Kleenex – Ain’t You

18th September 2022 · 1970s, 1978, Music, Punk, Uncategorised

Not even hardcore punks from the Class of ’77 are likely to remember Kleenex – Switzerland’s solitary contribution to punk. Or their two singles on Rough Trade that went on to inspire the Riot Grrrl movement.

Kleenex were one of only a tiny handful of girl groups at the time (along with The Slits and Raincoats). And, perhaps uniquely in the annals of punk history, they were Swiss.

One reason for their absence from many histories of the era is that after forming in Zurich in 1978 – inspired by seeing The Sex Pistols – they were forced to change their name after releasing just two singles.

Lawyers for the US corporate giant Kimberly-Clarke worried that people popping out for some tissues might accidentally go and see a Swiss punk band instead, denting their vast profits.

Anyway, rather than a costly court case, Kleenex agreed to change their name to LiLiPUT, making them outliers in the field of fiddling about with upper and lower-case letters in band names – and making me forget all about them (if I had ever remembered) – though I think I saw them once on a Rough Trade tour in 1979 with The Raincoats and Spizz Energi.

The line-up when they were still called Kleenex (for their first two singles) was Regula Sing (vocals), Marlene Marder (Marlene Marti, guitar), Klaudia Schiff (Klaudia Schifferle, bass, vocals) and Lislot Ha (Lieselotte Hafner, drums).

Uniquely, I suspect, Marder, who had previously played sax, joined the band during their first gig. She was not in the group when it began but joined them for the encore… and was kept on. 

As ever, they were championed by John Peel and I do remember buying this, their first single, Ain’t You – not to be confused with their second single, You, or its B-side, Ü.

After that they changed their name, recording two albums and directly inspiring the Riot Grrrl movement, later being credited by both Shonen Knife and Sleater-Kinney as an influence.