Bikini Kill on Riot Grrrl’s Legacy, Taping Over Nirvana Cassettes
Wilcox: I think it’s definitely better. I think it was really hard for all of us to be good friends in Bikini Kill because it was such a stressful band, and we were so young, and we were all reacting to what was going on. That was more like survival mode, in that band. It was kind of tough for friendships to survive. But ours did. We haven’t worked together for 20 years, because there was 10 years in the middle there with Le Tigre, but we stayed friends during that time.
Hanna: Yeah, we visited and stuff like that. I think we had time to process what had happened. I was able to ask Kathi like, “Oh, do you remember when this thing happened?” And she’d be like, “I didn’t perceive it like that at all.”
Wilcox: You kind of realize that everyone is having their own experience of the same situation. It was definitely interesting to compare notes.
Hanna: Yeah, and in comparing notes, I think we got over some stuff. Like, in The Punk Singer — the awesome biopic of my life, out now! [both laugh] — there’s a part where Kathi says something like, “You couldn’t find anybody better to be the frontperson of your band.” I was like, “Whoa, she thinks that?” Which, of course, this is our second band together; it’s kind of a no-brainer. But everybody has their own insecurities. So it was kind of cool to be able to hear that. It gave me one of those things in my head to remember before we play when I’m not feeling too confident.
Wilcox: It’s so funny because I always think of you as such a super-confident person. Like, especially when we first met, even before Bikini Kill. You had total bravado. It’s funny to me that you wouldn’t automatically assume you were a great frontperson.
Hanna: That’s always the way things are: tough exterior and the soft interior.
As far as Bikini Kill Records goes, do you have any other plans? Would you release music by other bands?
Wilcox: We’ll reissue the rest of the records. I think we want to keep it just to our records.
Hanna: I’ve always had the secret hope that Tobi would decide she’d want to take that [releasing albums by other bands] on and do it. It could be a really cool thing, because she has really good taste in music. At the same time, I think there are a lot of good labels right now that are supporting feminist bands, so it’s not really necessary, which is actually kind of exciting.
Recently, the mayor of Boston declared April 9th to be “Riot Grrrl Day” in Kathleen’s honor. But in a proclamation, he said that “riot grrrl philosophy has never felt more relevant.” Do you agree with that?
Hanna: It was really strange, because Bikini Kill as a band never had great experiences in Boston [laughs]. Our shows tended to be very violent and scary there, so it was really surreal to be handed that. It was written out in the way I had written this riot grrrl manifesto, my own personal one. To have something that was just in our fanzine be translated through the government was weird.
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