By Andrew Sacher
April 6th, 2021
Bay Area feminist punk band Spitboy only existed from 1990 to 1995 but they left a big impact during that time and remain influential today. They frequented 924 Gilman and put out releases on Lookout!, Ebullition, and Allied Recordings (including a split with Los Crudos), and their fans and allies included members of Green Day, Operation Ivy, Fugazi, Neurosis, Citizen Fish, Alice Bag, and more. After breaking up, members formed Instant Girl, and vocalist Adrienne Droogas later joined Aus Rotten and wrote columns for a couple punk fanzines. Drummer/lyricist Michelle “Todd” Gonzales (who also played in Bitch Fight and Kamala and the Karnivores before Spitboy) became a professor and in 2016 she published a memoir about her time in Spitboy, The Spitboy Rule: Tales of a Xicana in a Female Punk Band, with a foreword by Martin Crudo.
Now, Spitboy are set to put out their first official full-discography compilation, Body Of Work (1990-1995), on June 25 via Don Giovanni (pre-order). The comp will mark the first time that the band’s entire recorded output is available on streaming services, and it will also be released as a limited edition double LP on red marble vinyl with liner notes by Pirates Press Records’ Vique Simba and Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, and graphic design by Martin Crudo. 100% of proceeds from the release will go to the National Women’s Law Center.
In the liner notes, Billie Joe recounts a time he saw Spitboy dedicate a song “to all the sexist fucking assholes in the room.” Hostility ensued, but as Billie Joe says, “I reckon it takes hostility to create change. That’s what Spitboy’s music represents, four women in their twenties, fueled by their passion and ethics to deliver a mission statement for change not only in the scene but also the world at large.”
“They were one of those bands that were a prequel to what the future was becoming,” he adds. “Feminism, human rights, animal rights, environmental protection, gender issues… Spitboy was singing about these issues 30 fucking years ago. I’m so grateful to have witnessed it.”
Speaking to LA Review of Books in 2018, Michelle Gonzales said:
A lot of people don’t want to go to a punk show and get a lecture, but we didn’t care. We wanted to be a band for women in the scene and while at it, we wanted to tell the young men a thing or two and maybe prevent harassment, prevent rape, or get people thinking about these issues. We knew that we were alienating some people, but the music was loud and fast and angry, so it was combative, and we just thought, we’re never going to break into a major label. That wasn’t our aim, so we didn’t really spend a lot of time worrying about that.
In an interview with Freedom News from that same year, she compared Spitboy to her current career as a professor: “Teaching young adults feels very much like being in a punk band like Spitboy, a message-first band, a band who challenged people to think in new ways. I gave a talk at USC recently, and I said that if Spitboy were a class, we’d be a gender studies class.”
It goes without saying that Spitboy’s message hits just as hard today as it did 30 years ago, and their music still sounds urgent and timeless too. You can stream the newly remastered “In Your Face” below, and while you wait for the full comp, listen to The Spitboy CD (which compiled their 1993 LP True Self Revealed and their first two singles) and the split with Los Crudos below too.