The Gits

The Gits

Infobox musical artist
Name = The Gits

Img_capt =
Img_size =
Landscape =
Background = group_or_band
Alias =
Origin = Seattle, Washington, USA
Years_active = 1986–1993
Label = Broken Rekids
C/Z Records
Empty Records
Big Flaming Ego Records
Associated_acts =
Current_members = Mia Zapata
Joe Spleen
Matt Dresdner
Steve Moriarty
Past_members =
Notable_instruments =

The Gits were an American punk rock band, formed in Seattle, Washington in 1986, and active until 1993. They were known for their fiery live performances and retained a dedicated following both during and after their existence.

Their distinct punk rock sound injected influences from blues and hardcore, with a passionate, street-level attack from singer Mia Zapata, who sang of inner struggle, alcohol, death, survival, and determination despite utter hopelessness. The band split up in July 1993, following the rape and murder of Zapata, a crime which remained unsolved until the arrest and conviction of her murderer in 2004.


The Gits

The Gits were originally formed in 1986 while attending Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. They called themselves the "Snivelling Little Rat Faced Gits" (a reference to a Monty Python skit, episode 21) but soon shortened the moniker to just "The Gits." In 1988 they recorded and self-released their "unofficial" debut album entitled "Private Lubs" with the help of friend Ben London (later of Alcohol Funnycar and solo). These recordings did not see widespread release though until 1996 when the album was reissued by the Broken Rekids label as "Kings & Queens". After finishing school, they packed up and headed to Seattle, Washington in 1989 in search of greater opportunities.

After arriving in Seattle, the band set up shop at the now infamous 'Rathouse,' a Capitol Hill district house where the band rehearsed and lived. They quickly earned a following on the local scene and gained many friends, particularly in the city's punk rock community. Their first 'official' release surfaced in 1990 in the form of the "Precious Blood" single, released by the local Big Flaming Ego Records. This single was quickly followed up by two more releases ("Second Skin" on Broken Rekids (1991), "Spear & Magic Helmet" on Empty Records (1991), as well as the "Bobbing For Pavement" compilation (Rathouse/Broken Rekids, 1991) which featured The Gits alongside some of Seattle's best up-and-coming punk bands.

In 1992 the band recorded and released their debut album Frenching the Bully on the local C/Z Records to rave reviews. By this point Seattle had become the next big thing in mainstream music with several of its better known bands gaining national attention. The Gits themselves had gained quite a bit of notoriety by this point, thus allowing them to not only tour outside of Seattle but also in Europe, despite the fact they had no permanent record label or other professional services to support them.

By 1993 it became clear that the Gits were on the verge of making it big with the band gaining the attention of major label record companies. Production began in mid-1993 on the band's second album entitled "", an album which was planned to be their breakthrough. The Gits seemed to be well on their way when, on the night of July 7, 1993, the group's charismatic singer and songwriter Mia Zapata was raped and murdered while walking home from a friend's house late at night.

The Murder Investigation

After the initial shock of Zapata's murder, both the remaining members of the Gits and the Seattle musical community at large began an intensive investigation into her death. The Seattle Police Department initially focused their investigation on Zapata's circle of friends, believing that her murderer must have been someone she knew. Using funds generated by the Seattle music community (from benefit shows and CDs), as well as their own money, the remaining band members hired private investigator Leigh Hearon to supplement the police department's investigation. For over three years, Hearon and the Seattle Police Department investigated the crime with little or no breaks in the case. In 1996 the investigation first gained national attention in an episode of "Unsolved Mysteries", it however did not open any new leads. The case was later highlighted on several other TV shows including A&E's "American Justice", "Cold Case Files", "City Confidential", CBS's "48 Hours" and FOX's "America's Most Wanted."

Seven years passed with few new leads in the case, until a random DNA check conducted by the Seattle PD's Cold Case Unit and the Washington State Crime Lab led to the arrest of Cuban-American fisherman Jesus Mezquia. Mezquia, who briefly lived in Seattle during the time of Zapata's murder, was linked to the crime in 2003 when a DNA profile was extracted from a saliva sample left on Zapata's body; Mezquia had bitten her breast. It had been kept in cold storage until the STR technology was developed for full extraction. An original entry in 2001 failed to generate a positive result, but Mezquia's DNA entered the national databank after he was arrested for burglary in Florida in 2002.

On March 25, 2004, a jury convicted Mezquia of Zapata's murder and sentenced him to 36 years in prison, the maximum allowed in the case under Washington state law.

Related Projects

Following the death of Mia Zapata and posthumous completion of "", several projects featuring ex-members of the Gits were formed. First were the Dancing French Liberals of '48 which featured all of the remaining Gits as well as longtime friend and guitarist Julian Gibson (ex-DC Beggars). Their music was, as expected, much in the vein of the Gits although with a more hardcore punk attitude. Together the Liberals issued an EP ("Scream Clown Scream") and a full length album ("Powerline") on the Broken Rekids label before disbanding in the late 90's.

While simultaneously playing with the Dancing French Liberals of '48, Spleen, Dresdner and Moriarty also involved themselves in the Evil Stig project which featured rock legend Joan Jett. The project came about after the band discovered that Jett had long been a fan of the Gits. Following Zapata's death, Jett and Bikini Kill/Le Tigre frontwoman Kathleen Hanna co-wrote a song (entitled "Go Home") inspired by Zapata's death. Jett also included a message at the end of her video for the song asking for any information anyone had in regards to Zapata's murder. After seeing the video the remaining members asked Jett to be part of Evil Stig (which is 'Gits Live' spelled backwards). The band toured in early 1995 playing a mix of Gits and Joan Jett songs, with a majority of the profits going towards Zapata's murder investigation. A self-titled album was issued later in the year, again with a majority of the profits going towards the investigation.

Moriarty later appeared in the punk rock band St. Bushmill's Choir as well as the more acoustic based Pinkos while Spleen briefly served as touring guitarist for Portland, Oregon legends Poison Idea.

The Movie

The story of the Gits was made into a documentary film, titled simply "The Gits". The movie, directed by Kerri O'Kane, had its first screenings in 2005 at the Seattle International Film Festival to an overwhelmingly positive response. A finalized version of the film was accepted and screened at the 2007 SXSW (South By Southwest) Film Festival held March 9th-March 17th, 2007 in Austin, Texas.


* California hardcore band Retching Red included a Gits cover ("Spear and Magic Helmet") on their debut album "Get Your Red Wings".
* Alt-country band Richmond Fontaine have a tribute song to the band, called "The Gits".

Band Members

* Mia Zapata - vocals
* Joe Spleen (b. Andy Kessler) - guitar
* Matt Dresdner - bass
* Steve Moriarty - drums



* "Frenching the Bully" (C/Z Records), (1992).:Reissued on Broken Rekids, 2003
* "" (C/Z Records), (1994).:Reissued on Broken Rekids, 2003
* "Kings & Queens" (Broken Rekids), (1996).
* "Seafish Louisville" (Broken Rekids), (2000).


* "Precious Blood" b/w "Seaweed" and "Kings & Queens" (Big Flaming Ego Records), (1990).
* "Second Skin" b/w "Social Love" (Broken Rekids), (1991).
* "Spear And Magic Helmet" b/w "While You're Twisting, I'm Still Breathing" (Empty Records), (1991).

Compilation/Soundtrack contributions

* "Here's to Your Fuck" and "Ain't Got No Right" on "Bobbing For Pavement: The Rathouse Compilation" (Rathouse/Broken Rekids), (1991).
* "Drinking Song" on "Power Flush: San Francisco, Seattle & You" (Broken Rekids), (1993).
* "Guilt Within Your Head" and "Social Love (Live)" on "Home Alive: The Art Of Self-Defense" (Epic Records), (1996).
* "Second Skin (Live)" on "Hype! The Motion Picture Soundtrack", (Sub Pop Records), (1996).
* "Another Shot of Whiskey" on "Wild and Wooly: The Northwest Rock Collection" (Experience Music Project/Sub Pop Records), (2000).
* "Whirlwind" on "Girls Kick Ass" (Vitaminepillen), (2001).
* "Absynthe" on "Whatever: The 90's Pop & Culture Box" (Rhino/WEA), (2005).
* "Another Shot of Whiskey" on "Sleepless In Seattle: The Birth of Grunge" (LiveWire Recordings, 2006).


External links

* [ The Gits Official Website]
* [ The Gits Movie]
* [ The Gits at]
* [ Home Alive]
* [ '48 Hours' article about Mia Zapata murder investigation and trial]

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