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A basement concert, from left to right: Munson, Wilson, and Slichter
|Origin||Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States|
|Genres||Alternative rock, post-grunge, power pop|
|Years active||1995–2001, 2017–present|
|Associated acts||Trip Shakespeare|
Semisonic is an American alternative rock band formed in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1995. The band has three members: Dan Wilson (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards), John Munson (bass guitar, keyboards, backing vocals, guitar), and Jacob Slichter (drums, percussion, keyboards, backing vocals). They are best known in the U.S. for their 1998 single "Closing Time."
Formation and debut album
After the breakup of Trip Shakespeare, Dan Wilson and John Munson joined up with drummer Jacob Slichter to form Semisonic in 1995. An EP, Pleasure, was released that year on Boston indie label CherryDisc, and the studio full-length Great Divide in 1996 on MCA.
Breakthrough and international success
Semisonic's breakthrough came two years later in 1998 when their second album, Feeling Strangely Fine, reached the Top 50 chart on the strength of the hit single "Closing Time," their biggest hit in the United States. In a 2008 performance at Harvard's Sanders Theatre, Wilson made it known that it was originally written about the birth of his first child.
Their international career also blossomed when another song from the album, "Secret Smile," quickly became a UK radio favorite in the summer of 1999, eventually peaking at No. 13 on the UK Singles Chart.
Third album and hiatus
In early 2001, the band released its third album, All About Chemistry, The single "Chemistry" was a mainstay overseas; however, the album did not fare as well in the United States. Another song, "Over My Head," was used in the 2001 teen flick Summer Catch, and Semisonic rode the wave of various tours in and around the UK.
Wilson has spoken of doing more Semisonic music in the future but said, "The busy day-to-day life keeps pushing it further into the future." All About Chemistry would their last studio release until reconvening for the You're Not Alone EP which they put out in 2020.
To commemorate the twentieth anniversary of their first album, Great Divide, the band reunited for a series of three shows in June of 2017—June 14 at a small club in St. Paul, and June 16-17 at First Avenue in Minneapolis. The band played Great Divide in its entirety.
In December of 2017, the band played three more shows in the Twin Cities to commemorate the approaching 20th anniversary of their second album, Feeling Strangely Fine, performing the album in its entirety. In 2018, Feeling Strangely Fine was given a rerelease for the album's twentieth anniversary, including its first vinyl pressing. The anniversary edition included four songs not on the original album: “Long Way from Home,” “I’m a Liar,” “Beautiful Regret,” and “Makin’ a Plan.”
In July of 2019, Semisonic performed at Summerfest in Milwaukee and then at the Basilica Block Party in Minneapolis. During their 2017-2019 shows, the band performed some new, previously unreleased songs, including “Basement Tapes,” “All It Would Take,” and “You’re Not Alone.” In July of 2020, “You’re Not Alone” was released by Pleasuresonic Recordings as the first single and title track of Semisonic’s upcoming EP release, scheduled for September 18th, 2020.
The band has been honored with a star on the outside mural of the Minneapolis nightclub First Avenue, recognizing performers that have played sold-out shows or have otherwise demonstrated a major contribution to the culture at the iconic venue. Receiving a star "might be the most prestigious public honor an artist can receive in Minneapolis," according to journalist Steve Marsh. Wilson and Munson's previous group, Trip Shakespeare, also has a star, making them among the few musicians with multiple stars on the mural.
On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Semisonic among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire. Slichter said the band had previously requested the master tapes for Feeling Strangely Fine from Universal while working on a remastered edition for the album, but were told that the tapes could not be located.
The band reunited for a series of two shows on June 14, 2017 in St. Paul and June 16, 2017 in Minneapolis for the first time in nearly five years. The St. Paul show at a smaller venue served as a live rehearsal for the Minneapolis show at famed Minneapolis club First Avenue. The band followed similar set lists for the shows, playing the album Great Divide in its entirety with a few additional songs, including a live debut of the Wilson-penned "Basement Tapes". Semisonic played together again in December 2017 with a similar combination of St. Paul and Minneapolis shows, but added a second show at First Avenue. The set list for these shows was the Feeling Strangely Fine track list with some supplemental songs including live debuts of two songs.
In 2018, Feeling Strangely Fine was given a rerelease for the album's twentieth anniversary, including its first vinyl pressing.
On June 26, 2020, Semisonic released the single "You're Not Alone", their first new material in 19 years, with an EP of the same name due for release that fall.
- One Night at First Avenue (2003)
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Certifications||Album|
|"Down in Flames"||1996||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Great Divide|
|"Closing Time"||1998||—||1||13||—||2||48||50||25||Feeling Strangely Fine|
|"Singing in My Sleep"||—||11||31||—||—||—||—||39|
|"Chemistry"||2001||—||39||—||—||—||39||21||35||All About Chemistry|
|"Get A Grip"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|"You're Not Alone"||2020||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||You're Not Alone EP|
Soundtracks and compilations
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- Semisonic performed "Sugar, Sugar" with Mary Lou Lord on the 1995 tribute album Saturday Morning: Cartoons' Greatest Hits, produced by Ralph Sall for MCA Records.
- Semisonic contributed the title song for the 1999 Kevin Costner movie For Love of the Game.
- "Over My Head", a bonus track on some editions of All About Chemistry, was used in the 2001 teen flick Summer Catch.
- "Closing Time" appeared in the 2011 movie Friends with Benefits.
- In the fall of 2001, Semisonic contributed their cover of the Wings song, "Jet", for the Paul McCartney tribute CD Listen to What the Man Said.
- Wilson with Bic Runga contributed "Good Morning Baby" to the American Pie soundtrack in 1999.
- "F.N.T." was featured in the 1996 movie The Long Kiss Goodnight and the 1999 movie 10 Things I Hate About You.
- "Closing Time" was included in an episode of The Office. It was also featured in the season finale of The Real World Seattle.
Other projects by members
Wilson took time out to do some solo projects and play tour dates around the Midwest in December. Munson joined Wilson's brother and former Trip Shakespeare frontman Matt Wilson to form a side project, The Flops, in 2001, though they were expected to make a final performance in early 2005. In 2009, John Munson and Matt Wilson reunited to form a new band The Twilight Hours. Since forming they have released an album, Stereo Night, and have been touring.
In 2004, Slichter's book So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star (ISBN 0-7679-1470-8) was published, detailing some of the experiences the group had while touring and attempting to get airplay on radio stations across the US.
On October 16, 2007, Rick Rubin's label American Recordings released Wilson's solo album, Free Life, featuring collaborations with numerous artists including Munson and Slichter. The song "Cry" was the album's single.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 488. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "The Stars". First Avenue & 7th Street Entry. Retrieved 2020-05-10.
- Bream, Jon (2019-05-03). "10 things you'll learn about First Avenue in new Minnesota History Center show". Star Tribune. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. Retrieved 2020-05-10.
- Marsh, Steve (2019-05-13). "First Avenue's Star Wall". Mpls.St.Paul Magazine. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. Retrieved 2020-05-10.
- Rosen, Jody (25 June 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
- Rettig, James (2020-06-26). "Semisonic – "You're Not Alone"". Stereogum. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
- Billboard (1998-08-08). "Hot 100 Airplay Closing Time". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Archived from the original on January 21, 2015. Retrieved 2008-10-17.
- Billboard (June 27, 1998). "Artist Chart History - Semisonic". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 2008-10-16.
- "Semisonic Top Singles positions". RPM. Retrieved 2010-06-15.
- "Semisonic Rock/Alternative positions". RPM. Retrieved 2010-06-15.
- "Discography Semisonic". Hung Medien. Retrieved March 19, 2016.
- "Discography Semisonic". Hung Medien. Retrieved March 19, 2016.
- Editors from EveryHit.com. "UK Top 40 Hit Database". EveryHit.com. Retrieved 2008-10-16.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
- "British certifications – Semisonic". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved March 19, 2016. Type Semisonic in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
- "Drummer's Book Takes Shine off Rock-Star Life". NPR. Retrieved 2015-08-25.