DONITA SPARKS (L7) Interview.


Words Mikaelie A. Evans.
Photos Matt Munx.

It’s 5pm somewhere: an interview with Donita Sparks from L7.

Photo © Matt Munx.Remember that saying, “it’s 5pm somewhere,” and you almost feel less guilty about cracking a cheeky beer at 10am? That’s kind of how I’m starting to feel as it’s 9.45am AEST and Donita Sparks mentions that it’s 5pm where she is, looking out towards the Hollywood sign as we begin our delayed phone call. Sparks doesn’t live in Hollywood, though she can see the infamous big letters sprawled out across the hills from where she does reside in L.A.

I’m thankful that prior to having the phone line connected I was made aware that it was an international call, because I probably would have suggested we go for a cheeky morning beer if she and L7 had already landed in Australia! We exchange a brief hello, which is enthusiastic – much to my surprise – on both ends of the phone. Sparks quickly asks me how to correctly pronounce my name, which is a prominent tongue twister to many of those having to pronounce it; I break my name (Mik-hay-lee) into syllables and we both laugh at the inconvenience of unusual names.

L7 haven’t been down under in quite some time, with their last Australian tour being in 97. Come next month though and that’ll soon change with the influential four-piece arriving in Australia on the 4th of October, with their first tour date set for October 6th at the Capitol in Perth. They’ll gradually make their way over to the east coast of Australia, where they have added an extra show for Melbourne fans with the support from long-time friends and boozy, punk rockin’ legends, Cosmic Psychos. With anticipation rising at an all-time high, it was hard to resist from asking about any potential new releases we could be expecting and unfortunately, for the moment, there is nothing new coming down under with them – I for one don’t mind, and I doubt anyone else would – however, Sparks did mention that it is something she has spoken to the other girls about. She casually lets me know that they might start getting something new underway after their AuPhoto © Matt Munx.stralian tour… But for the moment, they’re just jamming out new sounds during their sound checks. The line-up is still the same, with founding members Donita Sparks (lead vocals and rhythm guitar) and Suzi Gardner (lead guitar) again joined by Jennifer Finch (bass) and Demetra Plakas (drums).

Having been double dropped from both of their labels (Warner Bros and London Records) after their 1997 release of The Beauty Process, L7 later went on to release their 1999 album, Slap-Happy, on their own. With the talk of new releases being the present subject, I touched on how they would distribute their potentially forthcoming album. Reciting all of the financial and promotional issues of releasing an album independently, noting how doing it yourself is difficult and expensive, Sparks went on to seemingly foresee how it would be done. Despite mentioning that it wouldn’t be out of the question for L7 to just release new material via the bands Facebook page, it sounds like it would be through a smaller label this time because, well, as she put it, “there’s something cool about a cool, small, cool record label.” Not only are the more independent labels cooler, they also assist with the more strenuous release efforts… Maybe it’ll even be an Australian label? It’s good to dream.

Photo © Matt Munx.At their next run of shows, avoid waiting eagerly to win the raffle ticket for a one night stand with their drummer, because it’s not going to happen and that was confirmed. The possibly of fans meeting and greeting is still a maybe, because nothing has actually been confirmed or concreted. In the meantime what we could expect is one of their Rock At Random stunts, an act where the grungy punk icons turn up at random locations, dispense their portable amps and (sometimes makeshift, because their drummer will beat down on buckets or something of the likes) instruments from their van and rock out to the general public for 3-4 songs. “Sometimes we’ll do these Rock At Random shows and no one will know about it so our regular fans won’t be there, but we’ll be like, playing to people walking past that are eating ice-cream.” Then they’ll casually pop back into the van, and leave as if nothing had just happened.

Alongside their Rock At Random shows being brought into question, there were also some other hints that suggest Melbourne might be a personally favourable town of Sparks’… Monitoring their Facebook page would be highly recommended if you’d like to witness one of these Rock At Random shows, because Sparks mentioned that they’ll “drop hints for their fans to know where to find them.”

With many of their shows already sold out or selling quickly, remaining tickets are online now via the bands page. It’d be highly recommendable to go and drop a portion of next week’s paycheque on a ticket. L7 are an unpredictable band that continues to inspire and strengthen women in punk rock, while creating more history for the generations to follow. Their live shows are documented to be very much the same as their active years (wild and unpredictable) so missing out on this would seriously suck!

Tickets are available through Metropolis Touring HERE.