- 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 scene (Nirvana, 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 movement.
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.
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.
...that is, until late 2014, when rumblings of a reunion proved fruitful and the band reunited with Donita Sparks, Suzi Gardner, Jennifer Finch and Demetra Plakas. They got a Kickstarter page going for an L7 documentary, and quickly booked some 2015 tour dates.
The reunion encouraged the band to work on some new material. A new single, "Burn Baby / Fighting the Crave" premiered in April of 2019, on Record Store Day. 20 years after their last album, they finally released their seventh, Scatter The Rats in May of 2019.
- L7 (1988)
- Smell the Magic (1990)
- Bricks are Heavy (1992)
- Hungry for Stink (1994)
- The Beauty Process: Triple Platinum (1997)
- Slap-Happy (1999)
- Scatter The Rats (2019)
- Badass Boast: "Gas Chamber" in a particularly dark way. The narrator boasts that the only way you'll stop her from talking shit is to just straight-up kill her.
- Bite the Wax Tadpole: The first song on their first album is called that.
- The Cameo: You can see them in the movie Serial Mom under the name Camel Lips. They play their own composition, "Gas Chamber."
- Careful with That Axe: On most tracks, be prepared for a belligerent, nasal whine to swiftly become very loud screaming.
- 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" (The 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.
- Delinquents: At least, that's the image they give off.David Letterman: [after a destructive performance by the band] I hope the girls aren't starting to run around with the wrong crowd.
- Epic Rocking: "Uncle Bob" and "Talk Box" both crack the 6-minute mark.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Subverted. "Talk Box" does live up to its title and has the titular effect throughout the song, though it's slightly buried in the mix underneath the (typically) loud guitars.
- Grunge: Via their own brand of metal-infused punk rock.
- Looped Lyrics: Lots of this on the B-Side "Used To Love Him."
- Metal Scream: Get used to this.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: At least a 7, which is only appropriate.
- Not My Lucky Day: "Shove" goes like this. Among the rotten things that go wrong are the IRS calling, the landlord not liking the narrator's dog, her father thinking she's amounting to nothing, some guy pinching her ass, the club not paying them for performing, and on top of all that, it's been months since she's been laid. Fittingly, this bitchfest of a song was featured in Tank Girl, where the titular heroine really gets put through the ringer.
- Pretend We're Dead: Trope Namer, In Name Only (the song seems to actually be a rant against oppressive machismo).
- Refuge in Audacity:
- You did read that tampon thing earlier, right?
- Donita Sparks also pulled her pants down during a performance on UK series The Word. She wasn't wearing underwear.
- Roommate Drama: "Slide" from Bricks Are Heavy is what happens when Suzi Gardner has had more than enough of this trope, and kicks out the roommate in question along with all his stuff. Said roommate is implied to be a freeloading boyfriend (ex-boyfriend, by the end of the song).
- Single Stanza Song: "Bite the Wax Tadpole."
- Three Chords and the Truth: Played loud as shit on both counts.
- Title-Only Chorus: "Riding With A Movie Star." In fact, those are the only lyrics.
- Also, "Gas Chamber" and "Baggage."