Violent Femmes life and biography

Violent Femmes picture, image, poster

Violent Femmes biography

Date of birth : -
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Nationality : American
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2012-03-30
Credited as : Alternative rock band, Why Do Birds Sing?, Blister in the Sun

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Violent Femmes were an American alternative rock band, initially active between 1980 and 1987 and again from 1988 to 2009. The band performed as a trio, including: singer, guitarist and songwriter Gordon Gano, bassist Brian Ritchie, and two drummers, Victor DeLorenzo (1980–1993 and 2002–2009) and Guy Hoffman (1993–2002).

Violent Femmes were founded by bassist Brian Ritchie and percussionist Victor DeLorenzo following the demise of the initial wave of American punk rock, and became a full-fledged band upon the arrival of lead vocalist and guitarist Gordon Gano. In its early days, the band frequently played coffee houses and street corners. They were discovered by James Honeyman-Scott (of The Pretenders) on August 23, 1981, when the band was busking on a street corner in front of the Oriental Theatre, the Milwaukee venue that The Pretenders would be playing later that night. Chrissie Hynde invited them to play a brief acoustic set after the opening act.

After their debut album Violent Femmes, they released Hallowed Ground, which moved the group towards a country music sound and introduced spiritual themes. Again, Van Hecke returned to the studio as producer. Their third album, The Blind Leading the Naked, saw a change in the studio. This time, another fellow Milwaukee native Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads did the producing. It was more mainstream and pop-oriented, resulting in a minor hit with "Children of the Revolution", originally by T.Rex. In 1985, Van Hecke ended his collaboration with the group and became a much sought after composer and producer in the rapidly growing video game industry. The Femmes briefly disbanded, with Gano releasing an album in 1987, the result of a gospel side project Mercy Seat. Ritchie also released several solo LPs. The group came back together in late 1988, releasing 3, a return to the band's earlier, stripped-down sound . Why Do Birds Sing? was released in 1991 after the band signed to Reprise and featured another minor hit, "American Music," which became a concert staple.

In 1993, DeLorenzo departed the group to act and make solo records. Guy Hoffman, formerly of the Oil Tasters and BoDeans, was brought in to tour what was to become one of their biggest-selling records, the Add It Up (1981–1993) collection. Over the next nine years, Violent Femmes, with Hoffman, recorded five full-length CDs and a handful of one-offs for motion picture soundtracks, such as "I Swear It (I Can Change)" from the South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut soundtrack, "Color Me Once" for the soundtrack to The Crow and other compilation projects. The first full studio album with Hoffman on drums, New Times (Elektra Records), was released in 1994, and the band scored another minor hit with the song "Breaking Up." Rock!!!!! (Mushroom Records) was released in 1995 in Australia only, though it has since become available in the United States of America.

Viva Wisconsin, a live album, was released in the United States in 1999 on the independent label Beyond, and was followed by Freak Magnet in 2000. Something's Wrong (2001), an album of unreleased studio tracks, covers, demos, and acoustic live performances was released as an MP3-only album through eMusic. In 2002, Rhino Records repackaged their debut 1983 album along with demos and live tracks to coincide with a 20th anniversary reissue. DeLorenzo asked to rejoin for what was to be a farewell tour, thus reinstating the original lineup.

On the 2002 SpongeBob SquarePants First Complete Season DVD, the Violent Femmes recorded a :34 second cover of the SpongeBob theme. They also recorded a :30 second commercial for Nickelodeon.

2005 saw the release of two collections of past work—a CD called Permanent Record: The Very Best of Violent Femmes on Slash/Rhino and a DVD, Permanent Record – Live & Otherwise from Rhino, which showcases a concert performance from 1991, along with many of the group's videos. The CD is the first record that recognizes all four musicians and their contributions on the same disc.

After touring in promotion of Freak Magnet, primary songwriter Gano decided that they would no longer make new music, but the band would continue to play shows when booked. On New Year's Eve of 2005, and for one show in January 2006, all four Violent Femmes members played together.

In 2007, Gano angered Ritchie by selling advertising rights for the classic "Blister in the Sun" to Wendy's Hamburgers. Ritchie filed a lawsuit against Gano in August 2007, seeking half ownership of Violent Femmes' music and access to royalty accounting. Many speculated this would lead to the band's breakup. However, on June 17, 2008 the band released a cover of "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley who had previously covered "Gone Daddy Gone".

In 2009, Gano proclaimed that "Violent Femmes are over", while announcing a new partnership with former Bogmen members Bill and Brendan Ryan.

Studio albums:
-Violent Femmes (1983)
-Hallowed Ground (1984)
-The Blind Leading the Naked (1986)
- 3 (1989)
-Why Do Birds Sing? (1991)
-New Times (1994)
-Rock!!!!! (1995)
-Freak Magnet (2000)

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