WATCH: Riot Grrrl Retrospectives - Bratmobile's Erin Smith Gets Connected
In a 1999 oral history interview with the Museum of Pop Culture, leaders of the Riot Grrrl movement recall how Bratmobile guitarist Erin Smith got connected within the punk music scene, explaining how she crossed paths with her eventual Bratmobile band mates, drummer Molly Neuman and vocalist Allison Wolfe.
Erin Smith: "I got into a band called Beat Happening. That was in '87 and not only did I see women could play music, but I could see that just you could do it yourself. DIY. That's the first time I liked a punk band and just saw that anybody could play an instrument and you didn't have to be perfect. I could never be Andy Taylor. I could never be like the guitar player in Duran Duran, and I realized it was OK. I could still be good.
"Then, once I started going to shows in D.C. I started to see that there was a whole network of other people who were doing their own thing and I could do it myself too. I didn't have to be like a huge star or famous or there wasn't a whole lot of stumbling blocks. Like I thought, 'OK, I could just never do this. I'll just never be that good.' Then I started to realize I could do it myself. And so then Calvin Johnson had met Molly and Allison out here when they were living in Oregon together. And he said, 'There's this girl in D.C.' And I think I was kind of famous as this craz-obsessed Beat Happening fan. I was notorious. So he's like, 'If you're going to go home for spring break'—because Molly's from D.C.—'if you're going to go home for spring break, you should meet this girl, you should play with her because she's playing guitar all by herself in her room.'"
Molly Neuman: "She had done a fanzine called Teenage Gang Debs that I'd seen and it was really cool. Like I had just kind of heard about this mythical Erin Smith character. And so I was really excited to meet her. But you know, I was playing it cool. I was like, 'Well, I'll send you my fanzine.' And she was like, "OK,' and she didn't think I would do it. And then I did. And she was like really excited. And then we became pen pals."
Erin Smith: "So, Molly came home for spring break, in the spring of '91 and brought Allison with her, and that's when we first jammed together."