L7 - FOUR CORNERS OF A HOT BOX

By: Mike Heck


L7 does not mean square...L7 is more like four corners of a hot box ready to blow up in your face. The four girls that make up L7, (Donita Sparks - guitar/vocals, Suzi Gardner - guitar/vocals, Jennifer Finch - bass/vocals and Dee Plakas - drums/background vocals) are the female version of IGGY & THE STOOGES for the 90's. Don't compare L7 to the RUNAWAYS though ("THE RUNAWAYS were a Kim Fowley experiment" states bassist Jennifer Finch) their sound is more punk-metallic-grunge and are currently enjoying a #4 spot on the college radio charts with their newest release "BRICKS ARE HEAVY."

While the women in L7 are not hard-core activists, they did help organize the ROCK FOR CHOICE chapter in L.A. and have political overtones in their songs (WARGASM, PRETEND WE'RE DEAD, SHITLIST, etc.). Currently on tour in support of their 3rd LP "BRICKS", I had the chance to speak with Jennifer Finch awhile back. Let's see what she has to say:

ROC: How do you feel about censorship and people trying to take away your freedom?

JENNIFER: I mean as a musician or artist, I feel it seems ridiculous being asked that question. I mean all anybody can do is state how they feel and if other people don't respect that, then fuck 'em!

ROC: Has anyone tried to censor any of your work yet?

JEN: We're not popular enough yet. We're not, like in K-Marts. It's like when you get the Bible dependent housewives with bad children, that's when you get problems I suppose.

ROC: Can you see your material being censored?

JEN: I do know this is the first time we've ever had a Parental Advisory label on our record. I mean I don't even think pornography should be censored, because what's the big deal with sex, and if people are going to buy into the exploitation of sex, they're losers anyway.

ROC: What do you feel L7 offers the '90's?

JEN: We just do what we do and we play music that we want to hear and we don't have any written manifesto on what we're going to accomplish or what we're about to accomplish. We're a rock band and we're doing our thing. People are going to take it how they want to take it. It's not up to me. I'd love to change the world, but of course, it's gonna be a slow process.

ROC: You've recorded albums on Epitaph and Sub-Pop Records. How did Slash Records come into the picture?

JEN: We're really heavily into artistic control and controlling our destiny and it's just because Sub-Pop was so far away, it was hard to get anything done and Slash has better distribution which Sub-Pop doesn't have. I mean, we were really getting tired of showing up in like Sioux City, Iowa and there'd be only like two records there in the last month. Sub-Pop's a great label, they just didn't have the distribution power.

ROC: We understand that L7 are Pro-Choice activists. What are some of the issues you're concerned with?

JEN: The loss of Biological destiny bums us out. It's a major issue for this band.

ROC: The song "Pretend We're Dead," is that aimed at anyone in particular?

JEN: It's aimed at the American public who seem to be sleeping.

ROC: After having said that, do you feel that people trying to take your freedom away, like fundamentalists...

JEN: ...like fundamentalist groups and the church and the government want control over what's going on. This country isn't about controlling its people. We're a band that really cares about what's going on around us and we're a band that really cares about having fun. I mean, we're not hard core activists, I just know what generally bothers me. We're using our music to express how we feel, you know whether we're feeling like partying or whether we're feeling bummed because there was a war by the United States last year, and no one seemed to really care about it.

ROC: How does the song "Wargasm" fit into this?

JEN: "Wargasm" is a song that's not just anti-war, it's like anti-media, how the media portrayed the war as almost like a sporting event, how people sat at home watching CNN almost like it was a sporting event, you know, a football game or something. People are just so blind to all these injustices that are in the world and are just focusing on this area of the world when there are those kind of injustices all over the world. I mean we started Rock For Choice in L.A. and put on pro-choice concerts.

ROC: How do you feel about some of the bands currently being censored and what an organization like ours can do to combat censorship?

JEN: Part of me says fuck shit up, and part of me....you know hopefully it (censorship) might just be a trend, you know, it really looks good for politicians to be able to show that they have some kind of control in government and censorship plays on people's emotions you know. They're told that if someone says "shit" or "fuck" or talks about a sexual act on a record, or rags on the government that scares people man, they're fucking scared of it, you know. They're fucking scared when Public Enemy gets on stage and says "Fuck Whitey" you know. Then it's easy to play on their emotions when politicians say, "we can control this," and I think people just have to get out there and they gotta vote, and I know this sounds really lame, to tell people to vote but, it does help, and you can see it with Bush....The whole Bush campaign is changing the whole front on abortion because they see the American people want to maintain their right to a safe and legal abortion, and the Republican Party has asked Bush, "you know if you want to be re-elected, lay low on this issue" and they're laying low. So people get out there and they protest like they did in Washington! So if we keep protesting and call "bullshit" on this record labeling, hopefully things will change. You know, you can't just go, "oh well, I guess we're not going to be able to buy that N.W.A. record because they talk about raping women and they're going to be censored." Like, I think that shit's lame and if people want it censored, then don't buy it. I don't buy N.W.A., Ice-Cube or Ice-T records because I don't like what they're talking about.

ROC: But you feel they have the right to freedom of speech?

JEN: Of course, freedom of speech is the most important thing this nation is built on, and I don't think the government realizes that. You know, it's like democracy's this big experiment that's 200 years old and it was built on ideals and it's an experiment that's working. And I think people need to look back at the foundation of this country, and know the rebellion and the spirit that comes out of freedom of speech, is important.

ROC: If L7 were ever attacked by a censorship group, what would you do about it?

JEN: If a censorship group tried to censor us, we would probably take it to the media and make a big stink about it, because the media doesn't want censorship either and if our record company tried to give us a problem, we would talk it out, but things look good with our label right now so we'll see.

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