Published Jan 01, 2006Would you like some pop with your politics, sir? One lump or two? Fanciful queries, perhaps, but key to the core of Feminist Sweepstakes, the latest album by New York City's finest DIY electro ladies, namely ex-Bikini Kill-er Kathleen Hanna, Johanna Fateman and J.D. Samson. Formed in 1999 from the ashes of Hanna's electro solo project Julie Ruin, Le Tigre have always aimed to inject some rug-cutting into punk, some fun into feminism.
"We realised that we were being really unabashedly feminist on this record," says Fateman. "We've had this idea since we became a band that we wanted to celebrate feminist achievements and connect with other women, rather than just being oppositional feminists. We thought of the feminist sweepstakes as a prize or a gift for the people in our community."
And the community is the focus of the new disc, with lyrics that are poignant, but borderline offensive to straight males, such as "RU-486 if we suck your fuckin' dick!" Titles like "Dyke March 2001" and "Fifty Years of Ridicule" ("feminists we're calling you!") further the highly political tone, more blatant than the relative subtleties of the band's eponymous debut, an approach that began with last winter's EP From the Desk of Mr. Lady.
"What was political on the first record, more than the lyrics, was just the fact that we were women learning how to make electronic music and experimenting with this medium that was completely new to us," says Fateman. "By the time of the EP, we were more technically proficient and had grasped the tools we were using, so we were able to focus on more literal content."
One of the most striking political outbursts on the first album, and possibly its finest pop moment in the 60s go-go mode, was "My Metrocard," an ode to New York and a diss to its newly-revered (former) mayor. "People responded really well to the political content," says Fateman. "Everybody raised their fist to fuck Giuliani!' it was like people really wanted a song that said that."
"I was so disappointed and heart-broken by the fact that Mike Bloomberg won [last month's] mayoral election. I feel like that's adding insult to injury for New York that after this terrible thing has happened, that everyone, out of fear, became conservative and now we have this total incompetent authoritarian guy who essentially wants to run the city the same way Giuliani did. After eight years of Giuliani, I thought this city was so ready for someone more progressive."