L7 (1985-2001, 2014-present): a Grunge band from Los Angeles, California, USA.


eaturing the basic 'Sub Pop' Grungy/punk rock style Seattle sound, L7 was formed in 1986 by Donita Sparks (vocals/guitar) and Suzi Gardner (guitar/vocals). Recruiting L.A. punkster Jennifer Finch (bass/vocals) and Anne Anderson (drums who in turn was apparently replaced with drummer Roy Koutsky soon after), the act signed to the small 'Epitaph' label and the resulting 1988 eponymous debut attracted the attention of 'Sub Pop' the next year to release their Smell the Magic EP in 1990 with Dee Plakas replacing Koutsky. The EP fueled the band's growing popularity. That same year saw them touring with the then unknown act Nirvana and almost upstaging them with their antics.

In 1992 they were signed to 'Slash' and made a UK 24 hit with the follow-up Bricks Are Heavy, an album of Pop-grunge and hard hitting and humorous post-feminist lyrics. That same year more fame was achieved at the Reading Festival where Sparks introduced the audience to a used tampon, then followed up the event later in the year on 'The Word' program where she exposed her feminine virtues. The act also started their Rock For Choice pro-abortion lobby group that received acclaim from the male dominated music business. They ended the year by appearing as an act called Camel Lips in the film Serial Moon.

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If 1992 was a productive year for this all-female act then 1994 would see them reap the rewards of all this fame with the follow-up album Hungry For Stink making 26 UK and the track Fuel My Fire later being covered by the Prodigy on their The Fat Of The Land album.

The Beauty Princess: Triple Platinum (1997) failed to even come close to platinum. The platter featured a harder edge for the act who was now trying to navigate their way through the maze left behind in a post-Grunge world, and also saw the last of Finch who left to join Lyme and replaced with Greta Brinkman for From Osaka To Omaha (live; 1999) before she too was replaced with Gail Greenwood (ex-Belly) whose debut was on the follow-up Slap Happy (1999), an album that received critical words for sounding one-dimensional. Janice Tanaka (ex-Fireball Ministry/ex-Hammers Of Misfortune) would in turn take over bass duties just before the release of their "best of..." compilation The Best Of L7 - The Slash Years (2000). Now long past their peak of popularity, L7 continued to try to trudge on for their die-hard fans.

By 2001, however, L7 were no longer touring. The band stated on their website, "L7 are on an indefinite hiatus. We know that's vague, but that's just the way it is. The future of the band is a bit up in the air at the moment." L7 would be defunct for all practical purposes. During 2007-2012, Sparks and Plakas pursued another project, Donita Sparks and The Stellar Moments. Finch formed several projects including her punk rock act The Shocker. Tanaka played bass for Pink, while Greenwood performed with Bif Naked and later, the reformed Belly.

On December 10, 2014, L7 announced, on their official Facebook page, that they were reuniting, featuring the line-up of Sparks, Gardner, Finch and Plakas.

The documentary film L7: Pretend We're Dead, featured original footage and interviews with the band members and eyewitness accounts of their development.

The band toured extensively and in January 2017, L7 released the live set, Detroit.

Scatter the Rats, their first album since reformation, would arrive in 2019.

Footnote: The phrase L7 comes from 1950s slang for "square" (in reference as an insult to someone who is not marching to the current trends). The figures were developed by placing the thumb and forefinger of the left hand to form an "L" and then the reverse with the right to form a "7". Their first choice for a name (quickly dismissed) was "Camel Lips".

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L7 live in 2015.
Photo by: Andreas Lawen, Fotandi
(CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Nation USA
City Los Angeles, California
Genre Grunge
Formations 2
Active Years 1985-2001, 2014-
Last Modified 2022-09-27
Diskery ID 763

Artists Linked to L7

Nirvana Prodigy

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