’90s Grunge Bands: Where Are They Now?


We’ve been pretty wrapped up in ’90s nostalgia lately. But here at Flavorpill, we’re not just about TV. In fact, if you really want to know, our heart truly and unironically belongs to the music of the early ’90s: grunge. Everyone knows that Pearl Jam are still selling out stadiums, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains have recently reunited, Mudhoney are doing a Superfuzz Bigmuff victory lap, Stone Temple Pilots are still… doing whatever it is that they do, and Hole/Courtney Love is knee-deep in comeback/Twitter. And, of course, we all remember how things ended for Nirvana and Blind Melon. But what ever happened to Screaming Trees post-“Nearly Lost You” or Toadies post-“Possum Kingdom”? How about the ladies of 7 Year Bitch, Babes in Toyland, and L7? We even checked in on radio-friendly unit shifters like Silverchair and Collective Soul. Listen to their best-known songs and get an update on their whereabouts after the jump.

Screaming Trees The song you remember them by: “Nearly Lost You” (1992)

Where are they now? Screaming Trees did record one album after their 1992 breakthrough, Sweet Oblivion. But despite decent reviews, Dust (1996) came after the grunge moment had passed, and its sales were disappointing. The band didn’t break up until 2000, after performing at a concert for the debut of Seattle’s Experience Music Project. By then, lead singer Mark Lanegan was already four albums into a solo career. He’s also frequently guested on Queens of the Stone Age and Twilight Singers albums (that band, by the way, was founded by Afghan Whig Greg Dulli) and collaborated with Soulsavers on 2006’s It’s Not How Far You Fall, It’s the Way You Land and 2009’s Broken. But perhaps the biggest Lanegan news in the past half-decade has been his and Belle & Sebastian alum Isobell Campbell’s enchanting 2007 full-length Ballad of the Broken Seas, its 2008 followup Sunday at Devil Dirt, and another Lanegan/Dulli project, The Gutter Twins, whose debut Saturnalia appeared in 2008. (A third Lanegan/Campbell album, Hawk, is due out later this summer.)

As for Screaming Trees members who aren’t Lanegan, lead guitarist Gary Lee Conner has supposedly been working on a project called Amanita Caterpillar since 2004… but we can’t find it on Allmusic, and it doesn’t look like they’ve released much of anything. (Their MySpace page is also down.) Conner does have a MySpace page that led us to Microdot Gnome, a psychedelic solo project with a trippy song called “Confessions of the White Rabbit.” He lives in Texas with his wife and daughter and, according to Wikipedia, is a “newspaper courier.”

Van Conner, Gary Lee’s brother and Screaming Trees’ bassist, has sat in with Dinosaur Jr. and Queens of the Stone Age. He, too, has a MySpace page. Van is now in a pretty bizarre metal band called Valis, which you can listen to at MySpace. Back in January, he recorded this loopy, atmospheric song and made the video for it, all in five hours.

Barrett Martin, the drummer who joined the group after original Mark Pickerel left in 1992, has been the most prolific. As a session musician, he played with everyone from Luna to Air to R.E.M. He’s also traveled around the world, studying indigenous drummers from South America to Africa. But perhaps the biggest news is that Martin is now a Zen monk who creates music and visual art inspired by his beliefs. He also recently became part of the rock band Big High.

7 Year Bitch The song you remember them by: “Hip Like Junk” (1994)

Where are they now? 7 Year Bitch endured more than their fair share of tragedy: In 1992, their original guitarist Stefanie Sargent died of a drug overdose. The next year, their friend Mia Zapata of The Gits was raped an murdered. Somehow, despite that, the band managed to release three great albums during its seven-year run.

After the band broke up in 1997, when members moved to different parts of the country, frontwoman Selene Vigil started Cistine, a goth/psychedelic band that must be defunct and may never have released an album, because we can’t find out anything about it. In 2005, she married her boyfriend of ten years, Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave. The couple has two sons, Luka and Max. Bassist Elizabeth Davis hooked up with sci-fi-flavored Clone for a while before forming Von Iva, whose fusion of soul and punk reminds us a bit of Gossip and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Watch the video for their song “LALA” here. According to Wikipedia, Davis (now Davis-Simpson) is no longer part of the band but is married with a son named Thor. In an undated but clearly semi-recent (as in, within the last five years) interview with Popular 1, drummer Valerie Agnew mentioned that she was doing double duty in the produce department at a worker-owned grocery and as a massage therapist. Agnew added, “Elizabeth is also a massage therapist. And Selene is a Pilates teacher. So we all went from rock-n-roll lifestyle to a super-healthy lifestyle.” At the time of the interview, Roisin Dunne, the guitarist who replaced Sargent, was married and living in New York.

UPDATE: About 10 minutes after we published this post, Selene Vigil-Wilk’s publicist sent around an announcement that the former 7 Year Bitch frontwoman is prepping a solo album. That Was Then will come out September 14 via Tuck and Roll. A video preview of her new material is at her brand spanking new MySpace page. Consider our minds blown.

Candlebox The song you remember them by: “Far Behind”

Where are they now? Rejected by some grunge purists as too lightweight or derivative, Candlebox still qualifies for the list in our book. The band broke up in 2000 but reunited in 2006 in honor of that year’s Best of Candlebox album. As you may or may not know, the group now consists of three original members Kevin Martin, Peter Klett, and Scott Mercado) and two newcomers (Adam Kury and Sean Hennesy). They released an album of new material, Into the Sun, in 2008. You can listen to some of the new stuff here and check them out over the summer, as they tour motorcycle rallies and other such events. Meanwhile, Klett and Mercado also have a band called Lotus Crush. Hennesy and Martin are among the members of hard-rockin’ The Gracious Few, along with some guys who were also in… Live?! Nineties alternative overload!

The Fluid That song you remember them by: “Candy” (which appeared on a split Sub Pop 7” with Nirvana’s Vaselines cover “Molly’s Lips”)

Where are they now? This band formed in 1984, stayed mostly underground, and released most of its albums before grunge exploded in the early ’90s. They did reunited in 2008, though, to perform at Sub Pop’s 20th anniversary celebration. At that time, Denver’s Westword spoke with each and every one of the band members. For a few years post-Fluid, frontman John Robinson played in a band called New United Monster Show, which never got it together to release a proper album. Since then, he’s been out of the music business. “I’ve been a freelance set designer,” he told the paper. “I do a bit of creative direction and set design, prop styling, that kind of thing. I work mostly in still-photography advertising. I’ve been fairly lucky with that stuff, too.” In late 2009, they opened for the Pixies in Denver.

As for the other guys, Garrett Shavlik went on to be part of the bands Alta May and Spell. He is now singing for The Press Corps, a group that also includes members of Green River, Mother Love Bone, and Mudhoney and definitely retains the ’90s alternative feel. Bassist Matt Bischoff also played in local Denver bands (Boss 302 and ’57 Lesbian) after The Fluid split. These days, he has a “real job” and isn’t doing much music making. Guitarist James Clower dabbled in music post-Fluid, but, as of 2008, was back in school studying mechanical engineering. And other guitarist Rick Kulwicki had some kids, who now have their own band… called The Purple Fluid.

Babes in Toyland The song you remember them by: “He’s My Thing” (1990)

Where are they now? Babes in Toyland’s breakup was painful and protracted, beginning sometime in the mid-’90s and finishing when frontwoman Kat Bjelland’s band mates bassist Maureen Herman and drummer Lori Barbero threatened legal action when they found out she was touring as Babes in Toyland without them. By then, Bjelland had already formed Katastrophy Wife with then-husband Glenn Matson. They recorded two albums, 2001’s Amusia and 2004’s All Kneel. In that time, the band expanded and contracted, as Bjelland found a new beaux, Adrian Johnson, who took Matson’s spot. There was supposed to be a third full-length (Pregnant) in the works, slated for a 2008 release, but Katastrophy Wife missed that deadline and has now been silent for over a year. Oh, and when former pal Courtney Love asked Bjelland (with whom she co-created the famous “kinderwhore” look) in 2002 to join her new band Bastard (which, as you might imagine, never really happened), the Babes in Toyland singer flat-out refused.

As for Herman, she became a journalist, writing for Rolling Stone and working as an editor as Musician. She also did some artist management and worked for the defunct start-up Fuzz. These days, she is Executive Director of the Project Noise Foundation. Supposedly, she’s writing a book about her life in music.

Drummer Lori Barbero played in Eggtwist and Koalas, but she too turned to the business side of music as co-owner of Spanish Fly Records, which is no longer in business. Unfortunately, in 2008, she was faced with DUI charges. PopMatters checked in with her at SXSW 2009; the resulting noisy-as-hell interview video will only be tolerable to big fans. The short version: she’s still pals with everyone from Babes in Toyland but Bjelland. And in late 2008, she moved from Minneapolis to Austin, TX, where she was working with SXSW and still settling in to her new life.

Collective Soul The song you remember them by: “Shine” (1994)

Where are they now? There is some debate as to whether Collective Soul is grunge or “post-grunge,” a genre we would like to ignore. As for us, the flannel and long hair and deep-voiced emoting in the video above satisfies our definition. In any case! Did you realize that Collective Soul is still around, featuring three of its original members (Ed Roland, Dean Roland, and Will Turpin)? Between 2002 and 2004, they took a hiatus. But the group just released an album, Collective Soul (Rabbit), last year via Roadrunner Records. Now, before you start looking down your indie-snob nose, know that the record debuted at #24 on Billboard’s Hot 100! Listen to new tracks at the band’s MySpace and watch the video for “Staring Down” at YouTube.

How about the former band members? Ex-lead guitarist Ross Childress can now be found helming the considerably poppier Starfish and Coffee. As for founding drummer Shane Evans, all we can find is a MySpace blog post claiming he was arrested in 2008 in connection with a deadly car accident. But it seems suspicious that we can’t locate any more news coverage about the crash. Can anyone confirm or deny?

The Toadies That song you remember them by: “Possum Kingdom” (1994) No really, you know this song. You probably just forgot its name. It’s the one with this chorus: “Make up your mind/And I’ll promise you/I will treat you well/My sweet angel/So help me, Jesus.”

Where are they now? Toadies are also still around! We are irrationally happy about this! The band had broken up back in 2001, when original bassist Lisa Umbarger left. In 2006, the band began playing a few shows without Umbarger, and in 2008 they officially reunited. The full-length No Deliverance appeared that August. You can listen to the biting title track here . And earlier this month, Toadies posted a YouTube video announcing that they will release a re-recorded version of Feeler, an album Interscope refused to release back in 1998. You can keep up to date with them via their website, where they’ve informed fans that they’re planning to put out more new material as early as next year. If you’d like to see them live, they’ll be touring the western U.S. in July.

As for Umbarger, she hasn’t quite vanished. Here’s her MySpace page! It seems that her most recent project is a synthy band called Tile, which you can listen to here.

Silverchair That song you remember them by: “Tomorrow” (1994)

Where are they now? If you were a true grunge fan, in the indie Sub Pop Seattle sense, you were probably too cool for this band of teenage Aussies. And yet, if you were a suburban pre-teen who wasn’t buying what Hanson was selling, you were probably all over Silverchair. (Or maybe we’re just projecting?) Personally, we followed them to 1997’s Freak Show (“Come on, abuse me more, I like it”) and glimpsed manorexia anthem “Ana’s Song (Open Fire),” from 1999’s Neon Ballroom, on MTV. But what happened after that?

But it looks like we quit just when things started to get interesting. In 2002, Silverchair released Diorama, which shed the trappings of late grunge in favor of orchestral arrangements and collaborations with Van Dyke Parks. Check out the video for “Greatest View” here. The band then went on hiatus for a few years, when lead singer Daniel Johns spent some time on wife Natalie Imbruglia’s 2005 album Counting Down the Days. (They’ve since split.) Also during that time, Johns teamed up with musician and producer Paul Mac to release some material as The Dissociatives.

By 2005, Silverchair was back together. Two years later, Young Moder appeared to mixed reviews. The original trio is currently at work on an as yet untitled new album. In April, they took to their website to update fans: “While our album is still in it’s early stages, the demos are coming together well. We are really excited with the sounds emerging from the studio and everyday is a new surprise.”

L7 The song you remember them by: “Pretend We’re Dead” (1992)

Where are they now? Before there were riot grrrls, there was L7. They were smart and political and looked awesome and, frankly, we wanted to be them. The band lasted until about the turn of the millennium, a few years after the release of 1999’s Slap-Happy, when they went on an “indefinite hiatus.” But don’t worry: You can still satisfy your Donita Sparks girl-crush: Her new band is called Donita Sparks and the Stellar Moments. Sparks experts can test their knowledge here to earn a free copy of the group’s most recent album, 2008’s Transmiticate . You can also listen to some Stellar Moments tracks at their MySpace. Those who adored Sparks’ politics (she was a co-founder of Rock for Choice) will be happy to learn she used to blog for FireDogLake — but the most recent entries are about two years old.

All we know about what’s become of L7 guitarist Suzi Gardner is that in 2000, Cynthia Plaster Caster casted her boobs. And that’s good enough for us. Drummer Demetra Plakas is similarly hard to track down. But Jennifer Finch, the bassist who left the band back in 1996, has been in a slew of bands, from OtherStarPeople (remember “The Half of You I Love”?) to The Shocker.