Best known as an important figure on the early Los Angeles punk rock scene, Alice Bag is more than just another rock & roll diva. Bag is a singer, songwriter, bandleader, author, educator, and activist who has made her mark on underground art and culture in a career that's run close to four decades. Alice Bag was born Alicia Armendariz in Los Angeles, California on November 7, 1958. Alice's parents were Mexican immigrants and her father was bitter and emotionally unstable, planting the seeds of anger and defiance in Alicia that would later manifest themselves in her work. As a teenager, Alice was a passionate glam rock fan, and in 1977 she skipped school to go to the CBS television studios in hopes of catching a glimpse of Elton John, who was making a guest appearance on Cher's variety show. There Alice met Patricia Morrison, a fellow teenage glam devotee, and together they decided to form a band of their own called Femme Fatale. As the sounds of the burgeoning punk rock scene began to make their way through Los Angeles, Femme Fatale quickly evolved into the Bags, with Alice and Patricia both taking the last name Bag as part of their stage names. After playing their first show at the infamous punk venue the Masque, the Bags became a fixture on the Los Angeles scene. They released a celebrated independent single, "Survive" b/w "Babylonian Gorgon," in 1978, and Bag was one of the first Chicana artists to emerge in punk rock.
By 1980, the band was splitting up, and Alice and Patricia were at odds over who owned the right to the name the Bags when Alice was invited to appear in Penelope Spheeris' documentary on the L.A. punk movement, The Decline of Western Civilization. Alice and several Bags alumni played under the name the Alice Bag Band, performing the song "Gluttony." As the film became a cult item, Bag's fiery performance earned an international reputation, but by that time she had moved on to other projects. (A collection of Bags singles, demos, and live tapes, All Bagged Up: The Collected Works 1977-1980, would receive belated release in 2007.) Bag and Tracy Lea soon formed the aggressive all-female band Castration Squad, and in the late '80s Bag helped form Cholita, where she offered her own perspective on Latin music. During this period, Bag enrolled in college, received a degree in philosophy, and pursued a career as an educator, teaching in bilingual schools in Los Angeles, as well as teaching in war-torn Nicaragua for a spell. Bag took time off from her career to raise her daughter, but channeled the experience into a band she formed with several other rockers turned parents called Stay at Home Bomb. In 2011 Bag published an autobiography, Violence Girl: From East LA Rage to Hollywood Stage — A Chicana Punk Story, which chronicled her life before, during, and after her tenure in the Bags from a feminist viewpoint. The memoir earned rave reviews, and during her book tour, she performed some of her songs at several stops. In 2015 Bag self-published a second book, Pipe Bomb for the Soul, which focused on her experiences in Nicaragua. In 2016 Bag returned to music with her first solo album, an eclectic and outspoken effort titled Alice Bag. The album received enthusiastic reviews, and Bag performed across the United States, sharing her music and message with old and new fans. In 2018 Bag dropped her second album, Blueprint, another set of smart, impassioned songs that included a guest appearance from riot grrrl icon Kathleen Hanna. ~ Mark Deming