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Punk of the Month: Kira Roessler

November 17, 2011

Girl Germs might be an all-female show, but we have plenty of supportive gentleman friends – and even some honorary ladies – who number among our compatriots (see: DJ Phizzy, King Cole and Marinos of On the Corner; Evan and co. over at Fancy Pants Gangsters; and Chris and Qualler of Blogulator Radio, among others). You might remember our friend Nate from fellow Fancy Pants Gangsters show (and former fellow Radio K program) Out of Step. Nate is our go-to expert on all things punk and he’s kindly agreed to write a monthly feature for you all called Punk of the Month! Watch the blog every month for a profile of a female artist who has broken ground on the punk scene. 

November’s Punk of the Month dedication belongs to one of underground music’s most unsung heroines, the fearless Kira Roessler!

Typically credited with just her first name, Kira kept a comparatively low profile in the acclaimed early LA punk scene.  Initially more of a fan and friend to some of the scene players, Kira served time as a roadie for local bands, partly as a means to gain access to shows.

Kira quickly found her niche playing in some of LA’s less-heralded groups, such as Waxx, The Visitors, Geza X and the Mommymen, Sexsick, The Monsters, and Twisted Roots.  Her relative obscurity was fleeting.

During a stint with the group DC3, Kira’s playing impressed members of Black Flag enough to offer her their vacant bass position.  Thus began her lengthy tenure with one of the trailblazing bands of the American underground punk movement.

Replacing original bassist Chuck Dukowski, Kira’s playing meshed perfectly with Black Flag’s continuously evolving style.  Her predecessor’s wild, erratic playing was fitting for the manic hardcore of the outfit’s earlier  incarnations, but as their sonic sensibilities began veering towards a slower, heavier, jazz-inflected dirge, the sound required someone with a more driving and consistent approach.

Concurrently pursuing an Applied Engineering degree at UCLA, Kira agreed to join Black Flag under the condition that their grueling touring itinerary adapt to fit her academic schedule.  Kira’s finesse featured on five of the band’s albums, beginning with 1984’s Family Man.

Kira completed her degree in the autumn of 1986, following the end of her tour of duty in Black Flag.  Continuing her musical path, she formed the group Dos with famed Minutemen bassist (and one-time husband) Mike Watt.  Boasting the bass proficiency of both musicians, Dos still performs to this day, having released the album Dos y Dos in July 2011.  Furthermore, Kira claims songwriting credit on both the Minutemen’s final LP, 3-Way Tie (For Last) and on material by Watt’s post-Minutemen group, Firehose.

Currently working as a dialogue editor, Kira claims credits in films like Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Under the Tuscan Sun.  Her editing skills even yielded her an Emmy for her efforts on the series John Adams.

Perhaps the archetype of the female bass player, Kira’s prowess has nevertheless managed to outgrow the limits of such an accommodating designation.  She truly is a groundbreaking artist, and for that we must recognize her.  Play on, Kira!

–Nate Rastetter

Nate is an alumnus of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and the co-host of the Out of Step podcast. He has volunteered at Extreme Noise Records in Minneapolis since June 2000 and presently serves on its Board of Directors.  He seriously, fanatically loves record shopping.  Music is his mistress and vinyl is his vice.  He is also a moderately talented bass player.

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