Huggy Bear - Biography
By Oliver Hall
English punks Huggy Bear sought to redefine love from a Riot Grrrl perspective in the early 1990s and advocated Situationist ideas of play and liberation. It is unfortunate that the band’s records are so difficult to come by now, since they are as essential to the idea of Riot Grrrl, and as exciting, as the releases of their American collaborators, Bikini Kill.
Huggy Bear’s first show took place in late 1991 when the band opened for Heavenly, then the brand-new group formed by Talulah Gosh singer Amelia Fletcher. Huggy Bear’s first record is the now scarce 7-inch single Rubbing the Impossible to Burst (Wiiija 1992). Numerous 7-inches followed. Taking the Rough with the Smooch (Wiiija / Kill Rock Stars / Time Bomb 1993) compiles the songs from Huggy Bear’s Kiss Curl for the Kid’s Lib Guerillas, Herjazz and Don’t Die 7-inch records, originally released in 1992 and 1993. “Distance implies respect,” say Taking’s liner notes, “now let’s move closer. . .it’s a GIRL/BOY thing – a QUEER thing that alienates all those who detest difference.”
In February 1993, Huggy Bear appeared alongside Henry Rollins and the band Living Colour on the UK’s youth-targeting TV show “The Word.” Huggy Bear performed their fiery, popular single of the time, “Herjazz,” which announced “THE ARRIVAL OF A NEW RENEGADE GIRL / BOY HYPER-NATION.” After the song, a taped feature on Playboy models the Brandi Twins prompted what has since been described as a riot and attained legendary status as a symbolic act of disobedience, particularly in the United States, where no one has ever seen it. Andy Roberts of the band Linus remembers on Linus’s website, “Someone - Sarah from Wiiija Records, I think - started heckling. She got ejected by security as we all started shouting and jeering. It was suggested that we leave.” According to Amy Raphael’s book Grrrls: Viva Rock Divas, members of the band heckled host Terry Christian during the segment. Later that year, Huggy Bear toured and released a split LP, Our Troubled Youth / Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah (Kill Rock Stars / Catcall 1993), with comrades and movement-founders Bikini Kill, as US and UK news media burned through a momentary infatuation with all things Riot Grrrl.
Huggy Bear recorded the Long Distance Lovers 7-inch for San Diego punk/hardcore label Gravity while touring America in 1993. Guitarist Jon Slade left the band before 1994’s Weaponry Listens to Love because, says Wiiija’s bio, he was terrified of flying. The band split up shortly after a tour of the US in late 1994. Huggy Bear’s records have been scarce since they fell mysteriously out of print in the late 1990s. The band recorded sessions for the late, beloved BBC DJ John Peel in October 1992 and May 1993 that are not commercially available. Huggy Bear’s members have continued to make music since the band split, most prominently Jon Slade in the great Comet Gain.