Volume 12, Number 1, 2003

Throwing a hissyfit

When Holly Jacobs, guitarist and lead singer for the up-and-coming New York punk band The Hissyfits, thinks stadium concert, she doesn't necessarily think of Giants Stadium, although that would be nice.

"It would be a dream-come-true for The Hissyfits to play at halftime on the field during a University of Delaware football game," Jacobs, who graduated from UD in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in communication, says.

The Hissyfits have generated a lot of buzz since being formed three years ago, and have gone from playing small rooms in the East Village to international dates such as Ladyfest 2002 in London and performances on the MTV Vans Warped Tour.

"We're nearly finished recording our new album, which we're really excited about," Jacobs, who takes the stage as Princess, says. "It sounds great. We have plans to tour in the U.S. and Europe and just hope to keep rockin' out and having fun for as long as possible."

Jacobs says she chose the name The Hissyfits "because I liked the image it evokes of unbridled, frenzied emotion, which accurately reflects the feeling in our songs."

The band--which also includes Karen Correa, on bass and viola, and Sivan Harlap, who "shows the drums no mercy"--writes and performs songs that "are much more emotional than political," Jacobs says. "We write from our real-life experiences, mostly about matters of the heart. But, as individuals, we do believe in equal rights for all men and women and have performed at many benefits supporting worthy causes."

Jacobs says she has "great memories" of her time at UD, particularly in Sharp Hall "where I made some great friends I'm still in touch with today. Several live in the New York area, so I get to see them fairly often, which is awesome. We still reminisce about our days at UD and even go back to visit once in a while for nachos at the Deer Park."

Her favorite professor was Chuck Stone, who "taught me journalism and whose wisdom and character I've carried with me to this day. He influenced me greatly and taught me a lot, and I'm still actively writing, most recently as literary editor for Coolgrrrls.com and as a contributing music writer for Kitty Magik, among other things." Stone, who taught at UD from 1984-91, is now the Walter Spearman Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Although trained as a journalist, Jacobs says she has "loved music for as long as I can remember, spinning my old vinyl records in my parents' basement in Philly."

At UD, Jacobs says she listened to bands such as The Cure, The Violent Femmes and Hüsker Dü. "Now I'm more into underground indie, punk and garage music," she says, "and I still have a huge soft spot for early '90s Brit Pop and '80s New Wave."

"As much as I've always loved music and dreamed of playing the guitar since I was a little girl, I was never very musical growing up and never thought I could actually write, create and perform my own music," Jacobs says. "I first got really inspired by the early '90s riot-grrrl movement and by the introduction of cool new bands like Nirvana and Hole while I was living in Washington, D.C., after grad school."

"Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love seemed like real people making real, heartfelt, yet simple music that really spoke to me and made me feel like maybe music was something I could do, too," she says.

About that same time, she says a lot of postpunk bands and independent labels were born, "taking a do-it-yourself approach that sent a message that anyone with the desire to make music could just do it if they put their mind to it. It wasn't all about MTV, major labels, limos and big bucks. It was just about rocking out and having fun."

Jacobs says that "after working for several years in a conservative corporate environment doing marketing, the idea of rocking out and having a lot of fun suddenly seemed really appealing and within my reach."

In 1996, she quit her job, "nicked" her ex-boyfriend's guitar and ran off to Europe for a few months to learn how to play. When she returned to New York, she started a band.

"Surprisingly," she says, "what started out as a fun hobby has turned into something really life-changing and exciting. Having music in my life as a creative outlet is extremely fulfilling and fun. It's also a lot of hard work, but the opportunities I've had to travel and meet people and create fabulous art with other cool, talented people are totally worth the effort."

To keep up with The Hissyfits, visit the band's web site at [www.hissyfits.com].

--Neil Thomas, AS '76