Newport Beach CA | Rock
Sugar Ray is a rock band from Orange County, California. The band formed in 1992 with the name Shrinky Dinx, later changing it to Sugar Ray after the boxer Sugar Ray Leonard. Their debut album, Lemonade and Brownies, was released in 1995. Their early work was strongly influenced by funk metal, punk, alternative rock and straight-up rhythm and blues. Sugar Ray's first mainstream hit came in the summer of 1997 with their song "Fly", which was released on the album Floored and featured notable reggae artist Super Cat. As a result of the success of "Fly", Floored sold extremely well and was certified double platinum. The song "Every Morning", which received widespread comparisons to "Fly", rose to similar success in late 1998, while their follow-up single, "Someday", received extensive airplay during 1999. This album, which outsold its predecessor and was certified triple platinum, proved that Sugar Ray was definitely not a one hit wonder after all.
San Jose CA | Alternative
Collectively the band Smash Mouth has sold more than 10 million albums worldwide. Along with their number one hits – Walkin' on the Sun and All Star – they have consistently impacted radio with other recognizable hits like Then the Morning Comes, Can't Get Enough Of You Baby, and a cover of The Monkees classic I'm a Believer, which was prominently featured on the Shrek soundtrack (4, Billboard Adult Top 40).
A quick listen to their music and you realize the multi-platinum Smash Mouth is a 60s influenced garage band with a keen pop sensibility that maintains a timeless quality, a style they have created and that is all their own.
Having long since established itself as the ultimate true-to-life California party-band the vibe surrounding Smash Mouth is indeed – at its core – about having fun.
"When we play it's a nonstop party," Harwell says.
Tempe AZ | Rock
In late 80’s Gin Blossoms started to grow a huge following as the #1 local music draw in Phoenix and certainly were the hometown hero’s of their favorite hang, Tempe, Arizona. Gin Blossoms indelible jangle-pop sound was evolving during radio’s diverse mix of hair bands and grunge music superstars like Nirvana. After the Phoenix New Times chose them the cities best rock band, they qualified to play at the South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin Texas in 1989. That same year, College Music Journal dubbed them the “Best Unsigned Band in America” and added an invitation to perform on MTV’s New Music Awards in New York City.
Taking their name from a caption on a W.C. Fields photo, Gin Blossoms signed a record deal with A&M and recorded their first EP “Up And Crumbling” in 1991. But, it was not until their breakout record “New Miserable Experience” in 1992 that their rise to fame began. “New Miserable Experience” kept the band on the charts for almost 3 years with singles “Hey Jealousy,” “Allison Road,” “Until I Fall Away,” “Mrs Rita,” and “Found Out About You.” The album took the airwaves by siege and held MTV hostage with multi cross-over hits in 4 different radio formats. It was this record that rocketed the band into the mainstream going on to sell over 4 million copies making the band a 90’s radio mainstay. In 1995, Robin Wilson, Jesse Valenzuela and veteran composer Marshall Crenshaw wrote the bands 4th of 9 sound track inclusions; “Til I Hear It From You.” The smash hit was released as a Gin Blossoms single and it appeared on the platinum sound track for the film Empire Records.
1996 saw the final record of the decade for Gin Blossoms “Congratulations I’m Sorry.” The album brought two more hits; "Follow You Down" which spent ten weeks in the Top Ten and "As Long As It Matters" which earned a Grammy nomination for Best Performance by a Duo or Group. “It was pretty cool to lose a Grammy to the Beatles. Who else would you want to lose out to” say’s Jesse. The album rocketed into Billboard's Top Ten and a year of touring helped push the record past 1,500,000 in sales. In 5 years, the band released 2 EP’s, two LP’s and over 12 singles that fueled record sales to over 7 million. Their blend of Pop & Rock, now known as Jangle-Pop, became a musical force that helped define the sound of 90’s radio.
In 1997, while at peak success and after numerous appearances on late night TV such as Letterman, Leno, Arsenio Hall, Saturday Night Live, The Grammy’s, and endless touring, the group disbanded and began a four year hiatus. It was not until a 2001 New Years Eve performance in Tempe that the members reformed and began touring and recording again. “Since 2001, we have been performing over 120 shows a year. This is what we most enjoy doing” say’s Wilson. “It’s our job and I know all of us are really grateful that we can earn a living making records and entertaining people on the road. We’re doing something we really love! I don’t know many people that can say that when they go to work everyday.”
In 2005, former A&M president Al Cafaro resigned the band and partnered to record their 3rd full length album in over 10 years. “Major Lodge Victory” landed on Billboards 200 and was the # 10 Indie album of the year. Released on August 8th, 2006, it included hits “Learning The Hard Way” and the appropriately titled “Long Time Gone.” Billboard magazine called this gem “an effortless triumph of melodic perfection.” “This was a really fun record to make” say’s Scotty. “We assembled some of the old team together and recorded at Ardent Studios with John Hampton again. Ardent is a legendary studio, and were comfortable there – it was a lot of fun.” Back in chart bloom, Entertainment Weekly reviewed “Major Lodge Victory” by saying; “Hardly a half-hearted cash-in, this comeback LP marks a solid addendum to Gin Blossoms multi-platinum peak output.”
Their most recent album, 2010’s “No Chocolate Cake”, lands Gin’s back on the singles chart again with “Miss Disarray” and the album shot straight to # 1 on Amazon, hitting Billboard’s top 200 at # 73 and the Indie chart at #14. Because the band members no longer live in the same city—Wilson divides his time between Tempe and New York, Valenzuela is in Los Angeles. Putting the sonic pieces of No Chocolate Cake together presented an exciting new challenge for the band. While Wilson contributed a handful of songs, the bulk of the material chosen for the 11 track set was written by Valenzuela either solo or with different collaborators, including Danny Wilde of The Rembrandts (the Blossoms guitarist first worked with Wilde on The Rembrandts’ song “Long Walk Home”).
“In the old days, we used to joke that there was something for everybody in this band,” says Wilson. “There’s just something about the way we play and sound together, but in the end, it’s really about the quality of the songs. If you’re a band and want to sustain a career, no matter what you look like or how you play, you’ve got to have great songs. So it’s those songs and the sound we make…my voice, the guitars, tempos, that add up to something indefinable.”
Over the years, Gin Blossoms have toured over 25 different Countries including a five city tour of Iraq in 2010. “It was so much fun to entertain our troops. It’s really insightful to see first hand how our troops live in a combat zone. It really helped to broaden my understanding on the sacrifices they make to protect us at home and abroad. I hope all Americans understand how important it is for us to extend our thanks” says Robin.
Gin Blossoms are currently writing a brand new record and hope to finish in time for a 2013 release. “We never rush the writing of a new record” says Jesse. “There’s something to be said for having a level of experience where you instinctively know what works. The best ones are those that feel like they’ve already been there, as if they are just waiting to naturally emerge. I think it’s the quality of the songs we have and Robin’s voice. It’s also a matter of trust. I know when I bring in a song that Robin will know how to sing it, Scotty will know how to play it and Bill will know the groove. I wouldn’t work with guys I had to tell what to do. The key is to not try so hard.”
Austin TX | Alternative
With nearly 20 years of musical explorations and milestones under its belt, Fastball remains one of the most consistent and continuously celebrated rock bands on the road these days. After rising to prominence in 1996 with the debut disc Make Your Mama Proud, the Austin, Texas-based trio exploded into a household name come 1998’s breakthrough project All the Pain Money Can Buy, joining the likes of fellow artfully spun acts like The Wallflowers, Matthew Sweet, The Jayhawks, Cracker and the Ryan Adams-fronted Whiskeytown on the charts.
“At first the success felt weird because it happened so fast,” shares drummer Joey Shuffield. “We were playing constantly, sometimes multiple shows per day, but the big game changer for me was when we pulled up at a festival in Atlanta in our little van and parked alongside the Foo Fighters’ bus. We couldn’t really see the audience from backstage, but when we walked to the stage, there were about 20,000 people out there ready to hear all the day’s music. All of a sudden I realized it was going to be way bigger than I ever thought it was going to be and it was a huge lifting of the veil.”
Thanks in part to the chart-topping hit “The Way,” the top five tune “Out Of My Head” and the top twenty favorite “Fire Escape,” the record skyrocketed to platinum-plus sales in a mere six months, sending the guys on a whirlwind tour of the world. Along the way, Fastball scored a pair of coveted Grammy nominations, an MTV Music Award nomination and regular rotation on the late night talk show circuit (Conan, Letterman and Leno to name a few).
“There was Japan, Italy, Mexico, Germany, France, Holland, Belgium and it was all a blast,” recalls co-vocalist/multi-instrumentalist/co-songwriter Tony Scalzo. “We went to Peru with Mike Peters from The Alarm and Cy Curnin from The Fixx for a concert on a mountain top that was 20,000 feet high and played on ’Top of the Pops’ with Boy George and the reunited Culture Club. Afterwards he invited us to a bar where he was spinning records, and when we got there, we found Bjork, Liam Gallagher from Oasis and The Chemical Brothers hanging out- the whole thing you’d expect from a London night out in the rock n’ roll world!”
That momentum continued into the next decade, starting with 2000’s The Harsh Light of Day, which not only spawned the equally infectious single “You’re An Ocean,” but also a cavalcade of guest stars like the late great legend Billy Preston, Stray Cats singer Brian Setzer and former Wallflowers guitarist Michael Ward. Come 2002, Painting the Corners: The Best of Fastballsummed up the gang’s vast accomplishments until that point, while also turning the page towards an entirely new critically acclaimed chapter.
“I will say from what I read on our message boards, The Harsh Light of Day is one of the fans’ favorite albums, even though I think artistically we’ve gotten a lot better with time,” observes co-vocalist/guitarist/co-songwriter Miles Zuniga. “What’s really cool now is we’ll meet a 17 or 18-year-old kid who’ll say ’do you realize you guys have a legacy?’ I never know how to answer that, but what I will say is we’ve gotten way better as songwriters. I now know how to tell a story in three minutes and how to really stick the knife in! Our records are just better with maturity, but we still know how to rock, so it’s all there.”
Come 2004’s Keep Your Wig On, which was produced by Spoon collaborator Mike McCarthy and Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger, Fastball hit a true stride. The album boasted influences as diverse as the British Invasion to the power pop and roots rock worlds, in turn, expanding upon its radio-ready identity for some of its most astute songwriting to date.
“There was a break between new Fastball albums when we were all working on other projects and some people might have assumed we broke up, but we were always playing shows in some format, whether they be full bands shows, acoustically or at conferences for songwriters,” explains Scalzo. “There’s never been a time when Fastball’s broken up and every year on the road attests to the fact we’ve been playing regularly since back in day.”
By 2009, the trio turned in Little White Lies entirely on its own terms, which didn’t just earn the veterans the best reviews of their career, but also multiple appearances at the annual tastemakers’ haven South By Southwest. Between those recent tunes and a celebrated catalogue chock full of timeless rock n’ roll that always exudes a clever pop sensibility, Fastball’s future on the road is certainly poised to provide yet another storied chapter.
“I think we’ve grown into a really good rock n’ roll band that’s way better than we’ve ever been,” reinforces Zuniga. “I think of myself as a lifer, a journeymen, who really enjoys the whole process. We have an audience that’s stuck with us the whole time and playing shows never feels like work because it’s a ton of fun. We know people want to hear the hits and we definitely have those in there, but we try to play something off every record, have some improvisational moments without turning into a jam band, and half the time, I start calling out the set list as we go. It all depends on the night and the barometric pressure of the audience.”
Adds Shuffield: “Our overall vibe depends on the room. If we’re playing a big festival, we like to rock out and make it as exciting as possible, but we’re also known to vibe a bit more if we’re in a smaller, more intimate setting. We always mix it up so things never get stale, plus these days we all communicate way better than before and there’s a greater musical depth as a group. Those are the things I really cherish and value after being in a band for 18 years.”
CA | Rock
Vertical Horizon stands for a commitment to superior music. It’s a concept that has always meant a steadfast striving for the artistically-creative high road. Consistently at the wheel, founder, writer, lead singer and guitarist, Matt Scannell drives and unites the group, always exploring new territories of inspiration. Perhaps the most significant key to Vertical Horizon’s success today is the freedom they have from the constraints of a major recording label. Vertical Horizon works at a tempo that fuels the creative process. “Our music is coming from the purest place – there are no other considerations beyond ’Do we like this? Does it mean something to us?’” It’s no wonder why so many performers cite them as influences. They’re a musicians’ band, always user-friendly and highly accessible. Is there integrity in music? Listen for yourself and be the judge.