Jessicka from Jack Off Jill Opens Up About the Band’s Reunion

jack off jill

In the 90’s Goth-Riot-Grrls Jack Off Jill used to terrorize audiences from coast to coast with their glamorous bride-of-Chucky look, foul-mouthed lyrics and loud and obnoxious music. Fifteen years have passed since the dissolution of Jack Off Jill, but what the band created in those eight years they were together is still just as powerful now as before. Their original fans, with their blacked out lips and buckle boots, have been joined by a whole new wave of disaffected youth not even born during those riotous times.
Together, they’ve kept the Jack Off Jill torch burning, always hoping for a day when the women would return to the stage. That day is coming Saturday, July 18th to The Orange Peel in Asheville, NC when Jack Off Jill reunite for one U.S. show only. We recently sat down with band leader Jessicka to talk about this incredulous event.

Performer: It has been 18 years since you have played a JOJ show with this line-up. What made you decide to do a reunion show now?

Jessicka: I think it was about a year ago, Tenni, Jack Off Jill’s drummer, said there was a Jack Off Jill shrine on the bathroom door of the ladies iotoom at a gas station in West Asheville. At first, I thought my friend was lying to me. She is a funny lady, but it turned out the owner’s 16 year-old daughter is a big fan of the band and that was her tribute on the bathroom wall. I think that is the point when we collectively realized we needed to do at least one more show together, a “do -over.” And, because of that Jack Off Jill photo somewhere in a West Asheville ladies restroom, we decided we would play a show in Asheville at the Orange Peel and surround ourselves with as many old and new friends who helped us, inspired us or who we’ve inspired. It’s going to be a three day celebration of what was and what should have been.

Performer: It’s been such a long time since that JOJ material was written. How does it feel for you personally to return to those songs that are entrenched in a totally different time of your life? 

Jessicka: I’m not going to lie, It’s certainly been a bit of an emotional roller coaster. Thinking about the teenager who wrote those lyrics and knowing how much pain I was in makes me thankful that I’m in a better place now. I’ll admit some of the lyrics like “cumdumpster” might be hard and even a bit comical for me to sing live but they will be coming out of my mouth in front of 1,000 people. No big deal? Right?

Nevertheless, I still embrace the tongue in cheek absurdity in all Jack Off Jill lyrics. There’s a relief through my younger self’s open expression and strong raw emotions. Screaming for me is still a very cathartic experience, though it is much more difficult than it was 18 years ago. Maybe everybody will see a live exorcism? Who knows what will happen?

Performer: When you first decided to do this reunion show, what did you think the reaction was going to be? It sold out fast didn’t it?

Jessicka: I think we were all hopeful but not sure what the actual reaction would be. Social media can be a false barometer for a bands’ fan base and popularity. Yes, our show in Asheville, North Carolina at The Orange Peel sold out rather quickly.

Performer: How did “the end” happen for the band?

Jessicka: The band started with a bang and ended with a sigh. Honestly, my bass player and I, who were the only two original members left in the band, had not been getting along for at least a year during the writing of Clear Hearts, Grey Flowers. Michelle Inhell had left for the second time for personals reasons. Our band became a revolving door for some unscrupulous characters who did not understand nor have the best interest in mind for Jack Off Jill.

The stress of years of bad decisions, our record company being very unstable, the deterioration of mine and my bass players partnership, and the fact that we just couldn’t and didn’t want to fake it are the reasons we officially broke up in 2000. All of these elements created a very special, raw, and honest album. I remember sitting in my apartment in Los Angeles on July 17, 2000 the day Clear Hearts, Grey Flowers got released thinking that I was pretty sure since we were not going to tour that nobody would ever hear this album. I’m glad I was wrong. It’s very ironic and satisfying that our show is July 18th in Asheville.

Performer: You were known for experimenting with things you knew you couldn’t get away with live, and seeing how far you could push the envelope. Does this same characteristic apply to the Jack Off Jill we will be experiencing this time?

Jessicka: I don’t want to give anything away but we do have some surprises and tricks up our collective sleeves. Tenni can not legally set her drums on fire but besides that fact potential for utter insanity on stage is endless. We’ll try very hard not to disappoint, as we enjoy the stage show as much as the fans. We were a bit blown away 18 years later at some of the shenanigans we pulled live. It was a different time before phones could capture every second of a live show. Some of the things I saw in those videos I can’t unsee!

Performer: Any plans for new JOJ material?

Jessicka: I can’t speak for everybody else but I think that Clear Hearts, Grey Flowers is a great swan song for Jack Off Jill. I would not want new material to sound disingenuous. I’m also very content in my current band scarling. Scarling has been writing new material off and on but has been on hiatus for a few years due both to my husband and myself concentrating on other careers. I feel scarling is a more appropriate representation of who I am and where I am in my life and also is clearer representation of current musical taste.

Performer: It feels like the idea was just to do this one show and then be done. Would you ever think about taking JOJ out on the road again?

Jessicka: All four of us have other careers that we are very happy with and invested in. We have not ruled out a single UK show and perhaps a show in Japan.

Performer: Who are you currently crazy about, music wise?

Jessicka: Elliot Smith on repeat!
I am also very excited to play with Kitten Forever. I got to see them and another amazing female band called Girlpool in LA. I got to help Girlpool with some art for their  “Blah Blah Blah video directed by Sini Anderson who directed the Kathleen Hanna’s documentary “The Punk Singer”. The video was filmed at a dirty L.A. venue called The Smell. Being part of the making of that video brought me back to a simple time before record companies and money was involved. Both bands, in their way, showed me that there were some really incredible music being made by all female bands. I’m thankful I got to see them as I’d had not been paying much attention to new music and had immersed myself in my fine art career.  I hope with bands like Jack Off Jill, Sleater-Kinney and Babes In Toyland reforming that it inspires women at any age to write songs and share their stories and views through music.

Performer: Any final info you would like to share?

Jessicka: Well, Jack Off Jill have a PledgeMusic site that offers rare Jack Off Jill items to fans who may have missed them the first time: http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/jackoffjill. There’s some pretty amazing stuff, so everyone should check it out. It is also helping us with the costs of plane flights and rehearsals.

I’m currently working on a solo show of mixed media sculptures and paintings scheduled for February 2016 in Los Angeles. There is talk of a new scarling. album actually being recording and released through The Committee to Keep Music Evil sometime in the near future.

I’d like just to thank all of our friends and fans who kept listening to Jack Off Jill for so many years after our break up. It’s been amazing seeing how many young fans are excited about the reunion and seeing the band live. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and just more validation that it’s the right time to get the band back together.

Don’t miss the show Saturday, July 18th 2015, at The Orange Peel in Asheville, North Carolina as original Jack Off Jill members Jessicka Addams (vocals), Tenni AhCha Cha (drums), Michelle Inhell (guitar), will be joined by bassist Helen Storer (Fluffy, Thee Heavenly Music Association) to play this one U.S. show.

They will be joined by opening acts JD Samson (Le Tigre, MEN) and Minneapolis’s feminist punk trio Kitten Forever. Guest DJs for the evening include drummer Lori Barbero from the newly reformed Babes in Toyland and Allison Wolfe, cofounder of riot grrrl, singer songwriter of Bratmobile and The Cold Cold Hearts. Special surprise guests TBA.

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