L7: Still Hip to be Square
"We're a loud family," former bass player Jennifer Finch once said of L7. While their latest CD, The Beauty Process: Triple Platinum, shows a growing maturity in terms of song writing and composition, Finch's statement is still true. Guitars, bass, and drums are cranked really, really high. Though it's a comparison they're sick of hearing, these four women rock harder, and have a ballsier sound than most any other band currently playing.L7 (a term from the '50s meaning "square"), was formed by guitarists/vocalists Donita Sparks and Suzi Gardner in 1985. They were joined the following year by Finch. In '87 they signed with Epitaph Records (beating out Jane's Addiction for the spot), and released their first, self-titled CD. After a disastrous first tour they recruited Dee Plakas as new drummer.Since then their career has been a varied one. They have opened for Nirvana, been produced by Butch Vig (currently of Garbage), and been with several labels. Their 1992 hit, "Pretend We're Dead," became something of an anthem, making them a somewhat less obscure, yet still unknown, band.In 1993 they appeared in the John Waters film Serial Mom as the band Camel Lips. They spent the summer of '94 ripping out eardrums cross-country with Lollapalooza. Recently, Finch left the band to go back to school and has been replaced by Gail Greenwood, former bass player with Belly.Through it all they've maintained a sense of humor to balance out the anger their music expressed. Their music is aggressive, their outspoken lyrics are filled with outrage at the stupidity of the world (best expressed on the new album by the song "The Masses Are Asses"), and they are obviously having a really good time. Their stage antics and public appearances are typically filled with an irreverence that shows they don't take "rock stardom" all that seriously. The freedom that comes with performing allows them a venue for expressing their beliefs as well as exorcising their frustrations.Perhaps the most outspoken thing they have done was to form Rock For Choice in 1991, an organization founded to raise awareness of civil liberties and a woman's right to a safe, legal abortion." There have been a number of benefit concerts, and in 1993 L7 received the "Feminist of the Year" Award from the Feminist Majority Foundation for their efforts.Since that time Rock For Choice has become a full-time concern, and L7 have stepped back from their roles in it somewhat, though they still act as consultants.Fresh off a stint opening for Marilyn Manson, L7 is once again ready to conquer the world. If that doesn't happen, again, they'll just crank up the volume, scream out their anger, and have a really good time.For more info on Rock For Choice write Rock For Choice, 8105 W. 3rd St., #1, Los Angeles, CA 90048.