Throwing Muses

Throwing Muses

Throwing Muses are an alternative rock band formed in 1981 in Newport, Rhode Island, that toured and recorded extensively until 1997, when its members began concentrating more on other projects. The group was originally fronted by two lead singers, Kristin Hersh and Tanya Donelly, who both wrote the group's songs. Throwing Muses are known for performing music with shifting tempos, creative chord progressions, unorthodox song structures, and surreal lyrics. The group was set apart from other contemporary acts by Hersh's stark, candid writing style; Donelly's pop stylings and vocal harmonies; and David Narcizo's unusual drumming techniques eschewing use of cymbals. Hersh's hallucinatory, febrile songs occasionally touched on the subject of mental illness, more often drawing portraits of characters from daily life or addressing relationships.

Early group history

Hersh enlisted her stepsister, Donelly, to help form the group while they were attending Rogers High School. The two served as guitarists, lead vocalists, and songwriters for the group; drummer David Narcizo joined shortly thereafter. Hersh originally named the group "The Muses". Since the band was no longer composed of only female musicians after Narcizo joined, they decided to shift to a name with fewer gender-specific connotations, "Throwing Muses". (More recent interviews with Kristin state that they were never called "The Muses" or "Kristin & The Muses.")

Early recordings were made in 1983 but not released. A self-titled EP was released in 1984 on their Blowing Fuses label. The group self-released a set of demos in 1985, later known as The Doghouse Cassette, garnering a number-one college radio hit, "Sinkhole," that year. The demos came to the attention of Ivo Watts-Russell, who signed them as the first U.S. band on the 4AD Records label and released their self-titled debut album in 1986.

The group also co-released some of their later albums on Sire/Reprise Records and Rykodisc. With cover stories about them published in most major British music publications of the 1980s, they became one of the first successful alternative rock acts to be led by two female singer/guitarists.

The band's personnel has changed over the years. Bassist Leslie Langston left after 1990, replaced by Fred Abong, but returned briefly to record tracks on Red Heaven in 1992. Donelly left Throwing Muses after 1991's The Real Ramona, first to perform in The Breeders and afterwards to form Belly. Abong left in 1991, soon joining Belly, and was succeeded by Bernard Georges in 1993. Since 1992, the group has been a trio composed of Hersh on guitar and vocals, Georges on bass, and Narcizo on drums. During the mid-1990s, Hersh also began a solo recording career, releasing the album Hips and Makers, alongside her band work.

Later work

In 1995, the new lineup released University, recorded in New Orleans; the album included "Bright Yellow Gun," a single garnering airplay on commercial radio stations. The album's radio exposure led to long feature articles in Rolling Stone and other major music magazines. Following the 1996 album Limbo, the band announced it was going on indefinite hiatus due to the high financial overhead of being a full-time recording and touring band.

Hersh continued her solo career during this period, releasing several well-received albums and EPs. Yet her enthusiasm for Throwing Muses remained high; the band recorded new versions of several early songs for inclusion in the double-CD In a Doghouse compilation comprised of the self-titled debut album, the Chains Changed EP, and the Doghouse Cassette. The band regrouped to perform special "Gut Pageant" events in 2000 and 2001, and released an album in 2003, entitled Throwing Muses. Donelly made her first appearances with the group in a decade at the 2000 Gut Pageant, also singing backing vocals on several tracks on the 2003 album. The group toured the U.S. and Europe briefly in 2003 to support the album, with appearances by Donelly on guitar and vocals in a couple of the tour's shows. In 2005 and 2006, the band played a number of shows across North America and Europe.

Hersh and Georges formed a new band, 50 Foot Wave, with drummer Rob Ahlers in 2003, while Narcizo returned to his graphic design company and his occasional musical project Lakuna. Donelly continues to record as a solo artist.

Personnel

Long-term core lineup

Other members

  • Fred Abong: bass (1990–1991)
  • Elaine Adamedes: bass, vocals (1981–1983)
  • Becca Blumen: drums, vocals (1981—1983)
  • Tanya Donelly: vocals, guitar (1981–1991, guest in concerts and recording 2001 and 2003)
  • Leslie Langston: bass (1984–1990, recording briefly 1992)

Discography

Albums and EPs

  • Stand Up EP, 1984 (self-released 7")
  • Doghouse Cassette, 1985 (self-distributed cassette)
  • Untitled, 1986
  • Chains Changed EP, 1987
  • The Fat Skier, 1987 (seven-song mini-album)
  • House Tornado, 1988
  • Hunkpapa, 1989 (number 59, UK albums chart)
  • Dizzy EP, 1989
  • The Real Ramona, 1991 (number 26, UK albums chart)
  • Counting Backwards EP, 1991
  • Not Too Soon EP, 1991
  • Red Heaven, 1992 (number 13, UK albums chart)
  • Firepile (part one) EP, 1992
  • Firepile (part two) EP, 1992
  • The Curse (live), 1992 (number 74, UK albums chart)
  • Bright Yellow Gun EP, 1994
  • University, 1995 (number 10, UK albums chart)
  • Limbo, 1996 (number 36, UK albums chart)
  • Shark EP, 1996
  • Ruthie's Knocking EP, 1996
  • Live to Tape EP, 1997 (limited promotional release: 750 copies)
  • Freeloader EP, 1997
  • In a Doghouse (2 CD compilation), 1998
  • Live in Providence, 2001
  • Throwing Muses, 2003 (number 75, UK albums chart)

Chart singles

Year Song Chart positions Album
US Modern Rock
1989 "Dizzy" 8 Hunkpapa
1991 "Counting Backwards" 11 The Real Ramona
1995 "Bright Yellow Gun" 20 University

Song samples

References

External links

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