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L7 started up in 1985 when Donita Sparks met Suzi Gardner in Los Angeles. Both these women had previously played in other bands, and they decided that it was their "destiny" to create a band together. Thus, L7 was born, the name being taken from a slang term meaning "square". In 1986, Jennifer Finch moved to Los Angeles from San Fransisco, where she had been playing with the band Sugar Babylon. This group, incedentally, also featured Courtney Love and Kat Bjelland.

After finding drummer Roy Koutsky (a guy!) L7 started building their reputation playing in clubs around LA. L7 was then signed to the epitaph label by Brett Gurewitz, the founder of the label and a guitarist for Bad Religion. In September 1988, L7 released their first album on Epitaph, the self-titled L7, and started their first tour.

A month later (november 1988) Roy Koutsky was replaced by Demetra Plakas AKA "dee" as the drummer for the band. In 1989, L7 would sign with Sub Pob records - despite not being from Seattle. They also released their second album and began their second tour, this time with the band Cat Butt.

When L7's third album, Bricks are heavy, was released (on a new label, Slash records), L7 got a spot on both Pop Album's and Billboard's charts. The song Pretend that we're dead went on to become a radio hit as well.

Over the next two years, L7 preformed on several tours in the US, Japan, Austraila, and Europe. and preformed "Pretend that we're dead" on the Late show with David Letterman. In addition, the grrls played many benifit concerts for Rock For Choice.

1994 saw the release of "Hungry for Stink", the band's fourth album (coproduced by Garth Richardson. L7 also landed a spot playing the song "Gas chamber" in the movie Serial Mom. The band also was in 1994's Lollapalooza.

In 1997, L7 made a radical change in their release "The Beauty Process:Triple Platinum". The album sounds more alternative or grunge than punk, and also marked the departure of their bassist of 10 years, Jennifer Finch(who left to earn a degree in American Studies). Although there is no bassist in the band during this album, Gail Greenwood, former bassist for Belly, joined up for the tour. During this year, WEA(who owns Slash records) dropped L7 from their label as well.

L7 survived being dropped from the label, and released a live CD called "L7 live: Omaha to Osaka" on the indie label Man's Ruin Records. L7 then began writing songs while waiting to sign with a new label. However, in 1999 they decided to start their own label instead, called Wax Tadpole. The name of the label came from one of their earliest songs "Bite the Waxed Tadpole". On this label, they released the album "Slap Happy". A new bassist, Janis Tanaka, moved down to LA from San Francisco to sign on as a full time bassist. Slap-Happy is a good album, but it's hard to tell whether the band will survive into the future independent of a major label.

Besides being on or near the forefront of the Riot Grrl movement, L7's lead singer, Suzi Gardner gained them quite a bit of notoriety at the Reading Festival in 1990. Upon receiving a bit of heckling, she reached into her pants, pulled out her tampon, and threw it into the crowd. The most disturbing part was that some fan had the balls to throw it back on stage.

Music aside, I think that properly sums up the attitude of these four punk-rock ladies.

In the 1950s L7 was slang for loser -- or, in the parlance of the day, a square. Square had long been a slang term for a person who is not cool, appearing in the 1940s to refer to an old-fashioned person. L7 purportedly referred to the visual pun:


Well, it's supposed to look like a square. American clarinetist and band leader Artie Shaw claimed that it came specifically from a hand signal: "if you form an L and a 7 with your finger, that's what you get." If that's true, it might possibly be the source of the modern 'loser' hand gesture -- although my money is on coincidence bolstered by humans' love for making cryptic gestures at each other.

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