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Long before the riot grrrl movement opened the floodgates for the widespread emergence of female artists in the male-dominated world of indie rock, the Columbus, OH-based trio Scrawl carved out their own tough-minded yet feminine niche within the underground community. Formed by singer/guitarist Marcy Mays, bassist Sue Harshe, and drummer Carolyn O'Leary, the group —originally dubbed "Skull" — debuted in the summer of 1985 by playing a 20-minute opening set for the Meat Puppets; with the financial assistance of friends, they entered the studio to record their debut effort a year later, releasing Plus, Also, Too on the small No Other label in 1987.
In the wake of the album's strong reviews, Scrawl toured extensively before signing to the Rough Trade label in 1988. He's Drunk, an assured indie pop effort recorded at Prince's Paisley Park Studio, soon followed, and in 1990, the trio returned with Smallmouth, a more intimate album produced by Gary Smith. Problems with Rough Trade forced Scrawl to depart the label in the autumn of 1990; a few months later, the company declared bankruptcy, and with its demise, the group's back catalog immediately went out of print.
The sting of the Rough Trade debacle clearly informed 1991's superb Bloodsucker, recorded with Steve Albini; a biting, bitter record, it too fell prey to industry whims and poor distribution, quickly joining the group's other records in limbo. After O'Leary broke ranks, Scrawl mounted the "Foxcore, My Ass" tour as an acoustic duo, recruiting new drummer Dana Marshall prior to signing with the Simple Machines label for 1993's Velvet Hammer. After jumping to Elektra, Scrawl issued their major-label debut Travel On, Rider in 1996. Nature Film followed two years later.