The Family Jewels (band)
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The band was formed in 1991 by three childhood friends after a quiet get-together became a drunken jam fest. By the end of the night, this highly unlikely musical trio would record 2 hours of music, poking fun at neighbors, co-workers, and friends. These songs, recorded on an old beat up boom box, would become the foundation of the sound that would soon become The Family Jewels band. After recruiting guitarist John Underwood's brother, Mike Underwood, the quartet headed into infamous east coast recording giant, Big Blue Meenie Recording Studios where they recorded various demos with producer/engineer Tim "Rumblefish" Gilles (Thursday, S.O.D., Taking Back Sunday). This led to the interest of NYC recording label Black Pumpkin Records and an independent record contract in 1994.
In 1994, the band released its first single, Happy as a Fly. This was played on major and college radio stations around the US and received rave reviews by underground music magazines worldwide.
The band's debut full length recording, The Family Jewels was released in 1996 with such crowd pleasers as "Applefoot", and "Chickenman From Atlantis". The track, "Special K", would spark some mild controversy amongst the general public and area promoters due to its satirical take on mental retardation. Asked to describe the sound of the record in an interview with local music newspaper, "The East Coast Rocker", the band offered the influences: They Might Be Giants, meets Zappa, the Dead Milkmen, and Stevie Wonder.
Previously solely a recording entity, the band took to the road in 1998 self-financing their own tour of the United States in support of their second effort, "Chuck and Louise". Produced by guitarist John Underwood, and local punk legend/ visual artist, Joe Darone (The Fiendz, Suit of Lights, The Rosenbergs), the record would be the band's boldest musical statement to date. Unfortunately, due to a shift towards harder edged artists on the part of the label, all support for the release was nixed. The band was dropped from the label later that year. Despite the setback, the band regrouped, self-financing two more tours of the US and opening for such acts as Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Huffamoose, Johnny Cohen, and King Norris of Howard Stern fame. The band would enter the studio in 1999, once again reuniting with producer/engineer, Rumblefish, to record . The track, "Higher Than The Government", received college radio airplay and reignited interest in the band by majors. Despite an upswing in popularity, the band parted ways in 2002 due to personal and creative conflicts.
The band reformed briefly in July 2004 to play at the 7th Annual Chickenout Picnic in Altoona, Pennsylvania.
After the band
Brian Barry is now a copywriter for an ad agency. Miller released a solo album in 2005 titled "Complete Buffoonery". John Underwood has recorded with various acts, including NYC's Suit of Lights, and is currently producing his first solo record expected to be released sometime in late 2012. Mike Underwood still enjoys playing the drums.
- Brian Barry: Lead vocals, bass guitar, theremin, songwriter
- Mike Miller: keyboards, vocals, songwriter
- John Underwood: guitar, songwriter
- Michael Underwood: drums
- Happy as a Fly 1994 (single)
- The Family Jewels 1996 (album)
- Chuck and Louise 1997 (album)- unreleased
- 5 Song Demo 2002 (EP also titled Chuck and Louise II)- unreleased