Donita Sparks Discusses Bands, Art, Tours & the Legend of L7

It’s a fantastic Sunday afternoon and the opportunity to speak with lead singer Donita Sparks of the remarkable punk grunge band L7. We shared a phone call from her home in Los Angeles to discuss bands, art, tours, the legend of L7 and the band’s upcoming show at Mickey’s Black Box in Lititz, Pennsylvania on May 18th. L7 are in the midst of rehearsals before heading to the East Coast for their ‘May Daze Tour’ consisting of eight shows this May.

PA Musician: The band finished 2023 with shows in Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Columbia. What are the shows like in South America?

Donita Sparks: It’s still wild. The clubs are pretty gritty. Basically big black boxes. They do what they can. They’re very fun shows. 

PA Musician: After these shows in America you head to the UK and France in June and then play with Foo Fighters in July. Are you excited for these concerts?

Donita Sparks: I’m excited to get to Europe because we had to cancel Europe so many times because of Covid. We’re finally doing our album Bricks Are Heavy for the 30th anniversary over there.

PA Musician: You’re originally from Chicago and L7 originated in Los Angeles. Does playing your hometown of Chicago feel any different?

Donita Sparks: It can add more pressure to a show entertaining and sometimes feels like you’re hosting a party to friends and family

PA Musician: You’ve met and were friends with artists like David Bowie, The Ramones, Barry Manilow. Are there any artists you were thrilled to meet?

Donita Sparks: Brian Wilson, who I’m a huge fan of. I’ve said it before it’s one of the perks you get to meet your idols. Most of the time the bigger they are the cooler they are, in my opinion.

PA Musician: What might you consider the biggest highlights of L7’s career? Possibly playing to 90,000 fans in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in 1993?

Donita Sparks: Yes, that was the largest crowd we played to. It was a little intimidating but they were so into us. It was just incredible. The whole week we were there we got chased around and had bodyguards. We got to be the Beatles for a week. An interesting experience but I wouldn’t want to live that way that’s for sure. It was cool and funny but it got to the point we couldn’t go anywhere. I got a taste of that but glad I’m not there.

PA Musician: Are there any new bands that you’re really excited about?

Donita Sparks: A band I’m really into is Viagra Boys. And Amy Taylor of Amyl and the Sniffers is an outstanding front person.

PA Musician: Do you get out and see other shows?

Donita Sparks: Rarely, but I saw Adam Ant last night at the Greek Theatre and he was great. We had played with him at the Greek in 2017 so that was kinda cool.

PA Musician: The way grunge changed everything at its time. Do you think there will be another music genre takeover? Is it inevitable?

Donita Sparks: I think it will. When we started out the LA scene was very jumbled. We were just art punk, a stripped down metal, we just like the grooves and thats what the other folks up in Seattle were doing. I don’t think grunge wasn’t nearly as powerful as punk rock. Punk was a revolution. It was a backlash against snooze rock and that’s what we did. And then grunge was an overthrow to hair band metal. I think punk was a movement and grunge was a popularity. Punk was a cultural war and I don’t think grunge was a cultural war. I don’t think punk is any longer a cultural war, its pretty accepted in the suburbs. I’m glad people still love punk. I do too.

PA Musician: You’ve always expressed yourself in art. And though you have no tattoos, I’m curious about the art displayed on your arms?

Donita Sparks: It’s my secret sauce. Some things must have mystique my friend.

PA Musician: Thank you for taking the time today and very grateful the band L7 still exists and plays.

Donita Sparks: Thank you. It’s great to see our people still connect. I recognize so many fans in the audience. We see you. And we recognize you. And I want you to know that, we recognize your freak flag. We’ll see you in Pennsylvania!

My gratitude to Frank Phobia, L7 manager Robert Fagan and the amazing Donita Sparks for making this interview possible.