Part of our interview with Chicago-based author Jen B. Larson. Her debut book Hit Girls: Women Of Punk In The USA 1975-1983 (Feral House) is out this August (8/9/22)! Interested in ordering the book through our store? Drop us a line, firstname.lastname@example.org
You're a regular contributor to the fantastic website Please Kill Me (as well as Bandcamp, Chicago Reader, 50ThirdAnd3rd, and others). What has been your favorite story to pitch and write as a contributor?
JEN B. LARSON: They’ve all been fun, but I would say the Tina Bell story has been the most important, and the most rewarding. Tina’s legacy as the front woman of Bam Bam was totally hidden knowledge, even in the underground. My friend, Jen Lemasters, told me about Bam Bam, so I started to dig around, and I couldn't find much. A few writers had done pieces on her, but they hadn't received very much exposure, so when this story came out on Please Kill Me, it really helped to propel the revelation that a Black woman fronted a sludgy punk band in Seattle far before Nirvana or Pearl Jam. Since then, Bric-a-Brac Records has put out a retrospective record of Bam Bam’s material and murals have been made in her honor in Seattle! Her Wikipedia page was reinstated, too. It felt good to be part of that. I’d never had a platform like PKM before, and I am glad that when I had a chance to, I used it for something that matters.
You received your first book deal in January 2020: congratulations! What prompted you to write the book? Were you inspired by punk authors like ALICE BAG (whom you also feature in the book) and VIVIEN GOLDMAN?
I was so excited to find "Revenge of the She-Punks," and when I read it, I loved it. Vivien said that she wrote it to 'rally the troops and motivate women to keep producing culture in a meaningful way.' In moments of self-doubt, I think it heartened me to keep writing this history and take it seriously, because if don’t, who is going to? I mean, people do, but their work is still under the radar. I cover a handful of artists who are relatively well-known in the underground, but, I also cover a handful of artists and bands that not many people have ever written about, or if they have, the writing has been lost to time. I am writing for an independent publisher--not one of the big guys--so the more word of mouth and press that the book can get, the better it is for these artists’ legacies.
Order CONNECT-ING TO THE BEAT 'zine to read the rest of this interview:
More on Jen's upcoming book from Feral House:
"Jen B. Larson is a writer, musician, and public art schoolteacher living in Chicago. She holds a B.A. in English literature and creative writing as well as an M.Ed. in special education. Her bands, Swimsuit Addition, beastii, and Jen and the Dots, have performed and recorded extensively over the last decade.
Women have been kicking against the pricks of music patriarchy since Sister Rosetta Tharpe first played the guitar riffs that built rock-n-roll. The explosion of punk sent shockwaves of revolution to every girl who dreamed of being on stage. Punk godmothers Suzy Quatro, The Runaways, Patti Smith, Poison Ivy, Tina Weymouth, Debbie Harry, The Go-Gos, and Fanny’s Millington sisters provided the template for thousands of girls and women throughout the United States to write and record their songs.
Hit Girls is the story local and regional bands whose legacy would be otherwise lost. Despite the modern narrative labeled women anomalies in rock music, the truth is: women played important roles in punk and its related genres in every city, in every scene, all over the United States. The women and bands profiled by Jen B. share their experiences of sexism and racism as well as their joy and successes from their days on stage as they changed what it meant to be in a band. These pioneering women were more than novelty acts or pretty faces–they were fully contributing members and leaders of mixed-gender and all-female bands long before the call for “girls to the front.”
The women of Hit Girls are now rightfully exalted to cult status where their collective achievement is recognized and inspiring to new generations of women rockers. Included are interviews with: Texacala Jones, Stoney Rivera, Mish Bondaj, Alice Bag, Nikki Corvette, Penelope Houston, and many more formidable and infamous women who made their voices heard over the screaming guitars.
Hit Girls includes over 100 rare and never-before seen images. Author Jen B. includes a comprehensive playlist of all the artists. Foreword by punk journalist, Ginger Coyote"
Follow Jen B. Larson at www.disappearingmedia.com