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Bikini Kill Biography

Last updated: 11/03/2000 05:40:06 AM

Kathleen plays drums and bass on a few songs, Kathi sings and plays drums a couple of times and Tobi sings a few songs.

Bikini Kill formed in the late '80s at Olympia's liberal Evergreen College, where students Kathleen Hanna, Tobi Vail and Kathi Wilcox first teamed to publish a feminist fanzine, also dubbed Bikini Kill . Seeking to bring the publication's agenda to life, they decided to form a band, enlisting guitarist Billy Boredom (born William Karren) to round out the line-up. Led by singer-songwriter Hanna, a former stripper, the group laced their incendiary live performances with aggressive political stances which challenged the accepted hierarchy of the underground music community; slam dancers were forced to mosh at the fringes of the stage so that women could remain at the front of the crowd, for example, and female audience members were often invited to take control of the microphone to openly discuss issues of sexual abuse and misconduct.

In 1991, Bikini Kill issued its first recording, Revolution Girl Style Now, an independently-distributed demo cassette. For their first official release, the quartet signed with the aggressively independent Olympia-based label Kill Rock Stars; the Bikini Kill EP, produced by Fugazi's Ian Mackaye, consisted largely of reworked versions of material from the first cassette. In 1992, the band issued Yeah, Yeah, Yeah , a split 12-inch released with the British group Huggy Bear's Our Troubled Youth on its flipside; a subsequent U.K. tour with Huggy Bear in early 1993 raised the visibility of the Riot Grrrl groundswell to unprecedented heights, and the movement became the focus of many media outlets on both sides of the Atlantic.

When Bikini Kill returned to the U.S., they joined forces with Joan Jett, whom the band held up as an early paragon of Riot Grrrl aesthetics. Jett produced the group's next single, the bracing "New Radio"/"Rebel Girl," and Hanna returned the favor by co-writing the song "Spinster" for the Jett album Pure and Simple . In 1994, Bikini Kill released Pussy Whipped ; their most potent effort to date, it featured the songwriting emergence of both Vail and Wilcox, a trend continued on 1996's Reject All American . The group quietly disbanded in early 1998.