How L7's home movies launched their comeback
L7 were one of the more unlikely success stories of the ’90s grunge boom. They had plenty of razor-sharp hooks but they wrapped them in blunt political commentary that made a lot of listeners uncomfortable, they seemed even more outwardly skeptical of the music industry than their fellow basement punks turned MTV stars, and they were a band full of famously rowdy women working at a time when seemingly every major publication had a cover story attempting to wrap their heads around the concept of “women who rock.”
Despite how improbable their ascent into rock’s major league was, it makes perfect sense that they’re in the midst of a revival. The ’90s alt-rock revival is lifting a lot of boats, but more significantly in 2015, most of the punk music that matters is being made by women, and L7’s influence is inescapable.
One measure of the group’s continued–and possibly even increasing–impact is enthusiastic reaction the Internet had to the announcement in late January that the band had launched a Kickstarter to fund an documentary directed by American Movie‘s Sarah Price called L7: Pretend We’re Dead. On top of that they’ll be reuniting for some festival shows.
“It’s pretty crazy,” member Donita Sparks admits. “Fans were really kind of harassing us, in the most beautiful way, to reunite. And yet we hadn’t even really spoken to each other in many, many years. And we were being contacted by festivals and stuff like that, and I was like, ‘We’re not a band, really, we’re on indefinite hiatus,’ and then I just approached everybody, thinking, ‘I don’t know, would we actually consider this?’ And everybody was in!”
“You know, it’s so weird because now these festivals we’re playing,” she continues, “a lot of the bands are bands we toured with back in the day. You know, Marilyn Manson, Faith No More, it’s just wild. It kind of sucks in a way, and it’s kind of cool in another way. It’s just weird. I thought that we would be the older folks backstage, and it doesn’t appear that way. Like, we’re playing with ZZ Top and Television in Spain. We’re kind of gonna be these young whippersnappers backstage. Isn’t that a trip?”
The documentary and reunion got started through L7’s Facebook page, which Sparks says she mostly thought of as little more than a place to share old band photos before fans began clamoring for more. The Kickstarter campaign reached its goal well under schedule, and as of this writing it’s exceeded it by over $10,000. “It’s really cool,” Sparks says, “‘cause you know, our legacy has felt to all of us a little bit invisible for quite a while. So now it’s kind of bubbling to the surface again, and it’s great. And that’s all about our fans. They’ve kept the name L7 alive, you know? So, so much of this credit goes to our crazy, maniac fans. So we are in debt to them.”