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That was the greatest thing about Huggy Bear - the argument between Niki and Chris. He shouted and she screamed - it was the sound of pure hate, the sound of two people stuck in a room getting on each others' nerves until all hell breaks loose. Huggy Bear songs were always edgy and brittle like they were going to break apart in a mess of shards. - Marceline Smith, diskant.net

UK-based riot grrrl band that formed in Brighton, England in the early nineties. The band originally had five members: Chris (vocalist), Jo Johnson (guitarist), Jon Slade (guitarist), Karen (drummer) and Niki (vocalist/bassist). In late 1991, the band played their first show, supporting the band Heavenly. Huggy Bear released a few demos that they'd recorded on a four-track at home in 1992. After playing a couple of small gigs, word spread and the band began selling out much larger venues.

Wiiija Records began releasing a tape-only compilation of some of their songs, and soon A&R people from several major labels were trying to sign the band. The band refused to sign with any of them, and even told Nude Records that they would only consider them if they "dropped Suede."

Huggy Bear released their first single, "Rubbing the Impossible to Burst", in September of 1992. The pressing of 2000 sold out immediately. Their second single, "Kiss Curl for the Kid's Lib Guerrillas", was released just before Christmas. In February of 1993, Huggy Bear did a split album with Bikini Kill that was produced by Catcall Records, followed by a joint tour of the two bands.

Wiiija and Catcall both released the single "Herjazz" to coincide with the tour. There was now so much hype surrounding Huggy Bear that they were invited to perform "Herjazz" on the UK talk show The Word. After their performance, Playboy modeling sisters the Barbi Twins came on the show, at which point the band began chanting "Shame! Shame!" and heckling the show's host. The mini-riot that ensued caused the band and their fans to be ejected from the premises, but so much publicity was generated by the incident that a still photograph from the show was given a Melody Maker cover, and the band's appearance was likened to the Sex Pistols' Bill Grundy interview.

The music press in the UK had already started covering the American riot grrrl scene, but with "Herjazz" at the top of the indie charts and Huggy Bear selling out nearly all of the venues they played, riot grrrl became the "media hype" of 1993. The basic principles of the tour, that women were encouraged to go up to the stage and that males groping girls at the concerts was unwelcome, were reacted to immediately and a backlash against the movement began. Contrary to popular belief, Huggy Bear played a mere two women-only shows, with Bikini Kill and then with Hole.

In the summer of 1993, Huggy Bear began an extensive tour of the United States. The record label Kill Rock Stars released a compilation of all the singles the band had released so far, titled Taking the Rough with the Smooch. While in America, they recorded a single for Gravity Records in San Francisco, "Long Distance Lovers", which exposed them to an entirely new audience. Huggy Bear embarked on a Japanese tour in December of 1993, and spent the first half of 1994 writing songs for a new album (some of which were included on the CD Main Squeeze) and contributing a chapter to a book about women in rock, Grrrls. In March of 1994 they toured in the UK, and despite the fact that they were no longer being hyped by the media, they found they still had a loyal fanbase.

The guitarist, Jon Slade, had left the band at this point. He was deathly afraid of flying so the tours and shows played in other countries had to be played without him, and the group had no choice but to become a foursome. The new tour showed Huggy Bear to be evolving musically: their music, which had once been a loud, cacaphonous punk clamor of shouted manifestoes and jangling, explosive guitars, was now more influenced by the American hardcore scene. (The NME even accused them of trying to mimic Fugazi.)

They released Weaponry Listens to Love, their final record, in November of 1994 and toured the UK and US to promote the new material. The band broke up soon after and scattered to various other bands and projects.

We had our own future plan. What strengths these feeble arms hold. We were peerless. We didn't pull back from what we found difficult, or that shocked or upset us. We didn't fear the disapproval of friends, associates or idols. - Niki

Discography:

We Bitched CS (1992, Wiiija)
Huggy Nation - Kisser Boy Kisser Girl CS (1992, self-released)
Rubbing the Impossible to Burst 12" (1992, Wiiija)
Kiss Curl for the Kid's Lib Guerrillas 7" (1992, Wiiija)
Her Jazz 7" (1993, Wiiija)
Our Troubled Youth 12" (1993, Catcall) split LP w/ Bikini Kill
Don't Die 7" (1993, Wiiija)
February 14 7" (1993)
Taking the Rough with the Smooch 10" (1993, Kill Rock Stars) compilation of last 3 singles
Long Distance Lovers 7" (1993, Gravity)
For Every Wolf That Roams CS (1994, Famous Monsters)
Main Squeeze CD (1994, Fellaheen)
Weaponry Listens to Love LP (1994, Wiiija)
Getting Close to Nothing video fanzine (1994, promotional)

Compilations:

Shimmies in Super 8 double 7" (1993, Duophonic, compilation)
Stars Kill Rock LP (1995, Kill Rock Stars)

Sources:
huggy bear. http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Lofts/6837/huggybear.html
kill rock stars: Huggy Bear Factsheet. http://www.killrockstars.com/bands/factsheets/huggybear/
Huggy Bear. http://www.cellophanesquare.com/item_music.asp?id=R+++369876
huggy nation. http://www.geocities.com/huggybearsite/
diskant: articles: crayons & gold spray paint. http://www.diskant.net/articles/huggybear.htm

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