The Origins of the Riot Grrrl Ethos

Interview with Riot Spears. 5 Quick Questions

Riot Spears
"Do you still have to wear a leather jacket and have a penis to be taken seriously? Do you still have to show off your breasts and ass to get promoted?"

Who are you and what do you do?

We are Martha (guitar/voice), Blanca (drums), and Svenja (bass) from Berlin and together we play in a grunge/angry-pop band called Riot Spears. We love to rehearse, be on stage, and create a chance for us and the audience to release stress and gain positive energy through dancing and shouting.

Who or what inspires you?

For instance, we are inspired by Teri Gender Bender, who is an awesome performer and lead singer of the band Le Butcherettes. She is very quirky and weird and does not perpetuate stereotypes about females* and especially female* performers. We also love the Coathangers very much. Their song structures are rather unexpected and their performance is also very believable and not covered with clichés.

What challenges do you face?

We struggle with sexism and being objectified. After a concert, you talk to people and they tell you that you can play another concert, a bigger one with a lot of opportunities in it because they think you are “tasty“. We all know that the music industry is about making money. But it seems that even in subcultural settings bands gain value if they have a certain body shape or face. Another struggle is being taken seriously. We rented a rehearsal room and when we came out of the door after the rehearsal two men could not believe that we were “girls”. They thought that this kind of music would, of course, be played by a male drummer and a male bassist/guitarist. Also, another guy told us, when he first saw us, he thought we would be total beginners and would not be able to play a proper song. How is that possible in 2020? Do you still have to wear a leather jacket and have a penis to be taken seriously? Do you still have to show off your breasts and ass to get promoted? Can you show off your breasts and ass without getting into that dilemma that this will be exploited for promoting your band? We are thinking a lot about this kind of stuff. Also, we find the concept of “performing“ quite challenging. It feels like you have seen a million bands that bang their heads, shake their hair, point their fingers towards the audience, and animate the audience to clap their hands. This feels very awkward for us. Of course, sometimes we want to destroy something, too, and it feels right to move around and shake your head. But this expectation and the pressure to perform can build up in your head and make you just stand still and reject all of that. If you reject the concept of „performing“, of making bigger facial expressions, of moving more wildly, of shouting into the crowd: “how are you all doing????” what is left? We try to deconstruct these conventions of performing by adding absurdity and using humor.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

One of the highlights of our band life is being able to play on stage and connect with people. What a transcendent experience to share music and energy with the people that participate in our shows, as well as the bands we are able to play with (Passionless Pointless, Angels, Rats Run Riot, Party Fears, Banana of Death &c.)! One more example of this was our outstanding tour with the awesome band Colored Moth this February. This is a bit off-topic, but we want to give a shout out to them: their live performance is totally absorbing, go check them out.

What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

We hope that the EU opens its borders for all the refugees waiting to escape their miserable situation. And we hope everyone in this world can live where they want to live, because borders are an obsolete concept. We also hope that wealth will be distributed more equally in the future and that all nationalists, fascists and right-wing politicians realize their own stupidity and seek help via psychotherapy. Also, we hope that all the concerts that got cancelled can finally happen, especially our concert with the Decibelles and our next tour with Colored Moth. Furthermore, we would like to play a concert with the Coathangers, Le Butcherettes, Valentiine and Courtney Barnett, tour the world and have a pony or maybe three.

Riot Spears first EP, actually one song from them and two remixes of two of their songs

Album teaser; the album will be released this autumn