By Ryan Meehan
Last week Stereogum released word that L7 had announced on their website that they would be interested in reuniting with their original lineup. I immediately jumped on this story and hope others will share the same enthusiasm, as I wore out the cassette tape of “Bricks Are Heavy” to a disturbing degree. When they weren’t raffling off the chance for a random audience member to have sex with drummer Dee Plakas, they were making a lot of kick ass music that had a ton of attitude to it. They were by far one of the hardest touring bands of the nineties, and there is no doubt in my mind that they paved the way for a lot of women that wanted to be in bands heavier than fucking Vixen. I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry for stink so it’s a good goddamned thing that my guest today is L7 frontwoman Donita Sparks.
RM: When L7 formed back in ’85, what was the initial reaction that people had towards your music? What did you take away from that response that made you want to take it to the next level?
DS: The initial reaction was a lot of crossed arms and blank faces just staring at us at the live shows. I don’t think people knew how to react to us, but they seemed intrigued. In the beginning were just trying to hold it together and get through the songs because we didn’t have much stage experience. Musically, I’ve been told that people thought we were cool because we were mixing punk with hard sludgy rock. We were creating our own niche.
RM: I always felt that the band was incorrectly classified as “grunge” by a lot of journalists, especially when you put “Bricks are Heavy” in the cassette player and “Wargasm” was the first song that came screaming out of the speakers. Do you think in any way the manner in which the media associated your band with that term aimed to sort of pigeonhole you into this musical trend that L7 has ended up outlasting?
DS: Well, I hope we outlasted it. That is kind of you to say. Sure the media pigeonholes. We’ve been categorized into a few different places. But we were doing our own thing in 1985 and by the time “grunge” rolled around we were pretty good at it.
RM: Other than the rise of the internet, what is the biggest difference between the way the music industry operates today as opposed to the way it did business around the time the band went on hiatus at the turn of the century?
DS: At the turn of the century…that sounds so Ken Burns. God, I don’t know much about the music industry. It’s all a clusterfuck. Now it seems like you not only have to be a musician, but you also have to be a marketing person and a bunch of other people and know every start up music site and on and on. But it is cool that a band can be very pro-active about promoting themselves without having to burn the midnight oil at Kinko’s making flyers. A big change is that the money seems to be coming from getting a song into a car commercial. That wasn’t in vogue at the turn of the century.
RM: L7 has not toured since 2000, and it wasn’t until late 2014 when you announced on your official website that you would be joining Suzi, Dee, and Jennifer to do some reunion shows…Is there any possibility of a new release forthcoming once the band starts rehearsing for that tour?
DS: Well, when we all gave the go ahead for the documentary, we had no idea we would be reforming to do shows. And yet here we are. Personally, as a fan, I’d want to hear the original stuff. Maybe do all of “Bricks Are Heavy” in the set or something. But who knows what the future will bring? Check back with me in a few months.
RM: What’s your current guitar setup at the moment; and how did you become to be such a fan of the Flying V back in the day?
DS: My current favorite guitar is my 1963 Gibson Melody Maker. Suzi has one very similar and played it all through the L7 years. It’s super lightweight, sounds great and feels good to play. In 1985 or so, our first drummer Roy became my roommate. A used Flying V is what he presented to me as his first month’s rent. It was hideous and I loved it. No punk was playing a V. It was considered a very Metal guitar. I thought it was funny and then it became my thing. I called it my Flying Vagina. It shall fly again!
RM: With regards to the documentary, how far along are you in the process of making that film? Who has been given the task of putting together that project; and what kinds of things do you want your fans to see about the band that they might not currently be aware of?
DS: The film is currently in the editing stage. It is being directed by veteran independent filmmaker Sarah Price. She has gone through hundreds of hours of footage including home movies, interviews, tour photos, etc. The film will be finished Spring 2015. We’re looking forward to seeing where she’s going with it.
RM: Do ever think that you’ll do another “Stellar Moments” record? What was the best part about doing that album; and is there a possibility that you’ll do something that sounds like that project, but maybe with a different lineup?
DS: I’ll release more material for sure, just not with the Stellar Moments. The best thing about that record was that it was mostly recorded by me and Dee. I really liked working with Ethan Allen as my co-producer too. He had some cool input. I have a lot of songs that have not been released that I’ll get to one of these days. I like doing instrumentals and scoring lately. Just digging the music.
RM: What’s up next for you guys in 2015 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
DS: Jeez, we just announced the original lineup getting back together after 18 years and the release of a retrospective documentary…What do you want?…“Dancing With The Stars”?
Official Website: http://l7theband.com/
Official L7 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/L7.Band
Donita on Twitter: https://twitter.com/donitasparks
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