Rising up in tandem with the Olympia, Washington-based riot grrl movement led by feminist bands like Bikini Kill, Huggy Bear called themselves “boy/girl revolutionaries,” both in reference to their political philosophy and the gender makeup of their band.
During the course of their existence, they refused to be photographed or interviewed by mainstream press, nor gave their full names once they began releasing records formally. In spite of a major label bidding war, Huggy Bear stuck with Wiiija, an indie label. Huggy Bear did agree to sign to Nude Records, but only if the label would drop the band Suede from the label’s roster. Nude Records refused to drop Suede, its best-selling act and one of the top British bands of the time.
Their avant-garde debut EP, Rubbing the Impossible to Burst, was released in 1992, and in the same year they began working closely with Bikini Kill as riot grrl’s popularity peaked on both sides of the Atlantic, culminating in a split album on Catcall records (Huggy Bear) and Kill Rock Stars (Bikini Kill) called Our Troubled Youth/Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah, the names of the Huggy Bear and Bikini Kill sides, respectively. “Our Troubled Youth” featured higher production values than a lot of their recordings, humorous fillers between tracks and some stylish harmonising. Huggy Bear then released a long series of EPs, often with free cryptic pseudo-political motivational inserts, which would be collected on Taking the Rough with the Smooch. No longer featuring Jon on guitar, Huggy Bear would release Weaponry Listens to Love in late 1994, their first full-length album as well as their final release.
On February 14 1993, Huggy Bear performed “Her Jazz” on the popular Mtv-like British TV show, The Word. After they played their fun, chaotic set, the band stayed in the studio to watch a report on 2 American models who called themselves “the Barbi Twins”. Huggy Bear and their fans became upset at this and started shouting at the show’s noticeably uncomfortable presenter Terry Christian. They were violently ejected from the studio and a spokesperson for The Word later said that one of the band’s friends had “bit the face of a member of our production team.” The performance was given a Melody Maker cover story, the event being compared to the Sex Pistols’ Bill Grundy incident.
“ Our situation was different to the one the American Riot Grrrls were responding to. The underground in London had deteriorated totally, there wasn’t really much of an alternative . . . ‘indie’ just became an abstract term for a style of music, not ideas or values, ‘cause they were all signing to major labels. The notion of selling out wasn’t important. Punk rock wasn’t important. Fanzines were seen as a sad joke, so we had to explain stuff that might have been obvious to American kids but was alien to young British kids. The reasons for being independent were snorted at”
After Huggy Bear and side projects:
Jon joined I’m Being Good and Comet Gain after leaving Huggy Bear. Chris later did some artwork for Skinned Teen Karen started Phantom Pregnancies while Niki and Jo joined Blood Sausage. Chris and Jo also formed Thee Element of Crime in 1993 with Dale from Blood Sausage, Layla from Skinned Teen, Andrew from Linus and Daryl from Sister George and released a single, “The things you do for love…”. NB. There have been too many rumors about post-Huggy Bear activities to be certain of anything.
Edited by nick_gale on 22 Sep 2009, 17:38
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