The textbook American cult band of the 1980s, the Violent Femmes captured the essence of teen angst with remarkable precision; raw and jittery, the trio’s music found little commercial success but nonetheless emerged as the soundtrack for the lives of troubled adolescents the world over. The group formed in the early ’80s, and comprised singer/guitarist Gordon Gano, bassist Brian Ritchie, and percussionist Victor DeLorenzo.
After being discovered by the Pretenders’ James Honeyman-Scott, the Violent Femmes signed to Slash and issued their self-titled 1983 debut, a melodic folk-punk collection which struck an obvious chord with young listeners who felt a strong connection to bitter, frustrated songs like “Blister in the Sun,” “Kiss Off,” and “Add It Up.” The album remained a rite of passage for succeeding generations of teen outsiders, and after close to a decade in release, it finally achieved platinum status.
“American Music” is a warts-and-all exploration of the bands history, including all the of music and the turmoil. For instance, Gordon Gano and bassist Brian Ritchie have navigated lawsuits over the use of their iconic punk masterpiece, “Blister In the Sun”, after Gano licensed the song for use in a Wendy’s TV commercial. Other infighting has also plagued the band in recent years, including the departure of original drummer Victor DeLorenzo not once, but twice.
From idealistic youth to extended layoff, the Violent Femmes have navigated some significant obstacles along the way to alternative rock icons. “American Music” will take us through it all.