Yesterday, after announcing and rehearsing for a reunion, Minnesota grunge greats Babes In Toyland announced their first show since 2001. Today, a Rolling Stone feature by Mark Yarm (author of the grunge oral history Everybody Loves Our Town) reveals the reunion’s fascinating backstory.
It seems the reunion is being bankrolled by a trio of rich former Google employees who created an LLC called Powersniff for the explicit purpose of getting Babes back together:
Now, travel to and from the Babes’ monthly L.A. practices (which began in August) and other comeback-related costs are being covered by Powersniff, a group co-founded by early Googlers Chris Skarakis, Eric Fredricksen and Jon Motley. “Once a year I would say, ‘Hey, Maureen, why don’t you talk to Kat and Lori and get the Babes back together?'” says Skarakis, who employed Herman at his now-defunct digital-music company Fuzz in the mid-2000s. “And then she’d say, ‘Fuck off, Chris, it’s not going to happen.’ I finally said, ‘Hey, if you guys ever really want to do it, just let me know. I’d love to be a part of it.”
Google’s 14th employee and its former director of business, Skarakis explains that Powersniff — the name is a techie inside joke, referring to the inhalation that punctuates a humble brag — “is not a traditional label or management.” He says the Powersniff founders’ motives are less financial and more to do “something cool and fun.” “We don’t want to lose money on it, either,” he adds. “Hopefully we can come out of this whole or better, and the girls can come away with it with money in their pockets. And maybe we can throw a little bit back into the coffers of Powersniff to do more with them.”
The story also details the rough circumstances various Babes In Toyland members endured leading up to the reunion. For instance, drummer Lori Barbero, who was charged with a DWI in 2008 after driving her car through her garage and into her house, spent the past year-plus bouncing back from a serious accident at a hardware store in 2013:
As she tells it, an employee on a ladder accidentally dropped a 63-pound box on her upper back. This drove her into debt (she just moved back home to Minneapolis after years in Austin) and forced her to relearn the way she drums.
If you think that’s insane, listen to what bassist Maureen Herman has been through:
A recovering alcoholic and crack addict, Herman suffers from a major depressive disorder and PTSD, stemming in part from a gang rape that resulted in a pregnancy that she carried to term. (She’s currently writing about her experiences for her first book, It’s a Memoir, Motherfucker, for Macmillan’s Flatiron Books imprint.) Meanwhile, Bjelland was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder: “I was in the hospital a long time. I got healthy and lived really clean and got it together. It was really hard, really painful.”
There’s also speculation about new material and some details about the mending of relationships that was necessary to bring the band back together. Read the whole feature here.
[Photo via FB.]