Kleenex/LiLiPUT were one of the most influential all-female acts in punk rock history, forging a sound that paved the way for the riot grrrl and pop-punk movements. Founded in the late '70s, their career lasted only a few years, until 1983. But as their influence expanded, the demand for their songs increased. They later became the subject of countless reissues and re-releases, but availability never met demand, making their two original LPs collectors' editions and compelling many hardcore fans to pay upwards of 100 dollars for each.
The story of the band begins in Zurich, Switzerland. A handful of girls attended a Sex Pistols show and, like so many of their generation, were inspired to emulate them. Marlene Marder, the anchor of the crew, joined a punk band with some of her male friends, playing her first instrument, the saxophone. When the other members got stars in their eyes, they told Marder that punk bands couldn't have saxophonists and asked her to leave the group. She decided to start her own band, this time playing guitar, along with three of her female friends. Joining her were Lislot Hafner (Drums), Regula Sing (vocals), and Klaudia Schifferle (bass). The group dubbed themselves Kleenex and started gigging around Switzerland.
Their lyrics were clever and lighthearted, their riffs refreshing and innocent. Most punk bands at the time were following the Sex Pistols' angst-ridden approach to rock, but these girls were composing happy-go-lucky pop songs. The band was featured on Switzerland's Sunrise Records in their early days and then were marketed by Rough Trade later. In a few years, they had accumulated international recognition, to the degree that Kleenex distributor Kimberly-Clark was threatening to sue them for copyright infringement. Not in the mood to deal with multi-million dollar lawsuits, they changed their name to LiLiPUT, after the land of diminutive humans in Gulliver's Travels.
In 1983, the group fell apart, but their life in the lore of rock legends was just beginning. Their early impact could be felt on the Raincoats and the Slits. Modern girl rockers Shonen Knife, and Sleater-Kinney also credit their Swiss punk rock ancestors for inspiration. To accommodate the growing legions of fascinated fans, in 2001 Kill Rock Stars released the double-CD Kleenex/LiliPUT, featuring the band's entire discography, and a live CD/DVD anthology followed in 2010. Marlene Marder died in 2016 at the age of 61. ~ Kieran McCarthy