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Refining the riot grrrl aesthetic to a simple, bratty attitude, Kenickie were one of a rash of British teenage punk-pop bands that emerged in the wake of Supergrass' success in the mid-'90s. More indebted to indie rock than either Supergrass or their peers Ash, but considerably less strident, amateurish and cutesy than the Bis, Kenickie's music wasn't necessarily revolutionary, but it had an invigorating energy that earned them a cult following within the UK music press before the release of their 1997 debut album, At the Club. Schoolmates Lauren Laverne (vocals, guitar), Marie Du Stantiago (guitar) and Emmy-Kate Montroe (bass) formed Kenickie in August, 1994 as they were studying in secondary school. All three were the age of 16. Laverne's older brother, Johnny X, was recruited as drummer, and the band chose to call themselves Kenickie, naming themselves after John Travolta's sidekick from Grease. Over the next few months, they wrote a batch of songs, made a demo and by late 1994, they had begun playing indie clubs. Creation Records' Alan McGee approached the band in February of 1995, but they rejected his offer, preferring to release a series of indie singles. John Peel played their demo Catsuit City well before its April 1995 release by the Newcastle-based indie label, Slampt. The seven-inch Catsuit City EP created a buzz around Kenickie but because of their studies and "A" level tests, they didn't release their second single, "Come Out 2 Nite," until nearly a year later. The song was the lead track on their second EP, Skillex, which appeared on the hip Fierce Panda label in the spring of 1996. A few months later, the band had signed to Emidisc, a subsidiary of EMI headed by St. Etienne's Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs. In the latter half of 1996, Kenickie released two singles -- "Punka" and "Millionaire Sweeper" -- which reached numbers 44 and 60 respectively and substantially expanded their following. Early in 1997, they had their first Top 40 hit with the number 24 "In Your Car." The single was followed in April by the band's full-length debut, At the Club.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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