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The O.K. Show, Episode 17: Bass player-turned-author Michelle Leon on being a Babe in Toyland

Portraits by Nate Ryan/MPR

On the last episode of the O.K. Show, I mentioned that I was pretty, pretty excited about the guests that I managed to somehow convince to appear on my podcast in this season. Today, you’ll see just what I was talking about. Because we are going to get up close and personal with a founding member of one of the raddest, most legit, hardest rocking, and highly influential bands in Minnesota music. I am talking about Babes in Toyland.

My guest on this episode is the bass player-turned-novelist Michelle Leon, who joined up with Kat Bjelland and Lori Barbero to form Babes in Toyland in 1987. Michelle didn’t just have a front-row seat to the punk rock explosion that was happening in Minneapolis in the ‘80s – she was both in the crowd and on stage, immersing herself in all the eardrum-rattling, beer-soaked moments that we now refer to as a rock ‘n’ roll heyday.

Babes in Toyland toured like crazy, and Michelle brings us along for the ride in her new memoir, I Live Inside: Memoirs of a Babe in Toyland. She also suffered a terrible loss when her boyfriend Joe Cole was murdered while she was overseas on tour. The facts surrounding Michelle’s departure from Babes have always been a bit murky, and this book was her chance to finally tell the story of the loss, grief, and confusion that set her adrift and seared holes through her rock ‘n’ roll dreams.

Michelle is a delight to be around, and I think you’ll be able to soak up some of her joy and strength just by listening to this interview.

  1. Listen The O.K. Show, Episode 17: Michelle Leon

Find the full episode of the O.K. Show in the audio above, download it on iTunes, or find the O.K. Show podcast through Feedburner.