Babes In Toyland, the trio Entertainment Weekly dubbed “rock’s first major-label feminists,” have reunited their Fontanelle-era line-up and will play their first live show in 18 years on February 12th at The Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles.
“Second time’s the charm,” said drummer Lori Barbero.
Kat Bjelland, Maureen Herman and Lori Barbero discussed the band’s history and decision to reunite in an interview with Rolling Stone, which will be available tomorrow. In the candid piece, the trio speaks with writer Mark Yarm (author of Everybody Loves our Town: An Oral History of Grunge) about the intervening years, what led to the band’s initial dissolution and their decision to reunite nearly two decades later.
“It was brought to my attention that not only do we have a lot of diehard fans from back in the day, but also a whole new generation of kids–my son Henry included– that were eager to see us live,” explained singer/guitar player Kat Bjelland. “I felt some kind of obligation for them to see us, too. But mainly, I just missed my girls and the feeling that comes from playing with them–visceral live therapy.”
“The first time we played together again,” added bass player Maureen Herman, “we weren’t sure what it would be like. After knocking the hell out of ‘He’s My Thing’ on the first try, we knew this was going to be fun–and it was going to rock like a motherf***er.”
The Minneapolis-born band came to prominence in the late ‘80s with a raw live show that captured a musical and cultural moment; angry, talented and unfettered by societal norms, there were no costumes, no matching outfits and no harmonies. Babes in Toyland were as punk as their contemporaries, male or female, and made history along the way. Releasing three full-length albums and a number of singles and EPs, the trio influenced a legion of musicians including Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill and Jack-off Jill.
Dangerous Minds said, “Kat’s delivery was intense and atonal, with her lyrics referencing fairytales (“Handsome and Gretel”), pain, rage, beauty, betrayal, and abusive parents, not sung with sweet, breathy, unsure vocals, but with a gut-wrenching maenad’s growl.” They were the first of their female contemporaries to sign to a major label (Fontanelle, the band’s sophomore release, arrived in 1992 via Reprise Records) and as a byproduct of their individualism, Kat kick-started the return of baby doll dresses and plastic barrettes. Babes in Toyland graced the covers of Alternative Press, NME and the aforementioned Entertainment Weekly. They played the Reading Festival three times (1991,1993 and 1995), Lollapalooza once (1993) and have been featured in numerous documentaries including 1991: The Year Punk Broke and Not Bad for a Girl. Herman left the band in 1997; Barbero and Bjelland played the final Babes in Toyland show in 2001.
Tickets for the special evening are on-sale this Friday, November 21 at 10 am pacific.
Photo by Michael Lavine