Le Tigre polishes its rock n roar
Kathleen Hanna's band takes new beats and songs on tour
ORiginal riot grrrl Kathleen Hanna and her band Le Tigre are back.
(Quick recap: Hanna is an ex-Portlander. She went to Lincoln High School for a spell and then to Grant. At Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., she got radicalized, and she and her gal pals sparked a fiery new brand of feminism built on rock 'n' roll.)
Hanna is still best known as the singer for the early '90s punk band Bikini Kill and songs with such subtle directives as 'Suck My Left One.' After Bikini Kill, Hanna moved to New York and recorded as Julie Ruin for a brief period.
But that's old history. It's a post-riot grrrl world and the cat-eyed Hanna is 34. She lives in Manhattan with Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz and their mutt, Freddie. Still political, brash and funny, Hanna has different objectives now.
'What I can change is smaller,' she says. 'You add your teaspoon to the bucket.' And a mighty teaspoon it is.
Le Tigre plans to release its third album in the spring, and the band will be working out some of their new material, along with a few cover songs, at a show at the Roseland.
'That's the Starry Night, right?' she asks referring to the club's past life, like someone who hasn't been home in a long time.
Le Tigre puts on a fanatically fun stage show with videos, singalongs and jokey, Devo-like dance steps. Imagine '80s minimalist electro, a '50s-era band like the Shirelles and sampled beats. Le Tigre hopscotches between rock and electronica with abandon.
'It used to be when someone left the band that it felt over. But with Le Tigre it just wasn't over when Sadie (Benning) left,' Hanna says. 'The second album ('Feminist Sweepstakes') was really just getting to know each other and working J.D. (Samson) into the band.' Now that Le Tigre has gotten over that hump, their next album should be even stronger.
Musically, the band continues to cruise the endless techno corridors.
'I love my iPod,' Hanna says. 'It's the coolest thing in the world. We're all writing songs. Everybody's programming, and everyone's writing. We get along as a band, but we're also learning how to take criticism and to give it.'
A little-known fact about Hanna's heritage is that she's related to Portland's cross-dressing doyenne of entertainment, the inimitable Darcelle.
'He's, like, my second-second cousin,' Hanna says. 'I sang at my sister's wedding when I was like 16, 17, and he came up to me afterward and said: 'If you were a guy, I'd totally put you in my show.' '