgotten about compared to our grunge contemporaries. Sometimes people just forget about certain bands until it’s like “oh my god, I remember them. I used to have a CD until I got rid of all of my CDs”. So sometimes it’s good to remind people that there were other things going on – other than the things the media keeps going back to, time and time again.
You guys also played a huge part in promoting feminism in the music scene, but there’s still controversy about feminism still. People refuse to use the term even though it literally means equality. Do you have a stance on feminism in 2016?
I’ve always been a feminist. I was raised a feminist, when I first moved to LA in the 80s very few people said that they were feminists. Women were put down for saying they were feminists, you know, there was just a lot of ignorance. I think in the 90s, grunge’s greatest legacy is that it was so feminist. The boy bands were not doing the gross, sexist stuff that the metal bands were, and there were so many women playing music, and in bands, that it really helped kill off a lot of misogyny for a while in rock. And I think that should really be recognised, because there were just so many women playing. I still think there are a lot of women playing, just the hard rock world doesn’t have as many. I don’t even know if the hard rock world is as big as it was. I guess it’s not.
And now with the pop stars embracing the F word, I think that’s great, but to me it’s kind of sending this message that’s like “oh yeah! Fierce and feminist!” But the fierceness is about being really sexy and wearing no pants. Which is cool! Hey, that’s cool, if that’s your bag. But I’m not seeing a lot of women on the stage in the media that have pants on. Or that are not so concerned about looking hot. And I think that there’s a little bit of mixed messaging going on there.
“I’m not seeing a lot of women on the stage in the media that have pants on.”
Are there any artists that are making the huge statements that you guys were making back in the 90s?
I think that millennials are pretty smart about what’s going on. But I seem to think, you know, there was a study that was done that millennials already think that the end is already in motion. And the apocalypse has already happened, and we’re just living off the pieces right now. It’s a weird thing, but I suppose I don’t see as much activism in the younger bands, you know? Like in the 90s, we were doing Rock For Choice – we started Rock For Choice. The Beastie Boys created Free Tibet. Before that, there was Rock Against Racism, Rock Against Reagan…I don’t know. I may just not be aware of it, but I don’t see a whole lot of activism going on with some of the younger bands, and it’s kind of puzzling to me because I know that they’re smart enough to know that we’re in really fucked up times right now. So I don’t know, I don’t know what’s going on.
Just let me say one more thing. Like in the United States right now, bands, young bands, are not up in arms about the ridiculousness of the gun laws in this country after all the crazy shit has gone down. It’s like: what does it take for people to fucking get it together? And the environment, good god, look at the environment. I wish there was a little more anger out there. Some of these bands seem a little bit too content with…I don’t know. Being passive.
They’re writing songs about girls. Is there a possibility that you guys will be talking about any of this with new music coming out soon?
Possibly! We haven’t really spoken about it very much. Definitely, we don’t wanna take on doing an album right now. We’re having too much fun just kind of playing the live gigs. But next year, we might take a little break and think about recording the new songs. I don’t think any of us want that burden right now, or that pressure, I should say. Because we’re just having such a good time and we’re focusing so much on delivering the goods with the shows. Which I think we are.
Thurs Oct 6th – Capitol, Fremantle (18+)
Fri Oct 7th – The Gov, Adelaide (18+)
Tues Oct 11th – 170 Russell, Melbourne (18+) – SOLD OUT
Wed Oct 12th – 170 Russell, Melbourne (18+)
Fri Oct 14th – Eatons Hill Hotel, Brisbane (18+)
Sat Oct 15th – Metro Theatre, Sydney (18+)