Bikini Kill announced earlier this summer that they would debut three unreleased songs as part of a reissue of their breakout album, 1991’s Revolution Girl Style Now, and now the tracks are available to stream online before the record bows Sept. 22.
The unheard tracks, “Ocean Song,” “Just Once,” and “Playground,” were recorded at ABC House in Olympia, Washington with the rest of the album and were on the original demo cassette tape. “When we made out first cassette to sell on tour, only a certain amount would fit and we just picked the ones we liked,” Bikini Kill bassist Kathi Wilcox told EW during a phone interview. “The ones that were left over, they were never mixed. We just had the reel-to-reel tape, we just kept it this whole time.”
Wilcox listened to the songs for the first time in 25 years after she got the digital versions off the tapes and says upon first listen, her first instinct was to laugh. “It was kind of a shocker,” she said. “The songs to me now sound funny. [Frontwoman Kathleen Hanna] is so intense and scary but then her lyrics are kind of like, ‘Nyeah nyeah nyeah.’ ‘Playground’ especially, like this song has eight parts and there’s a crazy drum break. It doesn’t even end, the tape just runs out. Who knows how long we were playing it. We were probably playing for three more minutes. It reminded me of what it was like to be in that band in the beginning. It wasn’t really about two-minute punk songs at that point. We were more jammy.”
Bikini Kill drummer Tobi Vail told EW via email that listening to the tracks for the first time was a jarring experience. “It was chilling,” she wrote. “I wanted to change the world and I thought we had a chance.”
This reissue follows last year’s expanded version of 1993’s Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah, and when asked if there were any more Bikini Kill tracks hidden in the vault, Wilcox said probably not. “I think this is it. I may be wrong, and I will say there are some songs we wrote during this period of time — really early like ‘90 and ‘91 — that we never recorded but that we have practice tapes of that have never come out. But those will probably never come out. We went through all of our cassettes for the last release we did, the Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah B-side, and I feel like we already vetted that stuff. It’s not really usable, we can’t put it out. But there were lots of songs — two or three that I can think of — that we never recorded. We played them live, like at parties. I wouldn’t think anyone recorded them but I guess it’s possible.
The newly released tracks contain Bikini Kill and riot grrl’s original feminist message, which is still relevant 25 years later. “When I listen to the early songs now I am transported back to that moment in time when the first wave of American hardcore and ’80s indie was transitioning into post-hardcore and ’90s DIY,” Vail wrote. “I remember being at the dawn of a new decade and us and our friends trying to invent the aesthetics, style and culture for a new generation of punks. Revolution Girl Style Now was a call to action for girls to speak out, resist, organize and create a culture of resistance via starting bands, making zines and establishing an international network of correspondence and distribution of information and ideas via touring, trading zines/cassettes and letter-writing.”
Stream the whole reissue via Soundcloud, and visit Bikini Kill Records’ website to preorder a copy.