An early band formation (left to right): Narcizo, Hersh, Donelly, and Langston.
|Origin||Newport, Rhode Island, United States|
|Genres||Alternative rock, post-punk|
|Years active||1981–1991, 1992–1997, 2003–present|
|Labels||4AD, Sire, Warner Bros.|
|Associated acts||50 Foot Wave, Lakuna, Belly, The Breeders|
|Past members||Tanya Donelly
Throwing Muses is 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.
Throwing Muses were formed in 1983 by Kristin Hersh and her step-sister Tanya Donelly, who were both attending Rogers High School. They initially called themselves "Kristin Hersh and the Muses", in which band they were accompanied by bass player Elaine Adamedes and drummer Becca Blumen who were later replaced by Leslie Langston and David Narcizo, respectively. Narcizo did not originally know how to play the drums but when Hersh told him that Becca Blumen had left the band and he could join, Narcizo said on the subject “I had never played a drum kit before – all I'd played was marching drums and concert drums. We found somebody whose kit we could borrow, but it arrived without cymbals. I learned to play on it without cymbals which then became my trademark early on.” They released their debut self-titled EP in 1984 on their own Blowing Fuses label. In the same year, they released a set of demos, later known as The Doghouse Cassette, garnering a number-one college radio hit, "Sinkhole". The demos impressed Gary Smith of Fort Apache Studios and he led them to sign with 4AD, where they became the label's first American band. Kristin recalls, "I signed with them because [owner] Ivo [Watts-Russell] was funny and goofy, and that was about it." In 1986 they released their self-titled debut album produced by Gil Norton. Hersh has written the memoir Rat Girl about the year the band moved to Boston, was signed, and recorded their first album.
In 1987, they released two EPs, Chains Changed and The Fat Skier, released 6 July. In 1988, they released their second studio album, House Tornado, produced by Gary Smith and engineered by Paul Kolderie; it was recorded at Fort Apache Studios in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The album was released internationally on the 4AD label, except in the United States, where it was released by Sire Records. Sire used a different album cover for its release, as the label was putting a strong promotional push behind the band, and label executives favored a picture of the band over the collage featured on the 4AD release. Both House Tornado and the Fat Skier were combined on a single CD in a later release. The band embarked on a tour of the UK, supported by the Pixies, to support House Tornado.
In 1989, they released their third album, Hunkpapa, which was produced by Gary Smith and engineered by Steve Haigler. The album saw Hersh experimenting with more conventional melodic structures, although the fractions lyrics remained.
In 1990, bassist Leslie Langston left and was replaced by Fred Abong. Throwing Muses recorded their fourth album, The Real Ramona during the same year. Shortly after the album's release in 1991, Tanya Donelly left the band to play bass for The Breeders, and was soon followed by Fred Abong. Donnely then went on to form Belly, taking Abong with her. The Real Ramona is considered to have a more poppy sound than their previous records. The song "Counting Backwards" from the album was released a single.
1992 the band made a fresh start with Bernard Georges, recording their fifth album Red Heaven. Leslie Langston also played on the album. The album was produced by Throwing Muses and Steve Boyer, and was recorded at The Power Station and Fort Apache Studios. The album featured a duet with Hüsker Dü frontman Bob Mould on the song "Dio".
In 1993, they recorded their sixth album, University. Hersh recorded her debut album, Hips and Makers, immediately after recording finished on University. Hips and Makers was released first, in 1994, which delayed the release of University until 1995. University gave the band their first national U.S. hit, "Bright Yellow Gun". The album was very favorably reviewed but it did not sell well, which resulted in them being dropped from Sire.
In March 2003 Throwing Muses came back with their eighth album, Throwing Muses, which also saw the return of Tanya Donelly who provided backing vocals on the album. A greatest hits compilation titled Anthology was released in 2011. The band's ninth album, Purgatory/Paradise was released on October 29, 2013 in the UK and November 11 in the US.
In February and March of 2014, the band toured a handful of U.S. cities, including Seattle, Portland, San Francisco (for the Noise Pop Festival), Cambridge, and New York City. Tanya Donelly opened for the East Coast dates.
- Long-term core lineup
- Bernard Georges: bass (1992–onwards)
- Kristin Hersh: vocals, guitar (1981–onwards)
- David Narcizo: drums (1983–onwards)
- Other members
- Fred Abong: bass (1990–91)
- Elaine Adamedes: bass, vocals (1981–83)
- Becca Blumen: drums, vocals (1981–83)
- Tanya Donelly: vocals, guitar (1981–91, guest in concerts and recording 2001 and 2003)
- Leslie Langston: bass (1984–90, recording briefly 1992)
- Studio albums
- Throwing Muses (1986)
- House Tornado (1988)
- Hunkpapa (1989) (number 59, UK Albums Chart)
- The Real Ramona (1991) (number 26, UK Albums Chart)
- Red Heaven (1992) (number 13, UK Albums Chart)
- University (1995) (number 10, UK Albums Chart)
- Limbo (1996) (number 36, UK Albums Chart)
- Throwing Muses (2003) (number 75, UK Albums Chart)
- Purgatory / Paradise (2013)
- Chart singles
|U.S. Modern Rock|
|1991||"Counting Backwards"||11||The Real Ramona|
|1995||"Bright Yellow Gun"||20||University|
- "Throwing Muses". 4AD. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
- "Throwing Muses – Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
- Freeman, John (October 24, 2011). "Counting Backwards: Throwing Muses Interviewed". The Quietus.
- Sheffield, Rob (October 8, 2010). "Punk Days". The New York Times.
- Phares, Heather. "The Real Ramona". Allmusic. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
- Strauss, Neil (March 9, 1995). "My So-Called Double Life: Kristin Hersh of Throwing Muses Finds the Common Ground Between Motherhood and Rock & Roll". Rolling Stone.
- Freydkin, Donna (August 19, 1999). "Kristin Hersh Checks Into her 'Sky Motel'". CNN Interactive.
- Zolandz, Lindsay (October 24, 2013). "Video: Throwing Muses - 'Sunray Venus'". Pitchfork
- (February 28, 2014) Throwing Muses, Mark Eitzel Noise Pop 2014
- (January 20, 2014) "Throwing Muses announce handful of U.S. dates — including 2 with Tanya Donelly" Slicing Up Eyeballs
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 559. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.