Legendary punk rocker Alice Bag has been carrying the torch for sharp feminist outspokenness since she helped pioneer the L.A. punk scene in the 1970s, so it’s hard to believe she’s just now releasing her first solo album. As an author, educator, lifelong badass and the leader of The Bags, among many other bands, she’s been a prolific and guiding light for Chicana punks, and on Alice Bag, out June 24 on Don Giovanni Records, she continues that force-of-nature output with fierce songs of protest and massive shredding.
On “Poisoned Seed,” which we’re debuting here, Bag begins with a plaintive, lightly seething intro, a dirge for how “things have gone terribly wrong”; a few bars in, she thrashes forward with punk chords and her trademark snarl, melodic and wise and cutting. She wrote “Poisoned Seed” in protest of genetically modified seed, but tells us that it was a bit of a journey.
“I initially wrote this song because I was concerned about the widespread use of herbicide-tolerant seeds, such as RoundUp Ready seeds,” said Bag via email. “The patented seeds come with a contract which prohibits reclaimed seed planting and makes farmers (and by extension, consumers) dependent upon Monsanto for a large portion of our food.
“When I first started writing ‘Poisoned Seed,’ I thought I was going to be writing about actual seeds, but then I realized that what I was really upset about was a much bigger subject. I’m angry about the way the company does business. Its shady seed-policing tactics, the fact that it buys up and controls a huge portion of our food supply and that it’s an entity which appears to be driven by profit with little regard for social responsibility. So I see Monsanto itself as the poisoned seed.”
Monsanto, of course, is one of the biggest perpetrators of GMO seeds, and has become synonymous with the issue; for Bag’s part, the song’s a testament to how diverse her interests and strong her passion for fighting inequities across the board. On her last single, “No Means No,” she tackled the issue of date rape and victim-blaming in a typically smart and biting way—“You stupid fuck, no means no” is one of the most satisfying choruses I’ve heard in awhile—and she donated some of the proceeds to Peace Over Violence. Alice Bag also includes a song written from the perspective of her student, whose father was undocumented and detained, as well as a track about domestic violence that flips the script on the Phil Spector-style girl group sound.
So yes, she’s all-around awesome and unwaveringly so! Listen to “Poisoned Seed” below, and preorder Alice Bag here.
Image by Greg Velasquez