Letters to Cleo

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Letters to Cleo
Kay Hanley (November 2007).jpg
Background information
Origin Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Genres Alternative rock, power pop
Years active 1990–2000, 2008, 2014, 2016-present
Labels CherryDisc, Giant, Wicked Disc
Associated acts American Hi-Fi, Veruca Salt
Website http://www.letterstocleo.net/
Past members Kay Hanley
Greg McKenna
Michael Eisenstein
Stacy Jones
Scott Riebling
Tom Polce
Jason Sutter

Letters to Cleo are an alternative rock band from Boston, Massachusetts, best known for the 1994 single, "Here & Now", from their full-length debut album, Aurora Gory Alice. The band's members were Kay Hanley, Greg McKenna, Michael Eisenstein, Stacy Jones, Scott Riebling, and later, Tom Polce.

The group disbanded in 2000 but reunited for a small tour in 2008.[1] As of early 2016, the members of the band have announced via social media that they are back in the studio working on a new Letters To Cleo EP, with supporting shows in the fall.[2]

Band history[edit]

Guitarist Greg McKenna and singer Kay Hanley formed the band Letters to Cleo in 1990. The band was initially called Rebecca Lula but did not have fixed members, except for McKenna and Hanley. In its early phase, the band enlisted various guest players, including a brief period with Abe Laboriel, Jr. as drummer in 1993. The band's definitive lineup of Hanley, McKenna, Michael Eisenstein on guitar, Stacy Jones on drums and Scott Riebling on bass, was established in 1994. The name "Letters to Cleo" is a reference to Hanley's childhood pen pal. Hanley recounts that her "letters to Cleo" were often returned. She rediscovered a box of these letters during the band-naming process, and the band adopted the name.[citation needed]

Letters to Cleo played gigs in several Boston clubs, including T.T. the Bear's Place and The Rathskellar. They released their first full-length album, Aurora Gory Alice, on CherryDisc Records in 1993. The album received extensive airplay around the New England region and after a much hyped show at South by Southwest in Austin, Letters to Cleo signed a major label record deal with Giant Records, a Warner Brothers subsidiary, and Aurora Gory Alice was re-released worldwide.

The band had their first big hit single with "Here & Now" which gained greater exposure as part of the Melrose Place soundtrack. The song reached No. 10 on the Billboard Modern Rock Singles chart.

In 1995, Letters to Cleo released a follow-up album, Wholesale Meats and Fish. Its release was followed by extensive tours with Our Lady Peace, Sponge, Ned's Atomic Dustbin and others. The single "Awake" achieved moderate rotation on alternative radio. The band also recorded a cover of The Cars song "Dangerous Type" for the major motion picture The Craft.

In 1997, Stacy Jones left the band to join Veruca Salt and was replaced by Tom Polce. That same year, the band released their third album Go!. After a short tour, Polce left the band and was replaced by drummer Jason Sutter. In late 1997, Letters to Cleo parted ways with their record label Giant/Revolution.

1998 saw the release of some early demos and B-sides in the form of the Sister album released originally by Wicked Disc.

Letters to Cleo appeared in the 1999 film 10 Things I Hate about You as a favorite band of the character portrayed by Julia Stiles. They contributed four songs to the soundtrack for the film, which included a Cheap Trick cover ("I Want You to Want Me"), and a Nick Lowe & Ian Gomm cover ("Cruel to Be Kind"). Also included were two original tracks, "Come On", and the beginning of "Co-Pilot" (which can be heard at the end of the scene of their performance at a local club). Whereas the covers appeared on the film's soundtrack, "Come On" was released as an MP3 download on the band's website. "Co-Pilot" was also not on the film's soundtrack, but it appeared on Letters To Cleo's album Go!. In the closing credits, they were mistakenly credited as Letter to Cleo.

During that same year, the band opened for Cheap Trick at The Paradise Club in Boston. The band then recorded 13 new original songs for the Kids' WB cartoon, Generation O!, which aired from 2000 to 2001.

The band played its last show on May 4, 2000, a benefit for their friend and longtime local supporter, Mikey D.[3] They announced their disbandment the following month.[3]

Reunion[edit]

In December 2007, an impromptu reunion occurred when four of the original band members appeared at a benefit for longtime supporter Jeanne Connolly, at TT the Bears Place in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The members reunited officially for a series of shows a year later in Los Angeles, Boston and New York City. More dates followed in 2009 with shows in New Orleans, Dallas, Houston, and Austin. Bassist Scott Reibling did not participate in these shows but gave his blessing. Longtime friend of the band Joe Klompus replaced Reibling.

As of July 2009, the band members returned to their own projects.

In the Parks and Recreation Season 4 episode entitled "The Comeback Kid", the character Ben Wyatt is seen wearing a Letters to Cleo shirt.[4] This resulted in Letters to Cleo to be a trending topic on Twitter.[5] The band reunited to play a fictional concert on the sixth season finale of Parks and Recreation.[6]

Letters to Cleo was reported to be back together and recording new music in February, 2016. [7][8] The band's Facebook and Twitter feeds have been active with status updates, pictures and videos of ongoing recording.[9][10]

The band set tour dates for October/November 2016 in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, and Boston.

Solo careers[edit]

Most of the band members are now involved in solo careers. Most notable is Kay Hanley's career, which produced the albums Cherry Marmalade in 2002, The Babydoll EP in 2004, and Weaponize in 2008. In 2010, she formed the band Palmdale with producer Linus of Hollywood (Kevin Dotson). She provided playback vocals for Rachael Leigh Cook in the 2001 film Josie and the Pussycats. Hanley has also been involved with Disney on several children's projects, including the Disney Channel's My Friends Tigger and Pooh, as well as provided vocals for the new Strawberry Shortcake.[clarification needed]

Michael Eisenstein has been performing session and touring work for many artists including Our Lady Peace and Lisa Loeb. He is currently producing and engineering.

Hanley and Eisenstein married in the late '90s and have two children. They reside in Los Angeles.

Drummer Stacy Jones went on to form American Hi-Fi with fellow Boston musicians Drew Parsons, Jamie Arentzen and Brian Nolan. In addition to being the musical director and drummer for Miley Cyrus, Jones is also the musical director for Life of Dillon. Previous gigs also include playing drums for Matchbox Twenty, Madonna, Dia Frampton, Veruca Salt, Avril Lavigne, Ariana Grande, Joan Jett, Against Me!, The Jonas Brothers, The Flaming Lips, Lily Allen, Billy Ray Cyrus, Sheryl Crow, Cobra Starship, Aimee Mann, The Cab, Hey Monday, Butch Walker, and more.

Scott Riebling went into the production side of music and is now a well regarded producer and engineer and has produced work for The Von Bondies, Cobra Starship and Fall Out Boy. Riebling resides in Massachusetts.

Co-founding member Greg McKenna is currently playing live with his new band, City Rivals. They are currently in the studio recording the debut EP with producer Bleu. McKenna resides in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

Tom Polce played with several prominent Boston based bands and is now a producer and engineer. He lives in California.

Band members[edit]

Former members[edit]

  • Tom Polce – drums (1997)
  • Jason Sutter – drums (1997–2000)
  • Scott Riebling – bass, backing vocals (1994–2000)
  • Kay Hanley – lead vocals, guitar (1990–2000, 2008–2009, 2014, 2016)
  • Greg McKenna – guitar, backing vocals (1990–2000, 2008–2009, 2014, 2016)
  • Michael Eisenstein – guitar, keyboards, backing vocals (1992–2000, 2008–2009, 2014, 2016)
  • Stacy Jones – drums (1994–1997, 2008–2009, 2014, 2016)
Touring Members
  • Joe Klompus – bass (2008–2009, 2016)

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Year Title Billboard 200[11] Heatseekers
1990 Letters to Cleo (EP) - -
1993 Aurora Gory Alice 123 3
1995 Wholesale Meats and Fish 188 11
1997 Go! - 45

Other albums[edit]

Year Title Billboard 200[12] Heatseekers
1998 Sister - -
2008 When Did We Do That? - -
2009 From Boston Massachusetts - -

Singles[edit]

Year Song Chart positions[13] Album
Modern Rock Tracks Billboard Hot 100 Hot 100 Airplay Hot 100 Singles Sales Top 40 Mainstream
1992 "Here & Now"/"Rim Shack" - - - - - Aurora Gory Alice
1995 "Here & Now"/"Big Star" 10 56 72 69 40
"Awake"/"Acid Jed" 17 88 - - - Wholesale Meats and Fish
1996 "Dangerous Type" - - - - - The Craft OST
1997 "Anchor"/"Never Tell" - - - - - Go!
1999 "I Want You to Want Me"/"Cruel to Be Kind" - - - - - 10 Things I Hate About You OST

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]