Break Up Your Band

A blog about cataloguing and dissecting the best music of the 1990s (mostly).

John Frusciante is a writer/performer living in NYC. His writing about music and comedy has appeared on AmplifierMagazine.com, The Onion News Network, Cracked.com, etc. He can frequently be seen at the UCB Theatre, where he is the Artistic Associate. He has the same name as--but is not the same person as--the guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The Break Up Your Band Podcast Returns!

Episode #6 of the Break Up Your Band Podcast is now available on iTunes. After a hiatus of who knows how many months I was reminded by a small child I visited in a hospital that my taste in music is too important not to be shared with the world. Thank you little boy, wherever you are.

This week’s podcast features great music from Paws, Pinback, Purity Ring, as well as bands whose names don’t start with the letter P.

Tool

—The Grudge

Tool - “The Grudge”
Lateralus, 2001

As of today, I have officially been sober for ten years. This album came out before I had that last drink—the remains of a half-full bottle of beer in a Pennsylvania hotel room at six o’clock in the morning—and finally rolled the listing ship of my life, but in those early months of floating in wreckage and trying to figure out where shore was I spent a lot of time listening to this album (usually while driving to work and crying which is fun to try to hide at red lights) and feeling like I was really hearing it for the first time. The messages of destructive grudges, torn relationships, the hopeful wonder and rebirth of the title track, felt clear to me for the first time and were one of the few things that made me feel comfortable and optimistic in what I can say without a doubt were some of the worst days of my life and hopefully you can’t identify with that but if you can you know what I mean.

In ten years my life has become more amazing and rewarding than I ever could’ve dreamed and certainly better than what I was planning it to be when I was hugging a bottle of Jack Daniels night after night. Today I’m way more pleasant to be around, I’m a nicer person, things aren’t such a huge catastrophe anymore (except for last week when I shattered my iPhone screen by dropping the phone but let’s forget that happened and how upset I got over okay?) and even when life is a shoebox full of dog shit it’s better than it was back then and I am certainly better at handling it than I was back then.

Everyone gets angry, everyone gets jealous, everyone feels resentments towards people. And many people choose to have some drinks or take some drugs to ease their way through those feelings. But not everyone has the compulsion to continue drinking until they wake up from a blackout pissing in their laundry basket like I have. And in the past ten years I am proud to say I have pissed in exactly zero laundry baskets.

So every year on this day I listen to this album and remember what it was like and how great it’s been since, and that the reason we keep coming back to the music we love is because like any great friend it eases us through the bad times and celebrates the good times along with us. Our lives are filled with benchmark records and songs that we keep going back to so we can reconnect.

This is the most honest blog post I’ve written ever, and it’s terrifying. I absolutely do not talk publicly about the things I’ve talked about here and it makes me uncomfortable to do so. But so let me say that if you are experiencing similar things good for you and keep going, and if you are struggling with any kind of addiction, even if that addiction is that you just can’t tear yourself away from this blog, you’re not alone and there are a billion different ways to find help even if it’s just talking to a friend and saying you need help. I’ve found that one simple action of opening up to a friend to be the most powerful tool I’ve learned in ten years. Hell, send a friend a text message if you’re uncomfortable talking out loud. Just, you know, you’ll be okay. We’ll all be okay. One of the goals of life is to go from one end of the day to the other without maliciously hurting ourselves or someone else. If you can do that, give yourself a lollipop. A hilarious thing that many of us love to do to ourselves is play that game where we say, “No one likes or cares about me” and come on now we all know that’s bullshit. More people like us than we think.

You don’t have to to piss in anyone’s laundry basket today. Take that away from this if nothing else.

Official video for indie rock one-hitter Gren’s 1995 groovy quiet-loud-quiet single “She Shines”. One of those, “Hey take a camera while you’re out on the road and make a video” situations.

I was just reading an article about a guy in NYC who digs through the cracks in the sidewalks of the jewelry district for little bits of diamonds and jewels that get dropped along the way. If the 90s are those sidewalk cracks, this is one of the jewels.

Special note from the liner notes of the new, and incredible, SWANS album The Seer.

please do not upload this music on the the internet. this music is the product of work, sweat, blood, and love. treating it like a handful of sand thrown in the air devalues the work, and makes it increasingly impossible to continue making the music. think about it, then: don’t to it!

An important message, brought to you by someone who is currently downloading a torrent of the 1984 comedy "Johnny Dangerously".

Special note from the liner notes of the new, and incredible, SWANS album The Seer.

please do not upload this music on the the internet. this music is the product of work, sweat, blood, and love. treating it like a handful of sand thrown in the air devalues the work, and makes it increasingly impossible to continue making the music. think about it, then: don’t to it!

An important message, brought to you by someone who is currently downloading a torrent of the 1984 comedy "Johnny Dangerously".

Here’s STP playing “Wicked Garden” on Letterman in 1993, their first major television appearance. Meanwhile I was listening to this album every single day, breaking one cassette and then buying another copy. And then also I was planning what would become a disastrous attempt to dress up as Weiland for Halloween that involved me buying very cheap red hair spray that did not show up at all on my dark brown hair and ran down my face because it rained on that Halloween. Sex with girls was far, far away.

Never forget that Sugar Ray made a good song once.

Now for you to enjoy Pennsylvania’s favorite sons The Ocean Blue performing “Sublime” on The Conan O’Brien Late Night Comedy Programme in the year of our lord 1993. The Ocean Blue are a band that is familiar with the construction and performance of musical compositions and have frequently demonstrated these skills to the great benefit of those fortunate enough to hear them.

Polvo - “Lazy Comet”
Today’s Active Lifestyles, 1993

Chapel Hill noise rock kings Polvo are the perfect start to your morning, afternoon, and evening.

(Source: Spotify)

Sponge - “Wax Ecstatic (To Sell Angelina)”
Wax Ecstatic, 1996

I don’t care what anybody says about the first Sponge album, Rotting Pinata, I love it. It gets a hard time from some critics and music fans—read the especially condescending review on AllMusic—but I don’t go in for any of that. It’s a punchy and powerful record of mid-90s grunge rock with some especially powerful hooks. These guys knew what they were doing on that record and they knew how to write songs.

How the band that made Rotting Pinata got from that album to this piece of garbage follow up is beyond me. Drugs, and some tragically low-quality drugs at that, is the only explanation I can come up with. And by low-quality I don’t mean the effects were weak I mean they were cut with baking soda that expired a year before it was pulled from the back of the fridge. “Wax Ecstatic” is a catchy tune but it is a far cry from anything they were doing on their first album and this is the only salvageable track from the record.

Things only got worse from here, people. Have you listened to any Sponge albums since this one? Don’t. I know I’m really putting a cramp in everyone’s day by telling you to not listen to Sponge albums, but it’s for the best. My sincere apologies go out to the hundreds of you that I’m certain were in the midst of firing up Spotify with anxious anticipation of finally digging into 2003’s For All The Drugs In The World but you will thank me in the long run. Go listen to New Miserable Experience instead, it’s twenty years old now.

Heading to Music Hall of Williamsburg for Braid. If you are going, look for the man who seems unable to control his own body movements and that will me be.