Tripping Daisy

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Tripping Daisy

Rock group

In the middle of the '90s grunge era, all the major record labels were looking for the next alternative act á la Nirvana. Dallas, Texas, rock group Tripping Daisy were just one of the mid-90s bands who got signed to a big record deal and hoped to become the next big thing in alternative music. After signing to Island Records, Tripping Daisy had a hit on their hands with the quirky song "I Got a Girl" in 1995. The band's psychedelic-tinged alternative pop-rock had just touches of the '90s angst, but with an ironic and whimsical sensibility akin to The Flaming Lips. The Texas band's live shows often included films or special effects arousing eager participation from their fans. After leaving Island in 1999, the group lost a member to a drug overdose and effectively ended Tripping Daisy that year.

Formed in 1991 in Dallas, Texas, almost as soon as they started, Tripping Daisy was a local favorite. Singer/guitarist Tim DeLaughter, guitarist Wes Berggren, bassist Mark Pirro, and drummer Bryan Wakeland had their first taste of regional popularity when their song "Lost and Found" was put into rotation at Dallas radio station KDGE. The group's fan base took off after Dragon Street Records issued Tripping Daisy's debut album, Bill, in 1992. Major label reps had already been scouring Texas and soon Tripping Daisy signed a deal with Island Records. The label re-released Bill (with bonus tracks) less than a year after its initial release, doubling the album's sales.

Before recording the band's next album, drummer Wakeland left the group, with Mitch Marine replacing him. The fresh quartet released the buzzed-about record I Am an Elastic Firecracker in 1995. The edgy single "I Got a Girl" was instantly all over the radio and MTV, propelling sales to over 300,000. After a successful tour to support their new album, the band took time off before they embarked on a 57-city tour opening for '80s rock band Def Leppard in 1996. The exhausting tour caused enough friction in the band that they were forced to take time off for a while. "We were almost finished as a band," DeLaughtertold Weekly Wire. "We were on the road for 6 1/2 years, constantly grinding, and before we knew it we were tapped. But some forces stronger than us were saying, 'No, it can't happen. Cope.' We took time off, regrouped and it made all the difference in the world."

Not only did they take some much needed time apart, but the group's lineup was changed again when additional guitarist/trumpeter Philip Karnats joined and Marine was replaced by new drummer Ben Curtis. For two months in the winter of 1997, the restructured band recorded in an old church-turned-recording studio near Woodstock, New York. Sonically expanded, more melodic and intimate, the band's new recordings showed a maturity in Tripping Daisy. Unlike with the making of I Am an Elastic Firecracker, record label executives weren't breathing down the band's neck, allowing them more freedom this time around. "We had really been stifled by big business," DeLaughter told Anni Layne of Rolling Stone. "Our label was going through some changes of their own at the time, which took their focus off us while we made the record. We basically had the opportunity to do exactly what we wanted to do without any interruptions. It was the most fun we have ever had making a record." The songwriter also confessed that his songwriting palette had grown and matured since their first Island album; "It's something you just grow into through time and experiences. I found myself writing more about self-worth and the possibilities of human progression."

In July of 1998, Island released Tripping Daisy's third album, Jesus Hits Like an Atom Bomb. All Music Guide's Stephen Thomas Erlewine called the CD "an impressive record that balances punk-pop with art-rock. It's a smart, ambitious and successful album…." Although ultimately dissatisfied with Island's lack of support behind the album, DeLaughter used the outlet to stay as true to his art as possible. "I'm taking advantage of having the privilege to be able to play music, to be able to reach people," he told Marie Elsie St. Leger of Rolling Stone. "I'm giving them something that's from the heart, from the soul, that I consider is real, American music."

After Jesus Hits Like an Atom Bomb failed to bring in the kind of numbers Island needed, the band and label parted ways. Tripping Daisy started up their own label, Good Records, to release future albums by their band as well as other artists. "You have to become what you despise to be able to have something to talk about," DeLaughter told St. Leger of the early days on Island. "I became what I despised; I was part of that marketing scheme. I realized that it wasn't about that. I kind of got back to where I got started in the first place." The band regrouped to record a self-titled album to be issued on their new label. Before its release, on October 27, 1999, founding guitarist Berggren was found dead in his home of an accidental overdose of drugs. The remaining band members announced that with the end of Berggren's life, it would also be the end of Tripping Daisy.

In 2000, Good Records posthumously released Tripping Daisy's self-titled and final album. Dallas Observer's Shannon Sutlief called the record "the exclamation point on a career of catchy melodies, hallucinogenic anthems, and shows filled with paper airplanes and bubble machines." Tripping Daisy displayed DeLaughter's transition into a grandeur style that explored bountiful harmonies and orchestral arrangements; a method that would come tenfold with DeLaughter's post-Tripping Daisy band, The Polyphonic Spree. Formed with DeLaughter, bassist Pirro, former Tripping Daisy drummer Wakeland, and around two dozen singers and instrumentalists all wearing gospel-style robes, The Polyphonic Spree released their debut album, The Beginning Stages of … on Good Records in 2002. In the wake of his former band, DeLaughter's ostentatious new band actually became more fashionable and popular than Tripping Daisy ever was. Other Tripping Daisy members continued making music, including drummer Curtis who formed The Secret Machines and Karnats who released the solo album Pleasesuite in 2006.

Selected discography

Bill, Dragon Street Records, 1992; reissued, Island Records, 1993.
I Am an Elastic Firecracker, Island, 1995.
Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb, Island, 1998.
Tripping Daisy, Sugar Fix Recordings/Good Records, 2000.

For the Record …

Members include Wes Berggren, guitar; Ben Curtis (1997–99), drums; Tim DeLaughter, lead vocals, guitar; Philip Karnats (joined 1997), guitar; Mitch Marine (1995–97), drums; Mark Pirro, bass; Bryan Wakeland (1991–95), drums.

Group formed in 1991 in Dallas, Texas; released Bill, Dragon Street Records, 1992; reissued, Island, 1993; released I Am an Elastic Firecracker, Island, 1995; Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb, Island, 1998; left Island Records; guitarist Wes Berggren passed away, 1999; disbanded, 1999; released Tripping Daisy, Good Records, 2000.

Addresses: Record company—Good Records, P.O. Box 140948, Dallas, TX 75214, website: Website—Tripping Daisy Official Website:



Billboard, September 9, 1995.

Dallas Observer, April 2000.


"Tripping Daisy," All Music Guide, (November 13, 2006).

"Tripping Daisy," Good Records Official Website, (November 13, 2006).

"Tripping Daisy," Weekly Wire, (November 13, 2006).

"Tripping Daisy Finds a New Attitude," Rolling Stone, (November 13, 2006).

"Tripping Daisy Hits Like an Atom Bomb," Rolling Stone, (November 13, 2006).

"Tripping Daisy Guitarist's Death Ruled OD,", (November 13, 2006).