Trail blazers of the 90’s punk rock movement and shining beacons of the Riot Grrrl awakening, the importance of L7 to modern day music can’t be overstated. For a solid decade the band fearlessly toured and released, entering a sonic consciousness that was largely uncharted.

After 6 albums, which culminated in 1999’s Slap-Happy, the band called it a day. Having fought a good fight they very well could have left it there, but that wasn’t the end of L7. Fast forward through some turbulent years for mankind, and the band announced their reformation.

Since then they’ve performed in Stateside and throughout Europe. After a couple of false starts the band are now only a matter of days away from their Australian tour dates. We spoke to vocalist Donita Sparks about the bands triumphant return, why the world needs another L7, and where they’ll be taking things next.
 
We caught Donita in the middle of what sounded like one of the most cathartic exercises of all time…
 

 
Donita Sparks: I’m in L.A at home, going through really ugly passport photos of myself that I’m destroying…That’ll be in the trash soon. Anyway. So, what’s happening?
 
The Neversphere: Oh just waking up still…But enough about me. Your Australian tour kicks off so soon, are you all organised and ready to rock?
 
Donita: We are ready to rock, yes. We just got back from Europe, we have a couple of weeks off then we head to Australia. We’re ready.
 
The Neversphere: How were the European shows?
 
Donita: Europe was great! We did some long weekends in the US over the summer, then we hit Europe. We played some great festivals and also some club shows.
 
The Neversphere: Now that you’re well and truly back into the groove of playing live, what can we expect from the shows?
 
Donita: A high energy, fun, powerful rockshow – hopefully, if all goes well.
 
The Neversphere: So how have the shows been so far? Has it been a bit of a wig out to get back into these songs you wrote in the 90s?
 
Donita: Actually, I don’t think it is for any of us. We actually enjoy the music. It’s not like we’ve been sitting around for the past twenty years listening to our own music. I don’t think any of us listen to our own music. So to play the songs actually probably feels fresher for us than our fans, because our fans probably listened to them a lot more.

So we’re just rocking out and having fun – it’s not a head-trip for us.
 
The Neversphere: So, a head trip for the fans then?
 
Donita: Maybe so! I mean, I do feel that sometimes when we play Pretend We’re Dead or something I can kind of see on peoples faces that they are in reverie about a time in their life, you know what I mean? They’re singing along but there’s something in their face and it’s like a flashback. It’s how we all experience music. It’s like the sense of smell, it’ll take you back.
 
The Neversphere: That must be a buzz. Were you ever conscious at the time you wrote these songs that you would be soundtracking not just political and cultural change but also just every day moments in fans lives?
 
Donita: We don’t think about these things. I think sometimes when I’d be recording, I’d be blown away at the permanency of it. Like whoa, we’re laying down a track right now that’s going to be on a fucking record. That kind of, in an existential way, starts to freak me out. It’s a weird feeling [Laughs].

Now when I was writing the song, but when I was actually laying down the track I was like ‘Whoa, this is being record right now. It’s going to be cut into a piece of vinyl‘. So that kind of blows your mind. It’s a time stamp, like a photograph.
 

 
The Neversphere: I was a bit young to catch L7 in the 90s, my exposure to the band was similar to most people my age – hearing it thumping through my older brothers room while I tried to do homework. But there is this sense that the same fears and concerns people felt in the 90’s rising again. Would you agree with that?
 
Donita: You know what? It always seems like the end of the world is just around the corner, to me. I don’t think things are good. And I don’t think they’ve been good in a really long time: In particular the environment. That kind of shit really freaks me out and I can’t think about it too much. I can’t even watch the news! It’s just bad news.

It wasn’t like the 90’s were bad and now it’s bad, it’s like everywhere between has been bad; the Bush years in the United States were just horrible. Corporations suck. The world is getting corporatised. We’re kind of fucked if we don’t get our shit together, which it doesn’t look like we’re going to.
 
The Neversphere: It feels like music these days isn’t really equipped to deal with it. Almost like music has had it’s fangs removed since the 90s. Where do you think today’s L7 is?
 
Donita: I don’t know! I think that’s kind of a problem. I know that grunge had to die, because it got bloated and depressing. Then the music that followed, a lot of it was very feel good, upbeat music which was great but it’s nice to have a threat in there too.

It’s good to be optimistic, but it’s also good to be threatened and have some bands out there that are actually sticking their necks out politically or whatever.
 
The Neversphere: With that in mind, have you had any feedback from fans after the recent shows, potentially the younger ones who may have missed L7 the first time, who you’ve inspired to pick up an axe or some sticks, or a mic and make some noise?
 
Donita: Oh we’ve been hearing that since 1990, [laughs], no joke. We’ve been pied pipers since then. We hear it at every show. We meet people at they tell us ‘I started a band because of you‘, ‘I play bass because of you‘…’I divorced my husband because of you‘…

We’re kind of the soundtrack to a lot of peoples lives. Which is weird…But certainly, just like musicians before us inspired us to pick up guitars and pick up a band, it’s a continuum. We’ve been inspired, we inspire, it goes on and on.
 
The Neversphere: You mentioned before you’d ticked off Europe and North America, what’s on the cards for L7 Post-Australian tour?
 
Donita: Well, that’s a good question. We may play some shows next summer, we may write and record some new music. I’m not sure where our heads are going to be at after Australia. We don’t have a label behind us – it’s just us. So we decide what we want to do.

There’s nobody cracking the whip saying ‘You guys need to put out a record by April 1st.’ Those kind of deadlines can be great for a band but for us we’re just like, ‘we’ll do whatever the fuck we feel like’. We may feel like making music, we may not. I hope we do, because we’ve been jamming on some stuff at soundchecks that’s sounding really good.

I guess I wouldn’t be afraid to release something. I don’t think I would be intimidated at this point to do it because I’ve heard some stuff come out of us that’s really cool and fresh.
 
The Neversphere: ‘We’ll do whatever the fuck we feel like‘ is easily the most punk rock thing I’ve heard in first person from a band.
 
Donita: Well, Yeah! It’s not like we have this powerful management or label behind us. We’re just like ‘We’ll see!’ [Laughs].

 

 

L7 2016 Australian Tour Dates

Thursday, October 6th
Metropolis Fremantle, Perth
Tickets: Metropolis Touring

Friday, October 7th
The Gov, Adelaide
Tickets: Metropolis Touring

Tuesday, October 11th
170 Russell, Melbourne
Tickets: Metropolis Touring

Friday, October 14th
Eatons Hill, Brisbane
Tickets: Metropolis Touring

Saturday, October 15th
Metro Theatre, Sydney
Tickets: Metropolis Touring