- Tobi Vail
Infobox musical artist
Name = Tobi Vail
Img_capt = Vail singing in Bikini Kill, photographed by
Pat Grahamat a Rock for Choice benefit in DC's Sanctuary Theatre, April 4, 1992
Background = khaki
Alias = Sabrina
Born = Birth date and age|1969|7|20|df=y
Auburn, Washington, United States
Instrument = drums,
guitar, bass, piano, Vocals
Occupation = Musician, publisher
Years_active = mid-80s-Present
K Records, Kill Rock Stars, Bumpidee, Chainsaw, Lookout!, Wiiija, YoYo, Simple Machines, Catcall Records, Ebullition, Outpunk, Chicks on Speed
Bikini Kill, The Go Team, Some Velvet Sidewalk, The Frumpies
Tobi Vail (born
July 20 1969) is a musician, influential DIY punk zinester, activist, and feministtheorist from Olympia, Washington. She formed one of her first bands as the drummerfor The Go Teamwhen she was 15, ["She's a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock and Roll (Live Girls)" by Gillian G. Gaar] later collaborating in several other groups like Bikini Kill, as well as being involved over the years with a prolific assortment of project bands, figuring prominently in the Olympia music scene. Currently she fronts the psychedelic-garage-punk band Spider and the Webs, plays drums in The Old Haunts, as well as running her own indie cassette label, Bands Against Bush, the Kill Rock Starsmail order department, and publishing various zines.
Vail was born on the day of the first
moon landingand named after Toby Tyler, who ran away to join the circus. [http://www.killrockstars.com/bands/BandQuestion/answers/ALL.shtml Miscellaneous Q & A ] ] Growing up in a very musical family, she started playing music early.
Her younger sister Maggie Vail also plays drums,
guitar, bass, clarinetand cello, [ [http://discorder.citr.ca/features/02septbangs.html DISCORDER Bangs ] ] and has played in such bands as Bangs, Gene Defcon, The Geoducks, The Slatternlies, The Stowaways, Frenchie and the German Girls, and Bonnot Gang (named after the famous French anarchist group of the same name). She currently plays in both Romancing and Leti Angel, as well as being the vice president and head of West Coast operations for the independent label Kill Rock Starsas of the current president Portia Sabin's move to New York Cityin 2006 with her husband, label-founder Slim Moon. [ [http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/page/news/39271/Exclusive_Video_The_Divine_Comedys_Muse_R/page_4 Hold Steady's Nicolay, Talib Kweli Play Peace Fair | Pitchfork ] ]
The Go Team and Doris
One of her first bands was
The Go Team, an experimental punk project started with Calvin Johnson in 1985. The group released several cassettes and 9 singles on the independent label K Records, mostly on the 7" vinylformat - a practice Vail continues to this day. Billy "Boredom" Karren was one of the rotating musicians who played with The Go Team, and it was in this band that he and Vail played together for the first time, later collaborating in several other bands like Bikini Kill, The Frumpies, the upallnighters, and Spray Painted Love. Other guest musicians included Rich Jensen, David Nichols, and Donna Dresch. They toured the West Coast as a two piece, adding Billy Karren for two U.S. tours.
Vail was also working as a DJ for
KAOS (FM)and playing in an all-teenage girl band called Doris with Cheryl Hooper and Tam Orhmund at this time (1986-1988), which played shows around the Northwest with Beat Happening, Spook and the Zombies, Rich Jensen, Oklahoma Scramble, and Snake Pit. They made a demo tape, which was recorded by Steve Ross (Cactus Love, the Briefs) but never released. After the demise of The Go Team, Vail played in various project bands and made a record as the drummer for Some Velvet Sidewalk.
Vail is best known as the drummer of Bikini Kill, which lasted from 1990 to 1998. The band was often met with resistance and misunderstanding due to their chaotic live performances, controversial lyrics, and political zines which dealt with various
activist-punk topics like anti-racism, vegetarianism, anti-corporatism, anti-capitalism, anti- heterosexism, and in particular feministissues such as rape, incest, domestic violence, abortion, sexuality, body imageand eating disorders, stalking, patriarchy, sexual assault, and sexismin general - all with a strong emphasis on community and DIY culture.
Despite frequent mainstream media misrepresentation [ [http://www.papercoffin.com/misc/riot%20archives/riot%20docs/bkis.html "Biki Kill Is" from Jigsaw fanzine ] ] [ [http://www.emplive.org/exhibits/index.asp?articleID=670#mbb3 empsfm.org - EXHIBITIONS - Featured Exhibitions ] ] and serious violence at shows"Don't Need You: the Herstory of Riot Grrrl" directed by Kerri Koch] (usually against singer
Kathleen Hanna), they continued for several years and today are largely credited (along with Bratmobile) with starting Riot Grrrl, a movement that merged Do It Yourself punk culture with feminism. The actual word 'grrrl' was coined in Vail's seminal journal, [http://zinewiki.com/index.php?title=Jigsaw "Jigsaw"] (1988-present), one of the first Northwestern punk zines to address gender issues explicitly. Prior to this, many influential female-centric bands like The Slits, Girlschool, [ [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ENvE0BrHZ8 YouTube - Interview and performance clips - the Slits ] ] and Bush Tetras[ [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DW4EHwHfQbg YouTube - bush tetras ] ] had long resisted the notion of being thought of as "girl bands" and almost always avoided the word " feminism", with the occasional exceptions of bands like Poison Girls, Frightwig, and Au Pairs.
Vail had started working with schoolmates
Kathi Wilcoxand Kathleen Hannaat The Evergreen State College, together producing a zine called [http://zinewiki.com/index.php?title=Bikini_Kill "Bikini Kill"] - the name of which came from a phrase coined by indie-godmother and fellow KAOS DJ Lois Maffeo, which Tobi asked if she could use. [ [http://www.the-declaration.com/2000/04_06/departments/scene.shtml The Declaration | 6 April 2000 | Scene ] ] Along with Bratmobile's " Girl Germs" and [http://zinewiki.com/index.php?title=Riot_grrrl_%28zine%29 "riot grrrl"] , these zines are credited as the first manifestos of the movement, reclaiming feminism for the punk scene in an attempt to disrupt the straight white malebias thereof, and rebelling against such annoyances as having the women at their shows fall victim to sexual assault when attempting to enter the mosh pits or even get closer to the stage, their bodies often groped, their clothes deliberately torn off. In one instance in particular, a man was caught rubbing his penis on a female fan in the audience at a Rock for Choice benefit. [ [http://www.msmagazine.com/aug00/shesays.asp Ms. Magazine | She Says: Kathleen Hanna ] ] In response to such attacks, not only against the girls in the audience but often against themselves and their friends, [ [http://weeklywire.com/ww/07-27-98/boston_music_3.html Music: First-Person Punk (The Boston Phoenix . 07-27-98) ] ] Bikini Kill was one of the first bands to declare their mosh pits "women only". [ [http://www.emplive.org/exhibits/index.asp?articleID=669 empsfm.org - EXHIBITIONS - Featured Exhibitions ] ]
The general feeling of wanting to encourage more girls to start bands, zines, make their own culture and create their own homemade and fiercely independent media grew rapidly in popularity through a largely underground network of similar-feeling fans, artists, musicians and writers, and soon regular meetings started taking place, usually in
punk houses like Positive Force. Bikini Kill had started working there with friends like Nation of Ulyssesand Fugazi after moving to Washington DC in 1991.
Much like her influences
Billy Childishand Moe Tucker, [ [http://www.myspace.com/spiderandthewebs MySpace.com - Spider and the Webs - OLYMPIA, US - Psychédélique / Punk / Power pop - www.myspace.com/spiderandthewebs ] ] riot grrrl emphasized a strong advocacy for the DIY indie-punk philosophies and "you can do anything" attitude of amateurism.
The band itself released several LPs and singles on their friend Slim's then-new label
Kill Rock Stars, of which Vail is now a chief editor, and toured extensively across the US, Europe, Japan, and Australia, which helped spread the word further.
In 1992 Tobi started
The Frumpiesin DC with bandmates Kathi Wilcoxand Billy Karren, Molly Neumanof Bratmobile and The PeeChees, and later Michelle Mae. They wrote and recorded several 7" singles, most of which are compiled on the Kill Rock Stars release "Frumpie One Piece", and many recorded in the basement of Vail's parents' home. [ [http://members.tripod.com/~SuicideSpice/BKarticles.html I only Fuck You cause i know u wanna make me ] ] The "Frumpies Forever" single has on its cover a polaroid still of "A Taste of Honey", a favorite movie of Vail's, who likes a lot of French New Waveand 60's British cinema. Distinctly less overtly political in nature than either BK or Bratmobile, and refining a much different sound (no bass player, 3 guitar players), they toured the U.S. with Huggy Bearin 1993 and Italywith "yes wave"-electro- avant-punk-noise band [http://www.myspace.com/dadaswing Dada Swing] in 2000. They also developed a mini- rock operacalled "Mohawk Toupee". [ [http://www.killrockstars.com/bands/frumpies/index.html Frumpies Forever ] ]
Apart from the 5 other above mentioned bands, and occasionally releasing under her own name and various pseudonyms, Vail has played in quite a few
underground bands before and after the friendly break-up of Bikini Kill in 98, including:
*Frenchie and the German Girls
*My New Boyfriend
*Spray Painted Love
*The Bathtub is Real
*Panic of the Square
*Listen to the Elephants
*The Retirement Band
*Spider and the Webs - with James Maeda and Chris Sutton of [http://www.myspace.com/hornetleg Hornet Leg] and
Dub Narcotic Sound System.
*The Old Haunts
*Love Can Lose
As a guest
Mary Lou Lord
*Bangs - one of her sister Maggie's many bands
*Davies vs. Dresch
*Rancid once covered a Frumpies song "Intertube Tomorrow" in which they sampled her voice on an unreleased demo [ [http://18.104.22.168/BandQuestions/Answers/Frumpies Frumpies Q & A ] ]
Nation of Ulysses[ [http://members.tripod.com/~hexenzsene/pretty.html Plays Pretty For Baby ] ]
Bands Against Bush, Ladyfest, and FAB
Although she continues to enjoy playing in some predominantly male bands, Vail still keeps with her DIY efforts to encourage more women into the independent punk scene as a founding member of
Ladyfest, a volunteer-based music and arts festivalfor female independent musicians, performance artists, spoken wordpoets, visual artists, and authors, for which most of the proceeds are donated directly to non-profit organisations. The festival also holds workshops for girls on everything from music lessons, to how to make a zine, to self defensecourses. [ [http://home.comcast.net/~erikalari/ladyfestolympia/work.htm Ladyfest Olympia 2005 - Workshops ] ]
She is also one of the founders of
Bands Against Bush, an international resistance network of artists and musicians dedicated to promoting and organizing activismand direct actionagainst George W. Bush, his administration and the rest of the PNAC. It was inspired by the very first show she ever attended: a Rock Against Reagan benefit in 1983. [ [http://www.bumpidee.com/From%20Rock%20Against%20Reagan.htm From Rock Against Reagan ] ] A recent New York Times article claimed BAB was under surveillance by the U.S. government. [ [http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/03/25/80/ NYC City Police Spied Broadly Before GOP Convention - CommonDreams.org ] ]
She also founded FAB (Feminist Action Brigade), a feminist book club based in Olympia that attempted to start an activist network using zines and the internet. Her current publications are "Spider Magic", "Feminists Against Bush" and "Pogo for Peace".
In 1994, Vail started her own
DIY cassette labelcalled Bumpidee (named after the Portland-based Sunday morning children's show and eponymous character Bumpity) and released music by Worst Case Scenario, the Corrections, the Bonnot Gang, and the Slatternlies. Recent releases include demos by Spider and the Webs and Marissa Magic and a compilation called "Spider Friends". Each tape comes with a newsletter called "The Bumpidee Times" which contextualizes each release, and many are often free in the anti-capitalist DIY punk spirit of sharing. Currently there is also a web site, [http://www.bumpidee.com bumpidee.com] , of the same name.
Although many KRS artists have since signed to
major labels ( Sleater-Kinney, Kathleen Hanna, The Gossip), Vail's output has always remained consistently independent of corporate ownership. A letter she wrote appears in the liner notes of a KRS compilation called "Stars Kill Rock":
Mark Andersen's book "Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capitol", she continued:
From July to October 1990, Vail dated her friend, Nirvana frontman
Kurt Cobain, with whom she had collaborated during her tenure in The Go Team on another side project called The Bathtub is Real. They remained friends after they broke up, their bands hanging out and often playing together at shows, and they were on good terms until fame, drug addictionand depression obscured many of Cobain's connections with old friends, including Vail. The end of their relationship occurred during the period when Cobain was writing material for Nirvana's foundational album " Nevermind" and some of the songs seem to contain veiled references to Tobi, including
Smells Like Teen Spirit- Teen Spirit was Tobi's choice of deodorant at the time, and Kathleen Hanna had spray-painted "Kurt smells like teen spirit" on his wall one night.
*Aneurysm - Cross' biography of Cobain incorrectly claimed that this song was written in an attempt to win Vail back, the line "love you so much it makes me sick" referring to the fact that when they first met, she made Cobain so nervous that it once made him
vomit. ["Heavier Than Heaven" by Charles Cross] The song was actually written during the relationship, not after.
Lounge Act- Krist Novoselicis quoted as saying that " Lounge Act" is about Tobi and Kurt wrote in an angry (unsent) letter to Vail that "Lounge Act" was the only song written about her and wrote that he never played it, unless Courtney Lovewasn't around.fact|date=April 2008
A fair amount of fallacy has been circulated about their relationship due to Nirvana biographers and rock journalists relying largely on second-hand misinformation, rumors, and erroneous conjecture presented incorrectly as fact, as neither Vail nor Cobain ever spoke of their relationship publicly. For over 15 years, as
Jenny Toomeyrelates, "Tobi refuses to speak publicly and participate in the exploitation of the Cobain myth by hack journalists trying to make a career, record companies trying to sell records, and feeble attempts made by ex-"friends" to mark their place in history." [ [http://www.nirvanaclub.com/news/spin0102.jpga letter] by Jenny Toomey] The only interview she's ever given on the subject of her old friend was for Everett True, another old friend of hers and Cobain's. True is the only biographer who was actually close with them during this time, and he has derided Cross' book as the "Courtney-sanctioned version of history." [ [http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Content?oid=184892 Smells Like Everett True - Books - The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper ] ]
The Go Team
*"Sand/Jigsaw" (January 1989)
*"Outside/Stay Ready" (February 1989) with
Billy Karren, Louise Olsen, Dave Nichols
*"Breakfast In Bed/Safe Little Circles" (March 1989) with
*"Milquetoast Brigade/She Was Sad" (April 1989) with
*"Ribeye/935 Patterson" (May 1989)
*"Go Team Call/Three Ways To Sunday" (June 1989) with
Quang H., Billy Karren, Brad Clemmons
*"Scratch It Out/Bikini Twilight" (July 1989) with
Tamra Ohrmund, Louise Olsen, Donna Dresch, Kurt Cobain
*"Tummy Hop/Maverick Summer" (August 1989) with Brad Clemmons
*"The Pines Of Rome" (September 1989) with Brad Clemmons
*"Recorded Live At The Washington Center For The Performing Arts"
*"Your Pretty Guitar" with Steve Peters
*"Archer Come Sparrow"
*"Donna Parker Pop"
Revolution Girl Style Now!" self-released cassette (1991)
Bikini Kill (EP)" on Kill Rock Stars(1991)
Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah" split LP with Huggy Bearon Catcall Recordsin the UK, Kill Rock Stars in the US (1993)
The C.D. Version of the First Two Records", compilation (1993)
Pussy Whipped" on Kill Rock Stars (1994)
Reject All American" on Kill Rock Stars (1996)
*"New Radio/Rebel Girl" 7" single on Kill Rock Stars (1993)
*"The Anti-Pleasure Dissertation" Single on Kill Rock Stars (1994)
*"I Like Fucking/I Hate Danger" 7" single on Kill Rock Stars (1995)
*"Kill Rock Stars" on Kill Rock Stars LP/CD (1991)
*"Throw: The YoYo Studio Compilation" on
*"Daddy's Lil' Girl" on Give Me Back LP,
*"Suck My Left One" on There's A Dyke In The Pit,
*"Bikini Kill: The Singles" (1998)
*"Babies & Bunnies"
* "Cinderella's Big Score: Women of the Punk and Indie Underground" by
* "Girls Make Media" by Mary Celeste Kearney (Routledge, 2006)
* "Rock She Wrote: Women Write About Rock, Pop and Rap" Ed. by Evelyn McDonnell and Ann Powers
* [http://www.myspace.com/spiderandthewebs Spider and the Webs Myspace]
* [http://www.bumpidee.com Bumpidee Online]
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Look at other dictionaries:
Tobi Vail — est une musicienne, fondatrice de fanzine, critique rock et théoricienne féministe née à Olympia (État de Washington, États Unis). Elle a officié dans The Go Team, avec Calvin Johnson, de 1985 à 1989, groupe avec lequel elle sortira 9 singles sur … Wikipédia en Français
Kurt Cobain — Cobain (right) performing with Nirvana at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards … Wikipedia
Riot Grrrl — Infobox Music genre name=Riot Grrrl bgcolor=crimson color=white stylistic origins= musical:Punk Rock, Hardcore Punk, Anarcho punk, Street Punk, indie rock, indie pop, girl groupsIdeological: third wave feminism, queer theory, straight edge… … Wikipedia
Bikini Kill — Infobox musical artist Name = Bikini Kill Img capt = Img size = Landscape = Background = group or band Birth name = Alias = Born = Died = Origin = Olympia, Washington Instrument = Voice type = Genre = Punk rock Alternative rock Riot grrrl Indie… … Wikipedia
The Go Team — Pour l’article homonyme, voir The Go! Team . The Go Team était un groupe d Olympia, État de Washington, constitué principalement de Tobi Vail, billy karren et de Calvin Johnson de Beat Happening. le groupe s est séparé au bout de 5… … Wikipédia en Français
Bikini Kill — est un groupe punk rock de riot grrrl, créé à Olympia, Washington, en octobre 1990. Il est considéré comme le groupe précurseur du mouvement riot grrrl. Bikini Kill, de par ses paroles radicales antisexistes, a inspiré nombre de groupe punk… … Wikipédia en Français
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