Joel Gibb of the Hidden Cameras talks about riot grrrl with the Guardian (2006).
With riot grrrl, it was great to see such rage infused with a queer spirit. The ‘riot grrrl’ movement of the early 1990s was like a feminist answer to punk rock – it was about female empowerment and confronting the straight male status quo that runs the world. It was great to see rage expressed in such a pure form and to have that rage be infused with a queer spirit.
Of course, the ‘riot grrrl’ label was also a useful way for the media to tag bands together. But interestingly, the likes of Toronto’s Fifth Column existed way before the label. They started in 1980 and used the film maker Bruce LaBruce as a go-go dancer. People like G.B. Jones, the Fifth Column founder, and Bruce LaBruce paved the way for the Queercore scene, which was an offshoot of riot grrrl, by making a gay punk fanzine called J.D.s . They talked about a fictional Queercore rock scene before it even existed. They created everything from their basement without actually having any bands or people involved. But it really caught on, and the music followed.
Bands such as Fifth Column, Mecca Normal and Huggy Bear were about a DIY aesthetic as well as feminism and queer politics. They comprised both men and women and therefore challenged even feminist purists in their portrayal of gender roles. To quote Jean Smith, riot grrrl pioneer and lyricist for Mecca Normal: ‘There can be just as many feminisms as there are feminists.’
The movement had a lasting legacy. You can see it in the work of artists such as Peaches, Chicks on Speed and Le Tigre. As much as she is about partying and sex, Peaches twists the cultural messages of hip hop and mainstream music. Her cover of the Black Eyed Peas’ ‘My Humps’ is called ‘My Dumps’. It’s about taking a shit: it’s pretty funny and the lyrics are really, really smart.
In 2011, the Hidden Cameras covered Mecca Normal’s song “Throw Silver.”