The Gits

On its surface, the idea or memory of the Gits carries with it an undertone of urban darkness and human waste, but the story would be unfairly abbreviated if the killing of vocalist Mia Zapata exclusively defined the group. That is in part because the Gits in life and action helped define something themselves, if not a movement, then a place and time. A very particular brand of punk with a distinct perspective was emanating out of the American northwest during the early '90s, and the Gits were instrumental contributors to this new scene. Perhaps inspired by the honesty and iconoclastic sentiment purveyed by some early (mostly male) grunge bands, certain female artists and musicians began to explore new angles and ideals in the sonic and physical expression of their anger, hope, and existence. Although these riot grrrls as they were often called, generally got lumped into the grunge category, their music often lacked the fat '70s retro guitar riffs and mid- to slow-tempo bombast of the more Black Sabbath-influenced male grunge artists. While many of these groups played the same clubs in Seattle and surrounding areas, and although they often expressed similar political (even feminist) ideals in their lyrics, there was a punk aggression, a palpable and uncompromising commitment that amounted to a way of life for many of the female groups. Being 75 percent male, the Gits hardly qualify as a girl group, but Mia Zapata embodied the group in the eyes of many of their fans. Zapata was an extraordinary example (and ultimately the unofficial patron saint) of riot grrrl intensity, talent, and humanity.