“They were wearing chaos, they were being chaos.”
The Slits weren’t punk. They weren’t musicians. They refused to let genres or lables box them in; they came together to defy all boundaries. According to the Slits, they were only harshly being themselves. They hardly knew their instruments at the start of it all but it didn’t matter, because they had an uncontainable energy that needed to be seen, that needed to be let loose in order to begin to chip away at the overwhelming masculinity and gendered dominance of the music scene.
Here to be Heard: The Story of the Slits will make its North American premiere at Alamo Drafthouse Brooklyn on May 5th, and it tells a story well worth knowing. Director William E Badgley has composed a film that tells their story at a human level, with a lens of compassion and a need to truly understand the band’s intent. The young women that played in the Slits in any iteration of the group were pioneers, refusing to conform to the standards set by men for women, or by the industry for performers. As the first all-female punk band, they were an epicenter of shock and awe. They weren’t afraid to be “ugly,” loud, or lude.
This film gives you a deeper look into what went on behind the scenes, with interviews from Don Letts (former Slits manager / Punk documentarian), Viv Albertine (Slits guitarist), Ari Up (Slits vocalist), Palmolive (Slits founder / first drummer), Tessa Pollitt (Slits bass player), Vivien Goldman (NYU’s Punk professor), Dennis Bovell (producer of The Slits album CUT), Paul Cook (Sex Pistols drummer), Gina Birch (Raincoats bass player), and many more. The Slits founder and original drummer Palmolive will be at the Alamo Drafthouse on the 5th for a post-film Q&A, along with William Badgley.
Whether you’ve been a fan forever or you want to learn a truly incredible story from the young women who were even more controversial than their male contemporaries (The Clash and Sex Pistols), this screening and Q&A offers up a meaningful experience. While the industry still has a lot of problems, it has come a long way. This band had a ton to do with that progress, and they’ve received nowhere near the recognition they deserve. Here to be Heard: The Story of the Slits will make you understand why the Slits should be just as well-known a name as The Clash.
Here to be Heard: The Story of the Slits premieres on May 5th at the Alamo Drafthouse. 17+, details and tickets here.