Gravity Kills, 1995
|Origin||St. Louis, Missouri|
|Years active||1994–2003, 2005–2012|
|Past members||Brad Booker|
Gravity Kills is an American industrial rock band from St. Louis, Missouri. Their music was described by one critic as "a blending of eerie industrial rock with a pop-infused melodic chorus and a bit of hard-core head banging."
The band was formed in 1994. They had their first hit single with "Guilty", a track later released on their self-titled album Gravity Kills. Gravity Kills' songs were featured on the soundtracks for Mortal Kombat, Se7en, Escape from L.A., and Kissing a Fool, as well as video games like Test Drive: Off-Road. They have toured with such bands as Sevendust and Pigface.
The band released two additional albums of new material, Perversion in 1998 and Superstarved in 2002, as well as a remix album in 1997. Their singles "Falling," from Perversion and "One Thing," from Superstarved, achieved minor success.
In August 1999, drummer Kurt Kerns left the band to pursue a career in architecture. Gravity Kills departed TVT Records and signed to Sanctuary Records and drummer Brad Brooker joined the band to perform and release the third album Superstarved. Following a severe injury to keyboardist Doug Firley's hands, and lack of tour support from their record label, they were unable to complete a tour for Superstarved and broke up in 2003.
Since 2006, Gravity Kills has reunited for occasional one-off festivals and shows.
Formation, name and mainstream success (1994–1996)
As the band was forming in 1994, keyboardist Doug Firley was reading an article where he misread what he thought said "like the Gravity Kills." He went back through the article and could not find what he thought he had read. Doug told drummer Kurt Kerns and guitarist Matt Dudenhoeffer about it and thought that Gravity Kills would be a great name for the band. Kurt and Matt really made sense of the name when comparing what they were doing with music (deconstructing samples and noise) to an architect they were both into named Lebbeus Woods and his theories regarding deconstruction and ultimately reconstruction. In response to a contest from St. Louis area radio station KPNT for a compilation CD of local artists, keyboardist/programmer Doug Firley, guitarist Matt Dudenhoeffer and drummer/bassist Kurt Kerns brought in vocalist Jeff Scheel to record and mix a track in one week during the summer of 1994. The resulting song, "Guilty," was given heavy airplay and quickly became the number one-requested song at the station. The band continued to write and record songs and subsequently signed with TVT Records.
Self-titled debut album, film appearances and tours (1994–1996)
The band's first self-titled album was released in March 1996. "Guilty," the first single, charted in the top 10 at nearly every Modern Rock Radio station in the country. The first album also produced top 10 singles Enough, Down and Blame. More music videos would soon follow for Enough and Blame. Hollywood also embraced the band's music as they landed songs on 3 high-profile soundtracks: Seven, Mortal Kombat and Escape from L.A. In addition, the song Last was featured in the film Kissing a Fool. Gravity Kills toured in the summer of 1996 with the Sex Pistols and embarked on a solo tour that fall. With the success of the first album, the band quickly established itself on the rock scene as one of the most promising young bands in the industrial music scene. Gravity Kills's album was also released worldwide with chart success in England, Germany and France.
Manipulated, live tours and Perversion (1997–2001)
In 1997, TVT Records released a remix-compilation album called Manipulated which contains remixes and covers of their Self-titled debut album songs "Guilty," "Blame," "Enough," "Down" and "Here." That year, they contributed a song to the Gary Numan tribute album Random. On April 19, 1998, Jeff Scheel suffered a whiplash when he got overexcited during a warm-up gig in the April 19 show at the University Wellness & Activities in San Antonio, Texas. He had not performed live with the band since previous live concert at the Q101 Festival in Chicago, IL on October 16, 1997, during the club in what was supposed to be a low-key gig that attracted 6,000 fans, according to the band's label, TVT Records. The injury, which put Scheel out of commission for a few weeks, came less than a week before Junkie XL leader Tom Holkenborg injured his back in an onstage accident. Junkie XL and Gravity Kills were scheduled to join British band Pitchshifter on a U.S. tour on June 3. The band released the second studio album on 9 June 1998, Perversion. The album was less successful than their self-titled debut but still sold well, rising to No. 107 on the Billboard Top 200 chart. The single '"Falling" was featured in a 1998 car-racing video game, Test Drive 5 along with the Pitchshifter, Fear Factory, Junkie XL and KMFDM songs, while "Drown" charted in Germany. On July 1, 1998 at the Summerfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Jeff Scheel got the whole crowd chanting "Fuck you!" while the show was being broadcast live on a mainstream rock local radio station, Lazer 103 FM. This was a familiar phrase to the July 2, 1997 Summerfest. The station's DJ tried to get the crowd to stop, but he was having mic problems and the crowd ignored him. In August 1999, drummer Kurt Kerns had left the band, reasons for leaving as a chance for him to spend time with his family and to return to practicing architecture. Kurt's friend and guitarist Matt Dudenhoeffer says that "He is still close with the band and visits the recording studio regularly." The band later departed TVT Records and signed to Sanctuary Records.
Superstarved, Doug Firley's injury and split-up (2002–2003)
On 19 May 2002, Sanctuary Records released the third and final studio album Superstarved. The UK version of the album was released by Mayan Records (which was a part of Sanctuary Records) and the Japan version of the album was released by Victor Entertainment. Just after the album's release, on May 3, 2002, Gravity Kills' keyboardist Doug Firley sustained serious injury to his hand in Allentown, Pennsylvania while performing in front of a sold out crowd. The injury occurred when Firley dropped the 300 lb. steel custom-made, spring-loaded keyboard on his hand and shattering the bones in his right ring finger during the band's performance of their single "One Thing." The band returned home to St. Louis after finishing the weekend shows in NJ and Rochester, NY for Doug to seek treatment and had to sell off the components of the recording studio it owned, thus ending the current cycle of tour dates. At one point the x-rays were posted on the internet. Firley later underwent surgery to fix his hand. On January 4, 2003, the band officially broke up, a statement posted on the site reads as follows:
[...]Your assumptions are true. Gravity Kills are (sic) no longer together and will not be producing music together under the name Gravity Kills. Each of the band members has moved on to other endeavors. The reasons for this are various and, unfortunately for legal reasons cannot be mentioned here. The band as always, appreciates all the support throughout the years and considers their fans to be the best fans in the world. Those band members still associated with the music industry hope to see you soon with their new projects.
The band members scattered to different occupations. Matt Dudenhoeffer returned to an engineering job, while Doug Firley went on tour with Alicia Keys as a keyboard tech and then worked as a draftsman before forming the production team Shock City Productions with Chris Loesch. Jeff Scheel went to work at the Box Talent Agency as a talent agent for corporate, casino and clubs.
Reformation, performances and future fourth studio album (2005–present)
On October 28, 2005, Gravity Kills reunited to perform for a self-created Halloween music festival in St. Louis, Missouri entitled "The Killoween Freakshow." This appears to be becoming an annual event, as another "Killoween" occurred on October 28, 2006, at Pop's nightclub and bar, featuring Gravity Kills and Fragile Porcelain Mice. Due to a scheduling conflict, Killoween was instead "The Nightmare Before Thanksgiving" on November 21, 2007. Gravity Kills confirmed rumors that have persisted over the past year on October 20, 2009 and the band has announced that they are working on new music. More recently, the band performed in Tulsa at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on May 7, 2010, and at Roberts Orpheum Theater in St. Louis, MO on June 25, 2010 at 7:00pm, part of a benefit show.
On 14 January 2011, Jeff Scheel revealed an unreleased music video for "Down" on YouTube and told some people on Facebook it was a "previously unreleased Gravity Kills video," he got the video from Kurt Kerns. Kurt recovered the video by capturing it on a videotape when it was aired and then he passed the videotape footage to Jeff. The band is currently working on their long-awaited follow-up and recently posted a studio diary[failed verification] regarding their progress, revealing a working title of one of the songs "Again." Jeff Scheel is also the vocalist of Star 13 (stylized as *13).
In August 2011 a piano cover of Beg and Borrow was released to SoundCloud.
Charting albums and singles
Guilty was ranked as high as No. 17 on MTV's active rotation and the video charted at No. 14 whenever they used to have their top 25 countdown.