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American Music Club

American Music Club

Rock band

For the Record

Spent Early Years on Indie Labels

Critical Acclaim for Major-Label Debut

Eitzel Interested in Rock at an Early Age

Selected discography

Sources

The San Francisco, California-based quintet American Music Club offer their own unique brand of dirge rock and have been compared to Joy Division, the Violent Femmes, R.E.M., U2, the Clash, Elvis Costello, Leonard Cohen, and even Hank Williams at his most melancholy. The fact that the bands music is difficult to describe and often defies comparison is a tribute to its originality. They provide a mixed bag of musical offerings: some songs are underscored with a funeral beat, some feature a danceable, up-tempo pace, and still others are marked by a slight country-music twang. Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Mark Eitzel ensures that all singles are seeped in his despair-laden vocals.

American Music Club was formed by Eitzel, guitarist Vudi, and bassist Dan Pearson in 1983 in San Francisco. Playing together during the rise and fall of punk rock, the three musicians never ventured into hardcore punk; instead, they chose to adopt a softer punk sound, lyrically and plaintively accentuating angst, despair, and longing. Studio owner Tom Mallon played an important role in the early formation of the band: for their first

For the Record

Members include Mark Eitzel (born in 1959), singer, songwriter, and guitarist; Tim Mooney (joined band 1991), drums; Dan Pearson , bass guitar; and Vudi , lead guitar.

Group formed in 1983 in San Francisco, CA; released debut album, The Restless Stranger, Grifter, 1985; released major-label debut, Mercury, Reprise, 1993; performed at reopening of Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, 1994. Eitzel released solo album Songs of Love Live, Demon, 1991.

Awards: Cited in Rolling Stone critics poll for Everclear, and Eitzel named best songwriter by Rolling Stone, both 1991.

Addresses: Record company Reprise Records, 3300 Warner Boulevard, Burbank, CA 91505-4694; or 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10019-6979.

four albums, Mallon served as a mentor, producer, and, when needed, even a band member. Mallon taught Eitzel how to write music and showed the group how to strip a song down to its essence. American Music Club eventually became known for the dark humor and intelligence found in their lyrics, their eccentric musical shifts, their unexpected psychedelic riffs, and their obvious willingness to experiment.

Spent Early Years on Indie Labels

American Music Clubs first album, The Restless Stranger, was released in 1985 on the independent (indie) label Grifter. Two years later, in 1987, the band released a second album, Engine, on Grifter/Frontier, made available on compact disc (CD) through the Alias label. Engine featured Outside This Bar and Nightwatch-men, two songs that would become favorites for live performances. Spin s Jen Fleissner dubbed Engine a brilliant album, and wrote, [It] incredibly, in retrospect, got by on almost [rock musician Bruce] Spring-steenian anthems. The band ceased using keyboards for the album and chose to open Engine with a dirgelike, brooding cut. This type of opening would become a trademark for the band.

In 1988 American Music Club released California, an album that featured the singles Western Sky, Firefly, and Blue and Grey Shirt. Around this time, the band was gaining popularity in Great Britain, where in 1990 they released United Kingdom on Britains Demon Records. Eitzel subsequently went to England for solo performances and released Songs of Love Live in 1991 on Demon.

Also in 1991 American Music Club signed with Alias Records for their sixth album, Everclear, which had a more commercial sound than the bands previous records, as evidenced by the pop single Rise. Everclear was cited in a Rolling Stone critics poll, and Eitzel was named best songwriter by the magazine. In sharp contrast to its previous situation, American Music Club was soon talking to people from major labels and was made a variety of offers. Before the band made a communal decision, Eitzel spent some time recording with the San Francisco band Toiling Midgets and, as a result, ended up recruiting American Music Clubs drummer, Tim Mooney. Once Mooney was part of the band, they chose to sign with Reprise Records.

Critical Acclaim for Major-Label Debut

Mercurywas released to much critical acclaim in 1993: Rolling Stone gave the album a four-star review and hot band status. The LP was characterized as introspective, dour, and atmospheric. American Music Club began to tour the United States and frequently opened for Seattle grunge rock success Pearl Jam. In 1994 American Music Club released San Francisco, which Rolling Stones Lorraine Ali found more seamless than any of their other albums. San Franciscos appeal, perhaps, is that no two songs are similar on the album; each track is meticulously stylized and unique. Ali also wrote of San Francisco, The rhythms are delicate and sad (occasionally evoking Joy Division), then cocky and catchy, riding freely under the effects of winding bagpipes, jangly tambourines and rushing wind.

American Music Clubs lamentable sound and Eitzels flat tone requires, for some, an acquired taste. After the release of San Francisco, for example, Musician magazines Rob OConnor wrote, Eitzel might as well be the poster boy for [the anti-depression medication] Prozac. The group, however, has garnered a loyal following; in 1994 they were invited to performalong with the Neville Brothers, Joe Satriani, and Smashing Pumpkinsat the reopening of the legendary Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco.

American Music Club frontman Eitzels onstage antics are the stuff of legend and have on occasion inspired madness: He once crawled through the tables of a club, clad only in his underwear, while the band played Highway To Hell. During another performance, he angered a woman in the audience, who stormed out of the club. Eitzel then followed the woman outside to beg for her forgiveness. Giving performances reminiscent of punk rock icon Iggy Pop, Eitzel has been known to kick a bottle into the audience, to grovel on the floor, or to push someone against a wall. After once crippling himself for weeks, he decided never again to jump in the air and land on his knees.

Eitzel Interested in Rock at an Early Age

Eitzel, the son of an army man, was born in 1959 in the San Francisco suburb of Walnut Creek. At the age of seven, he moved with his family to Okinawa, Japan, then to Taiwan, then to Southampton, England. Eitzel was a quiet, studious child who took an inordinate interest in pop music. The Monkees and the Beatles were early influences for him, and by the time he was 14, he was writing songs. Punk rock interested him during his teens, and when his family moved to Ohio, the 19-yearold Eitzel wanted to join a punk band there. He eventually became a member of the Naked Skinnies, which migrated to San Francisco in 1981.

No stranger to the pain of losing a loved one, Eitzel faced the early death of both of his parents. After losing a friend to AIDS, Eitzel and American Music Club contributed the single All Your Jeans Were Too Tight to the 1993 No Alternative compilation album, whose profits are contributed directly to AIDS research. Eitzel would witness several of his friends die of AIDS, and his experiences are reflected in some of American Music Clubs singles; Western Sky, Rise, and Johnny Mathis Feet were all written for dying friends.

As an explanation for American Music Clubs style, and as an example of his own dark humor, Eitzel told Requests David Sprague, Maybe I do have a morbid bent. But its my job. I was born to be a sad crooner. I was born with no chin.

Selected discography

The Restless Stranger, Grifter, 1985.

Engine, Grifter/Frontier, 1987.

California, Grifter/Frontier, 1988.

United Kingdom, Demon, 1990.

Everclear, Alias, 1991.

Mercury, Reprise, 1993.

San Francisco, Reprise, 1994.

Eitzel released solo album Songs of Love Live, Demon, 1991.

Sources

Entertainment Weekly, October 21, 1994.

Metro Times (Detroit), March 24, 1993; October 26, 1994.

Musician, May 1993; November 1994.

Pulse!, June 1993.

Request, April 1993; October 1993.

Rolling Stone, April 15, 1993; May 13, 1993; June 16, 1994; December 1, 1994.

Spin, June 1993; October 1994.

B. Kimberly Taylor

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American Music Club

American Music Club

Rock group

The San Francisco, California-based quartet American Music Club offers their own unique brand of dirge rock and have been compared to Joy Division, the Violent Femmes, R.E.M., U2, the Clash, Elvis Costello, Leonard Cohen, and even Hank Williams at his most melancholy. The fact that the band's music is difficult to describe and often defies comparison is a tribute to its originality. They provide a mixed bag of musical offerings: some songs are underscored with a funeral beat, some feature a danceable, up-tempo pace, and still others are marked by a slight country-music twang. Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Mark Eitzel ensures that all singles are seeped in his despair-laden vocals.

American Music Club was formed by Eitzel, guitarist Vudi, and bassist Dan Pearson in 1983 in San Francisco. Playing together during the rise and fall of punk rock, the three musicians never ventured into hardcore punk; instead, they chose to adopt a softer punk sound, lyrically and plaintively accentuating angst, despair, and longing. Studio owner Tom Mallon played an important role in the early formation of the band: for their first four albums, Mallon served as a mentor, producer, and, when needed, even a band member. Mallon taught Eitzel how to write music and showed the group how to strip a song down to its essence. American Music Club eventually became known for the dark humor and intelligence found in their lyrics, their eccentric musical shifts, their unexpected psychedelic riffs, and their obvious willingness to experiment.

American Music Club's first album, The Restless Stranger, was released in 1985 on the independent label Grifter. Two years later in 1987, the band released a second album, Engine, on Grifter/Frontier, made available on compact disc through the Alias label. Engine featured "Outside This Bar" and "Nightwatchmen," two songs that would become favorites for live performances. Spin's Jen Fleissner dubbed Engine a "brilliant" album, and wrote, "[It] incredibly, in retrospect, got by on almost [rock musician Bruce] Springsteenian anthems." The band ceased using keyboards for the album and chose to open Engine with a dirge-like, brooding cut. This type of opening would become a trademark for the band.

In 1988 American Music Club released California, an album that featured the singles "Western Sky," "Firefly," and "Blue and Grey Shirt." Around this time, the band was gaining popularity in Great Britain, where in 1990 they released United Kingdom on Britain's Demon Records. Eitzel subsequently went to England for solo performances and released Songs of Love: Live in 1991 on Demon.

Also in 1991 American Music Club signed with Alias Records for their fifth album, Everclear, which had a more commercial sound than the band's previous records, as evidenced by the pop single "Rise." Everclear was cited in a Rolling Stone critics' poll, and Eitzel was named best songwriter by the magazine. In sharp contrast to its previous situation, American Music Club was soon talking to people from major labels and was made a variety of offers. Before the band made a communal decision, Eitzel spent some time recording with the San Francisco band Toiling Midgets and, as a result, ended up recruiting American Music Club's drummer, Tim Mooney. Once Mooney was part of the band, they chose to sign with Reprise Records.

Mercury was released to much critical acclaim in 1993: Rolling Stone gave the album a four-star review and "hot band" status. The LP was characterized as introspective, dour, and "atmospheric." American Music Club began to tour the United States and frequently opened for Seattle grunge rock success Pearl Jam. In 1994 American Music Club released San Francisco, which Rolling Stone's Lorraine Ali found "more seamless" than any of their other albums. San Francisco's appeal, perhaps, is that no two songs are similar on the album; each track is meticulously stylized and unique. Ali also wrote of San Francisco, "The rhythms are delicate and sad (occasionally evoking Joy Division), then cocky and catchy, riding freely under the effects of winding bagpipes, jangly tambourines and rushing wind."

American Music Club's lamentable sound and Eitzel's flat tone requires, for some, an acquired taste. After the release of San Francisco, for example, Musician magazine's Rob O'Connor wrote, "Eitzel might as well be the poster boy for [the antidepression medication] Prozac." The group, however, has garnered a loyal following; in 1994 they were invited to perform—along with the Neville Brothers, Joe Satriani, and Smashing Pumpkins—at the reopening of the legendary Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco.

Despite how many may have felt about their latest release, American Music Club had some internal conflicts that finally took its toll when the group disbanded in 1994. Eitzel told Cary Darling of the Miami Herald, "As a band, we had this horrible attitude. … With American Music Club, at least one person was quitting all the time."

For the Record …

Members include Jason Borger (joined band in 2004, left circa 2007), keyboards; Steve Didelot (joined circa 2007), drums; Mark Eitzel (born in 1959), vocals, guitar; Sean Hoffman (joined circa 2007), bass guitar; Tim Mooney (joined band 1991, left circa 2007), drums; Dan Pearson (left group circa 2007), bass guitar; Vudi , lead guitar.

Group formed in 1983 in San Francisco, CA; released debut album, The Restless Stranger, Grifter, 1985; released major-label debut, Mercury, Reprise, 1993; disbanded in 1994; reunited in 2003; released Love Songs for Patriots, 2004; The Golden Age, 2008.

Addresses: Agent—Todd Cote, Leafy Green Booking, 150 Santa Marina, San Francisco, CA 94110. Web site—American Music Club Official Web site: http://americanmusicclub.com.

Even though American Music Club was no more, each member stayed connected to the music business: Eitzel released six solo albums in a ten-year span; Pearson joined the band Clodhopper; Mooney began to produce and opened his own recording studio; and Vudi became a bus driver in Los Angeles while fronting bands Clovis de Foret and Ariel Pink. It would take ten years before Mooney would contact the others to reunite. They began recording as word spread that American Music Club was back together.

Recording and word of mouth soon led to concert dates and American Music Club headed to locations around the world to announce their return. In October of 2004, the band released Love Songs for Patriots. The group also added one new member, Jason Borger, who played the keyboards. The new release was met with positive reviews. David Peschek of London's Guardian said the record was "a scathing, literate, sometimes even funny collection of songs that stands with the band's best work."

American Music Club continued touring. During this time, Mooney, Pearson, and Borger left and were replaced by Sean Hoffman, a bass guitarist, and Steve Didelot, a drummer. In 2008 the band then released their second CD after reuniting: The Golden Age. Again American Music Club was met with critical acclaim as Clark Collis of Entertainment Weekly exclaimed that their latest was "a lush collection that ranks among their best."

American Music Club has proven that while pioneering in the emo/punk rock genre, their aim is to take fans to new heights that will transcend boundaries. The band's blending of rock, country, blues, folk, pop, and punk continue to gain new audiences while allowing the band to maintain an indie feel. Though each release has met with mostly positive reviews, sales have not been overwhelming but it has been enough to guarantee American Music Club's spot in the annals of music history.

Selected discography

The Restless Stranger, Grifter, 1985.

Engine, Grifter/Frontier, 1987.

California, Grifter/Frontier, 1988.

United Kingdom, Demon, 1990.

Everclear, Alias, 1991.

Mercury, Reprise, 1993.

San Francisco, Reprise, 1994.

Love Songs for Patriots, Merge, 2004.

The Golden Age, Merge, 2008.

Sources

Periodicals

EntertainmentWeekly, October 21, 1994; February 22, 2008.

Guardian (London), September 2, 2004.

Metro Times (Detroit), March 24, 1993; October 26, 1994.

Miami Herald, July 2, 2001.

Musician, May 1993; November 1994.

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT), February 29, 2008.

Pulse!, June 1993.

Request, April 1993; October 1993.

Rolling Stone, April 15, 1993; May 13, 1993; June 16, 1994; December 1, 1994.

San Francisco Chronicle, July 20, 2003.

Scotsman (Edinburgh, Scotland), February 5, 2005.

Spin, June 1993; October 1994.

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), January 15, 2005.

Online

American Music Club Official Web site, http://americanmusicclub.com, (June 30, 2008).

Mark Eitzel Official Web site, http://www.markeitzel.com (June 30, 2008).

—B. Kimberly Taylor and Ashyia N. Henderson

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"American Music Club." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 12 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"American Music Club." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 12, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/american-music-club-0

"American Music Club." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved December 12, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/american-music-club-0