L7: Pretend We’re Dead

Studio: MVD Visual

Jan 08, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

What happens when your band is poised for greatness, has some pretty close calls with fame, peters out as a result of indifference, and yet posthumously becomes a seminal band of its era? Such was the question faced by Jennifer Finch, Suzi Gardner, Dee Plakas, and Donita Sparks, who brought their band to an end in 2001. L7: Pretend We’re Dead is the behind-the-music documentary the band always deserved, and it’s a wonderful reminder of what the band had to offer.

Though associated with the grunge and Riot Grrrl scenes, L7 actually began its life and came of age part of the underground metal scene in Los Angeles, and metal was never really a sound they abandoned, either, even as they signed to punk label Epitaph, then Sub Pop, and finally to Warner Brothers subsidiary Slash Records. With the advent of the grunge phenomenon, L7 soon found a music world that took an interest in them. Understandable, as they had plenty of wonderful songs on offer, like “Deathwish,” “Shove,” and “Pretend We’re Dead.” They balanced their heavy music with a keen, wicked sense of humor and a “fuck it, let’s ROCK” attitude.

In other words, L7 was coolness personified.

But coolness isn’t tangible, as L7: Pretend We’re Dead sadly shows. While the band was building up a fan base and having a hell of a fun time on the road, the success they were having didn’t translate into financial security, and when the fickle music world turned its back on the grunge phenomenon, L7 withered, taking a toll on its members. Soon Jennifer Finch would leave during completion of The Beauty Process, and the band would soldier on for one more album, Slap-Happy, before calling it a day.  

L7: Pretend We’re Dead captures that attitude wonderfully, as even though the band’s inner workings were crumbling, the ladies never had anything less than one hell of a fun time on the highway to Hell.  Infamous moments—from dropping trousers on The Word or throwing used tampons in frustration at a mud-flinging audience—are relived here, in all their glory. Sure, there were some bad times, and one really feels the desperation and sadness when the band comes to an end and the women face that inevitable fact—but they never lose face and never have anything less than fun in the process.

So just how did the women of L7 handle becoming a seminal band? By coming back—first in a comeback tour celebrating the band’s 30th birthday, and then returning this year as a recording band, releasing a hard-as-hell scathing rocker, “Dispatch From Mar-A-Lago,” It’s as if they never left, and L7: Pretend We’re Dead shows the world just how good they were the first time around. 



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