Pagan Babies (band)

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Pagan Babies
Pagan Babies.jpg
A promotional shot of the band featured on their demo tape.
Background information
Origin San Francisco, California, U.S.
Genres Dream pop, new wave
Years active 1985
Associated acts Sugar Babydoll, The Italian Whorenuns, Hole, Babes in Toyland
Members Courtney Love
Kat Bjelland
Janis Tanaka
Deirdre Schletter

Pagan Babies were a short-lived American rock band from San Francisco, California, formed by Kat Bjelland and Courtney Love in late 1985. Bjelland, who later became the frontwoman for the successful rock band, Babes in Toyland, and Love, who later became the frontwoman of the successful alternative rock band Hole, had already been members in an unsuccessful project, Sugar Babydoll, who were based in Portland, Oregon and played a similar musical style to the Pagan Babies.

The band only lasted a few months, and only in their career played two shows at house parties, which were described as little more than "hanging out and having fun."[1]


The band was formed c. late 1985 by both Kat Bjelland and Courtney Love.[2] Love sang lead vocals while Bjelland focused on lead guitar and backing vocals. Soon after their formation, the duo recruited Janis Tanaka to play bass, and through Tanaka found a drummer/pianist, Deirdre Schletter. The band soon began rehearsing in friends' bedrooms, and played numerous covers and some originals during their jam sessions.

Love and Bjelland's shared apartment in San Francisco became the Pagan Babies' rehearsal space. It was here that they recorded a demo tape in December 1985. Aside from the band's four main songs, "I See Nothing," "Colder Than Me," "My Angels" and "All Roads Lead to" were also written,[3] though only may have been embryonic lyrics written by Love.

The band performed live twice before splitting up, first in a friend's bedroom, where they played electric versions of their songs, and second in a friend's living room with acoustic guitars. Both shows and rehearsals were later described as just about "getting together and screwing off". During their post-show period, Bjelland began writing songs inspired by hardcore punk band Frightwig — some of which would later become Babes in Toyland songs — a band introduced to Bjelland by Tanaka's boyfriend at the time. Love, determined to conserve the band's new wave and dream pop-inspired sound, was not impressed with the new material and subsequently, an internal feud developed within the band. The night Love left the band, she was noted as saying "you're never going to get anywhere playing that punk rock noise."[4]

After Love's departure, the band disbanded and the remaining members became the short-lived Italian Whorenuns. In retrospect, Love referred to Pagan Babies as one of her "pretend bands" that never manifested.[5]


The band recorded a demo tape on one of the member's 4-track cassette deck in December 1985 prior to their splitting up.[4] The demo tape was rumoured to have been broadcast on local radio. The tape contained four songs:

  • "Cold Shoulders" (written by Love and Bjelland)
  • "Bernadine" (written by Love)
  • "Best Sunday Dress" (written by Love and Bjelland)
  • "Quiet Room" (written by Love and Bjelland)

"Best Sunday Dress" would later be rearranged by Love's band, Hole. Though performed frequently throughout the band's 1994-1995 tour dates, a studio version of the song was only recorded in 1997 and appeared as a b-side on the band's most notable single, "Celebrity Skin." A clip from the master tape of the demo would also appear on the Hole track "Starbelly," which was released on the band's debut album Pretty on the Inside in September 1991. "Quiet Room" would later be redone by Bjelland's band, Babes in Toyland, on their 1991 EP To Mother and again on the band's 1992 studio album Fontanelle. Though, "Quiet Room" was inspired by Love's stay at Hillcrest school in her teen years according to Dirty Blonde: The Diaries of Courtney Love where it features on some pages old records from the school, and lyrics to the song– although being so, the accuracy of whether Love really wrote the song is questioned due to Love stating differently at several different times.

In 2004, the complete demo tape circulated amongst trading circles online. The songs were transferred to MP3 format from a copy of Janis Tanaka's friend's cassette. It was also rumoured in 2006 that Sympathy for the Record Industry, Hole's one-time label, were planning to release at least one song from the Pagan Babies demos in a compilation, but the idea was later dropped. However, "Quiet Room" saw release on Babes in Toyland's 2004 compilation, The Best of Babes In Toyland and Kat Bjelland.[6]


See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Pagan Babies". Moon Washed Rose. Archived from the original on January 16, 2006. Retrieved December 17, 2007. 
  2. ^ "The 15 Grungiest Grunge Artists: A Power Ranking". Paper Magazine. September 24, 2014. Retrieved December 5, 2016. 
  3. ^ Love, Courtney (2006). Dirty Blonde: The Diaries of Courtney Love. Picador. p. 66. ISBN 0-330-44546-4. 
  4. ^ a b Donohoe, Martin. "Bernadine – all thoses bands, all that glam". Bernadine. Retrieved January 12, 2011. 
  5. ^ Kane, Ashleigh (April 2016). "Courtney Love on Kurt, Hole, Andy Warhol and feminism". Dazed. Retrieved December 5, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Babes In Toyland And Kat Bjelland - The Best Of Babes In Toyland And Kat Bjelland". Discogs. Retrieved 2016-12-17.