L7 were an all-female Grunge
band from Los Angeles, active between 1985 and 2000. Its members were as follows:
- Donita Sparks - guitar, vocals
- Suzi Gardner - guitar, vocals
- Jennifer Finch - bass, vocals (1987-1996)
- Gail Greenwood - bass, vocals (1996-1999)
- Janis Tanaka - bass guitar (1999-2000)
- Demetra "Dee" Plakas - drums, vocals (1988-2000)
The band was formed by Donita Sparks and Suzi Gardner, the latter having already been quite known in the Alternative Rock
scene for performing vocals on "Slip It In" by Black Flag
. Their name derives from a fifties
slang word for "square".
After recording two albums that showcased their punk-grunge-metal sound but didn't really go anywhere, L7 really shot to public attention by organising the first Rock for Choice benefit concert in 1991, which not only attracted support from the Alternative Rock
, Pearl Jam
, Rage Against the Machine
, Joan Jett
, Bikini Kill
and the Red Hot Chili Peppers
all played at it), but helped galvanize the Riot Grrrl
movement then forming in Washington. While the band did sport an angry, heavy sound and lyrics frequently dealing with criticisms of society, they never self-identified with the Riot Grrrl
On the heels of their newfound attention, L7 signed with major label Slash Records and brought in Record Producer
Butch Vig to work on their new album, Bricks Are Heavy
. Upon release, Heavy
became the band's breakthrough hit and provided them with their Signature Song
, "Pretend We're Dead". During the accompanying tour, the band gained some notoriety for their performance at the Reading Festival, when Donita Sparks removed her used tampon on-stage and threw it into the crowd yelling "Eat my used tampon, fuckers!" in protest against the mud being thrown by the crowd (apparently, mud-throwing at Reading was/is a sign of popular approval). The crowd then threw the tampon back on stage at the band.
In 1995, the band played as the supporting band for a version of hide
's single "Oblaat." This clip is on Youtube, and occasionally known for inducing Viewer Gender Confusion
on a massive scale.
L7 then started changing their sound, removing their punk influences in favour of a straightforward grunge/alt-metal sound. While the first album after this change, Hungry for Stink
, did pretty well (one of its songs, "Fuel My Fire", was later covered by The Prodigy
), their next two albums performed worse and worse commercially and the band suffered from lineup instability. They have been on what they call an "indefinite hiatus" since 2001 but have, for all intents and purposes, disbanded.
- L7 (1988)
- Smell the Magic (1990)
- Bricks are Heavy (1992)
- Hungry for Stink (1994)
- The Beauty Process: Triple Platinum (1997)
- Slap-Happy (1999)
- Bite The Wax Tadpole: The first song on their first album is called that.
- Cover Version: The Prodigy covered "Fuel My Fire" as the last track on The Fat of the Land. Arguably a case of Covered Up, actually.
- L7 themselves have covered: "Yummy Yummy Yummy" (Ohio Express), "Suzy Is A Headbanger" (Ramones), "Bag" (Shonen Knife), "Bloodstains" (Agent Orange), "Let's Lynch The Landlord" (Dead Kennedys), "Cherry Bomb" (The Runaways), "Hanging On The Telephone" (The Nerves, but better known by Blondie), "Three Days" (Willie Nelson), "Lion's Share" (The Germs), and "This Ain't The Summer Of Love" (Blue Öyster Cult).
- In a combination of Cover Version, Rearrange the Song, and being the backing band for the original artist, the cover/Rearrange the Song of hide's Oblaat. hide was the singer and lead guitar, with L7 as the backing band instead of his usual male solo band Spread Beaver. This is probably the song they were known most well for (especially outside of their existing fans) aside from Pretend We're Dead.
- Epic Rocking: "Shove"
- Pretend We're Dead: Trope Namer, In Name Only (the song seems to actually be a rant against oppressive machismo).
- Single Stanza Song: "Bite the Wax Tadpole"