Bratmobile, along with Bikini Kill, was the most stalwart band of riot grrrl, the insurgent feminist punk movement of the early ’90s. Both bands are often celebrated and remembered for their pointed lyrics, but Bratmobile’s 1993 debut album, Pottymouth, had a message in its music. “We were consciously very simple and straightforward in the music, and it was catchy, and we always thought about that,” drummer Molly Neuman explains to Apple Music. “We had no interest in taking ourselves too seriously.” The bicoastal (Olympia, Washington/Washington D.C.) trio—singer Allison Wolfe, guitarist Erin Smith, and Neuman—were all beginners; they had joked with friends that they had started a band. K Records honcho Calvin Johnson called their bluff by adding them to a Valentine's Day bill with Bikini Kill, and the legend of Bratmobile’s minimalist punk can-do was born. Wolfe credits the historically do-it-yourself scenes in Olympia and D.C. for shaping the band and their debut. “People were just encouraged to tell their stories through simple songs and talk about everyday things,” she says. “It was sort of an anti-professionalism that came out of punk. People really encouraged us to just pick up instruments and make some noise.” Pottymouth is evidence of that same anti-rockstar insurgence, a pure and energetic album that was recorded with Nation of Ulysses’ Tim Green at D.C.’s famed punk-house/studio The Embassy. “My most vivid memory of making the record was that we did it in one very long day, in 23 hours,” explains Smith. Though, says Neuman, it was an epic day: “We took a break because we had to play a show and then we went to eat, and Kathleen Hanna [Bikini Kill] threw a glass at someone across the Georgetown Diner and the staff threw us out. We were like, ‘What is going on?’ And then we had to go back and finish mixing.” The band paid Green for his work with a box of black hair dye and a piece of pizza. Twenty-five years on, Pottymouth is as potent as ever. “P.R.D.C.T.”—Wolfe’s coinage for “punk rock dream come true”—gets at the conflict of loving a boy (or a scene) that treats you terribly. On “No You Don’t,” Wolfe puts an internal monologue about a toxic relationship into verses and choruses. Bratmobile's songs made art out of women’s everyday lives, their loves and struggles, and Pottymouth powerfully validated that idea. The band itself was the idea that girls can do anything writ large. The album was an invitation and an aspirational suggestion to the young women who heard it: You could do this too. The band’s marriage of feminist issues with a vibe of calamitous fun was a crucial contribution to the independent music scene of the ’90s, and one that has influenced the likes of Sleater-Kinney and St. Vincent. “I always thought it was important to have fun while you are talking about important things,” says Wolfe. “It’s kind of a ‘You get more flies with honey’ thing. That was somewhat intentional. It's important to not take yourself too seriously.”

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