When people think of Bikini Kill they usually automatically direct the attention to spunky and fearless lead singer Kathleen Hanna. What many fail to realize is just how equally important Tobi Vail, Bikini Kill's drummer, has always been. From her days as a zine creator to her career as a drummer with numerous bands she has been a part of, Tobi deserves some recognition as one of the godmothers of Riot Grrrl Punk.
Tobi didn't actually start her influence behind the drum kit. She actually started it by creating the now legendary zine Jigsaw. Tobi was the main writer and this is also how she came to befriend Kathleen Hanna. Hanna has stated many times just how influential this zine and Tobi's writings in particular have impacted her. This eventually led to Hanna and Vail starting Bikini Kill. The women created a new zine titled Bikini Kill to promote the band and write about the issues that effected them as women. Vail actually coined the term "riot grrrl" which is a reference to the term "angry girl."
In 1993 Vail created Bumpidee, a low-cost method for unsigned bands to increase their listener base, using the distribution of cassette recordings of their songs. This was another embodiment of Vail's strong DIY principle. She continued to play in Bikini Kill while working on another musical project, The Frumpies. Vail worked for Bikini Kill's label, Kill Rock Stars, in the late 1990s. With the emergence of the internet age she started blogging and writing for emusic where she still writes a monthly column.
In 2012, Tobi released a song called Free Pussy Riot in solidarity with Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich who were serving two years in prison for their performance in a Moscow church. As of today, Tobi is a freelance writer and continues to make music with various side projects and the now reunited Bikini Kill.
Tobi Vail dated Kurt Cobain in the late 1980's inspiring the Nirvana song "Come As You Are." She dated Tim Armstrong of Rancid inspiring the song "Olympia W.A." She has a very popular twitter and she continues to fight for the rights of women and minorities. She is a huge inspiration for this blog and I hope we can inspire women the way she has inspired me.
Follow Tobi on twitter @mstobivail
Read about her Jigsaw zine: