sound of my love will kill you
If I mention Huggy Bear what's your first reaction? Cartoon Riot
Grrrrl boy-hating joke band? Thanks to the NME, it's the reaction
of the majority of people and if you've dismissed Huggy Bear you're
missing out on some of the most vital and vibrant records ever made.
I think Huggy Bear are my favourite band of all time, in terms of
the whole. The music, the style, the personality, the packaging,
the inspiration. Huggy Bear changed my life and I'll never forget
When I first heard Huggy Bear I was fifteen and living in a coastal
fishing village in the north of Scotland. I think Her Jazz was the
first song I heard and it was like nothing on earth to me. It was
girls being loud, angry and sassy. At the same time the Melody Maker
was doing some cool articles on HB and riot girl and I sent off
for Ablaze! fanzine. It was my first fanzine and I was enthralled
by Karren's descriptions of HB and the Nation of Ulysses:
"They're not just singing about the fucking girl boy boy girl
revolution, they're having these insane arguments in their songs.
She's telling him, she's telling him, and she's so tough I wish
she could tell it better with her great teeth with her brilliant
That was the greatest thing about Huggy Bear - the argument between
Niki and Chris. He shouted and she screamed - it was the sound of
pure hate, the sound of two people stuck in a room getting on eachothers'
nerves until all hell breaks loose. Huggy Bear songs were always
edgy and brittle like they were going to break apart in a mess of
I bought all the Huggy Bear records from then on - which meant
searching out mail order places and dicovering the thrill of new
records in the post, something I still get way over-excited about.
I got Her Jazz and the previous single Kiss Curl and fell in love
totally. They were like these supercool alien kids to me with their
put-downs and poetry. Niki's angel snarl and Chris' ranting, the
schoolgirl shouting and explosive shuddering jerky dance guitars.
And the record sleeves with their detailed enthusing of action and
They played on The Word, Channel 4's late-night celebration of
the weird and tasteless. Niki in a bright red bob, Jo with her bubble
shades and Chris dancing like he knew it was the greatest song on
earth. Afterwards they heckled against the sexist features and got
kicked out of the studio. It was one of the greatest televisual
My favourite Huggy Bear recording is a tape I made of a John Peel
session when Radio One was making the switch to FM. It was kind
of like Channel 5 then - some places had appalling reception and
I was unlucky enough to live in one of them. I taped the four songs
and the songs fizzed and crackled and faded in and out, suffocated
by the hiss. But it sounds so fantastic - the sort of thing you
could never recreate in a recording studio. Niki is spitting and
the guitars are squalling. It's perfect.
Their final release in the UK was also their first full length
album, 'Weaponry Listens To Love'. At the time the NME scoffed derisively
that Huggy Bear were trying to sound like Fugazi. Like that was
a bad thing! It was the best thing they could have done - to lose
the blatant in-your-face taunting and instead concentrate on subtle
ferocity and whispered threats, sex and confusion, sabotage and
hardcore. If Her Jazz was a public slap in the face, Weaponry was
a voice in the darkness, filling your head with evil threats and
disconcerting nightmares. It's so claustrophobic and seething with
tales of deceit and distrust and hate.
Huggy Bear split soon after and scattered themselves into new projects
of music and writing but you could never really keep your eye on
them and their whereabouts are pretty much unknown. But they never
felt the need to be worshipped or put on any pedestal - they did
what they had to do and finished when they wanted to.
"We had our own future plan.What strengths these feeble arms
hold. We were peerless. We didn't pull back from what we found
difficult, or that shocked or upset us. We didn't fear the disapproval
of friends, associates or idols" - Niki
Revolution Girl Style
The idea of Riot Girl stemmed from Dischord and K, community orientated
record labels with independent principles, and bands like Bikini
Kill and the Nation of Ulysses. Riot Girl just had a new slant -
they wanted to inspire girls to get involved in underground music
- to form bands, to write fanzines, to start their own record labels,
to meet up and make friends. Hardly revolutionary man-hating stuff
but for girls like me, stuck in the back of beyond, it was life-changing.
Linus sent me some literature and put me in touch with girls in
my area, opened my eyes to the idea that instead of complaining
that nothing was happening you could get out there and do it yourself.
I started to buy fanzines and write fanzines and go to see bands
in Aberdeen and became interested in politics and doing things independently.
The NME likes to talk about how it killed Riot Girl - like hell
it did! What they failed to realise was that Riot Girl was a long-term
plan, about changing the way people go about things, about inspiration
and ideas. Proving you could do it, giving you the confidence to
do things yourself, to do things your own way and to build networks
of like-minded people who would offer help and support.
And when Huggy Bear split up it wasn't the end of Riot Girl -
there were thousand of people passing on their inpirations. Think
of bis and what they inspired - a whole new DIY emphasis of small
independent labels, fanzines, only playing gigs without age restrictions.
And all of bis [the boys as well] totally inspired by Riot Girl.
Or take Slampt - one of the most hard-working, fiercely independent
labels, dedicated to documenting their local music community and
producing one of the most thought-provoking, questioning fanzines
in the UK. And then they in turn have inspired labels like Gringo
who are managing to bridge the gap between the 'indie pop' bis/chemikal
underground side and the Dischord/hardcore scene side. Riot Girl
didn't invent these ideas - they just put a new slant on it - made
it more accessible to girls. Sure, it had it's faults but Riot Girl
inspired and politicised and the influence can still be felt strongly
Huggy Bear discography:
Rubbing the Impossible to Burst 12" [1992, Wiiija]
Kiss Curl for the Kid¥s Lib Guerrillas 7" [1992, Wiiija]
Her Jazz 7" [1993, Wiiija]
Our Troubled Youth [1993, Catcall] split LP w/ Bikini Kill
Don't Die 7" [1993. Wiiija]
Taking the Rough with the Smooch 10" [1993, Time Bomb] compilation
of last 3 singles
Long Distance Lovers 7" [1993, Gravity]
Main Squeeze CD [1994, Fellaheen]
Weaponry Listens to Love LP [1994, Wiiija]
Article by Marceline