Local Current Blog

Music History Spotlight: The Wahinis

An early line-up of the Wahinis (Photo courtesy Chris Valenty)

In the true spirit of punk rock and girl power, Jill Krimmel taught herself guitar and founded Minneapolis pop-punkers The Wahinis after being told by a former boyfriend and bandmate that her days as a musician were over.

“When we broke up, he said to me, ‘You’ll never be in another band because I wrote all the songs and played the guitar,’ and that made me mad,” Krimmel said. “So I showed him.”

Soon enough, the band that had originated partially out of spite grew to have a life of its own, playing shows around the Twin Cities from 1989 to 1996. The band’s career highlights included airplay on local radio stations, playing at 7th Street Entry multiple times and opening for Material Issue at First Avenue to a sold out crowd.

“There weren’t a lot of bands with a female lead singer that rocked hard. That’s what I wanted to be, a band that rocked really hard,” Krimmel said.

The Wahinis, which is Hawaiian slang for “The Chicks,” began with Krimmel, Linda Pitmon (of ZuZu’s Petals) and Jennifer Jurgens, but the all-girl lineup was more by chance than on purpose, Krimmel said. John Crozier (of the Hang Ups) soon joined them on guitar, and the shifting lineup went on to include Dave Evenhouse, Chris Valenty and Jim DeRogatis (of “Sound Opinions”).

The band’s influences included local act Funseekers, Shocking Blue and Siouxsie and the Banshees, Krimmel said.

The Wahinis also became known for their covers outside of the pop punk realm, such as Deep Purple’s “Space Truckin’” and Johnny Cash’s “I Still Miss Someone.”

Chris Valenty, Jim DeRogatis, Jill Krimmel and John Crozier at a Wahinis show. Valenty often taped lighters to his nipples and lit audience members’ cigarettes. “I just wanted to feel like I was serving more of a function,” Valenty said. “I just wasn’t as entertaining as Jill so I had to try to do something.”

Krimmel’s showmanship and the group’s simple pop layered with Crozier’s noise-rock guitar attracted Valenty to the band as a fan. He thought the band stood out in the Twin Cities as “kind of aggressive, wild and obnoxious,” and bought seven copies of the group’s first single, “Sweet ‘n’ Low.”

“I really think [Krimmel] was in it for the right reasons, and you can’t say that about a lot of local bands back then. She had fun on stage, laughed a lot. [She was] giddy, kind of happy, kind of insane in a way. It seemed at the time like, ‘What is this?’” Valenty said. “It just seemed like really really different from everything that I’d ever seen in the Twin Cities. It really hit me hard.”

Eventually, he joined the band on bass guitar. He remembers being awestruck during his first rehearsal, when they covered The Stooges’ “Loose” and Krimmel was “screaming until she turned red.”

“To be in the same room as somebody who’s just giving 100 percent, it’s mind blowing; it’s really a wonderful thing,” Valenty said.

During her time in the band, Krimmel graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in German language and literature, graduated from hygiene school and worked as a dental hygienist.

“We really weren’t into the business of music. We just wanted to have fun,” Krimmel said.

Krimmel said the band hopes to release an album compiled of songs recorded in 1995 sometime in the fall of 2016.

Jackie Renzetti a student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She is a projects editor at the Minnesota Daily and hosts Radio K’s “Off the Record.”