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Throwing Muses

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Biography All Music GuideWikipedia

Group Members: Tanya Donelly, Kristin Hersh

All Music Guide:

One of the greatest college bands of the '80s, Throwing Muses was formed in 1983 by guitarist/vocalist Kristin Hersh and her half-sister guitarist/vocalist Tanya Donelly with a few friends from high school. In 1986, the group's debut album was put out by the prestigious British label 4AD; Throwing Muses was the first American band to be released on that label. Throwing Muses' angular, anguished, mercurial sound had much to do with Hersh's mental illness (she suffered from a form of bipolarity that caused her to hallucinate), especially on early albums like House Tornado. Released in 1991, The Real Ramona marked a break from the heaviness of the previous albums, with lots of shimmery pop gems penned both by Hersh and Donelly, who contributed at least one song per album throughout her stay in the band.

Creative tensions between the two songwriters rose until Donelly left in 1992 to play with the Breeders and ultimately form Belly. That year Hersh re-formed the Muses with drummer David Narcizo and released the band's fourth album, Red Heaven. After that, Hersh released a solo album and toured extensively, leaving fans to wonder about the status of the Muses. In 1995, however, Hersh and the rest of the Muses (Narcizo and bassist Bernard Georges) released University, one of the band's most cohesive and accessible efforts. University was followed by Limbo in 1996.

The group's dissolution was announced soon after, with Hersh continuing on as a solo artist. In a Doghouse, a collection of rare early Muses material, followed in 1998. In spring 2000, the Muses reunited for a special event called the Gut Pageant, which featured a set from Hersh, Narcizo, Bernard Georges, and Robert Rust, as well as a solo performance by Hersh, short films by Narcizo, and a picnic lunch hosted by the group. During three weekends in 2002, the trio got together to record another album; released the same day in 2003 as Hersh's The Grotto, Throwing Muses (self-titled, just like their debut) was the group's rawest, loudest album. Donelly provided background vocals on some of the songs. Hersh and Georges subsequently recorded and toured as two-thirds of 50 Foot Wave, and Hersh continued her solo work. In 2011, the Muses assembled Anthology, a double-disc compilation of favorites and B-sides, and toured in support of it. Two years later, Hersh reunited with Narcizo and Georges for Purgatory/Paradise, a sprawling 32-track album accompanied by a book designed by Narcizo.


For other uses, see Throwing Muses (disambiguation).

Throwing Muses is an alternative rock band formed in 1981 in Newport, Rhode Island, that toured and recorded extensively until 1997, when its members began concentrating more on other projects. The group was originally fronted by two lead singers, Kristin Hersh, and Tanya Donelly, who both wrote the group's songs. Throwing Muses are known for performing music with shifting tempos, creative chord progressions, unorthodox song structures, and surreal lyrics. The group was set apart from other contemporary acts by Hersh's stark, candid writing style; Donelly's pop stylings and vocal harmonies; and David Narcizo's unusual drumming techniques eschewing use of cymbals. Hersh's hallucinatory, febrile songs occasionally touched on the subject of mental illness, more often drawing portraits of characters from daily life or addressing relationships.


History1.1 1983–86: Formation1.2 1987–911.3 1992–97: Disbandment1.4 2003–present: Reformation


1983–86: Formation[edit]

Throwing Muses were formed in 1983 by Kristin Hersh and her stepsister Tanya Donelly, who were both attending Rogers High School. They initially called themselves "Kristin Hersh and the Muses", in which band they were accompanied by bass player Elaine Adamedes and drummer Becca Blumen who were later replaced by Leslie Langston and David Narcizo, respectively. Narcizo did not originally know how to play the drums but when Hersh told him that Becca Blumen had left the band and he could join, Narcizo said on the subject "I had never played a drum kit before – all I'd played was marching drums and concert drums. We found somebody whose kit we could borrow, but it arrived without cymbals. I learned to play on it without cymbals which then became my trademark early on." They released their debut self-titled EP in 1984 on their own Blowing Fuses label. In the same year, they released a set of demos, later known as The Doghouse Cassette, garnering a number-one college radio hit, "Sinkhole". The demos impressed Gary Smith of Fort Apache Studios and he led them to sign with 4AD, where they became the label's first American band. Kristin recalls, "I signed with them because [owner] Ivo [Watts-Russell] was funny and goofy, and that was about it." In 1986 they released their self-titled debut album produced by Gil Norton. Hersh has written the memoir Rat Girl about the year the band moved to Boston, was signed, and recorded their first album.


In 1987, they released two EPs, Chains Changed and The Fat Skier, released 6 July. In 1988, they released their second studio album, House Tornado, produced by Gary Smith and engineered by Paul Kolderie; it was recorded at Fort Apache Studios in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The album was released internationally on the 4AD label, except in the United States, where it was released by Sire Records. Sire used a different album cover for its release, as the label was putting a strong promotional push behind the band, and label executives favored a picture of the band over the collage featured on the 4AD release. Both House Tornado and the Fat Skier were combined on a single CD in a later release. The band embarked on a tour of the UK, supported by the Pixies, to support House Tornado.

In 1989, they released their third album, Hunkpapa, which was produced by Gary Smith and engineered by Steve Haigler. The album saw Hersh experimenting with more conventional melodic structures, although the fractious lyrics remained.

In 1990, bassist Leslie Langston left and was replaced by Fred Abong. Throwing Muses recorded their fourth album, The Real Ramona during the same year. Shortly after the album's release in 1991, Tanya Donelly co-founded The Breeders with Kim Deal from the Pixies as a side-project . Donelly then went on to form Belly. The Real Ramona is considered to have a more poppy sound than their previous records. The song "Counting Backwards" from the album was released a single.

1992–97: Disbandment[edit]

1992 the band made a fresh start with Bernard Georges, recording their fifth album Red Heaven. Leslie Langston also played on the album. The album was produced by Throwing Muses and Steve Boyer, and was recorded at The Power Station and Fort Apache Studios. The album featured a duet with Hüsker Dü frontman Bob Mould on the song "Dio".

In 1993, they recorded their sixth album, University. Hersh recorded her debut album, Hips and Makers, immediately after recording finished on University. Hips and Makers was released first, in 1994, which delayed the release of University until 1995. University gave the band their first national U.S. hit, "Bright Yellow Gun". The album was very favorably reviewed but it did not sell well, which resulted in them being dropped from Sire.

Throwing Muses released their seventh album, Limbo, which was followed by a tour. However, the band disbanded in 1997 as Kristin Hersh went on to continue her solo career.

2003–present: Reformation[edit]

In March 2003 Throwing Muses came back with their eighth album, Throwing Muses, which also saw the return of Tanya Donelly who provided backing vocals on the album. A greatest hits compilation titled Anthology was released in 2011. The band's ninth album, Purgatory / Paradise was released on October 29, 2013 in the UK and November 11 in the US.

In early 2014, the band toured a few U.S. cities, with Donelly opening for the East Coast dates.

^ "Throwing Muses". 4AD. Retrieved July 16, 2013. ^ "Throwing Muses – Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved July 16, 2013. ^ Freeman, John (October 24, 2011). "Counting Backwards: Throwing Muses Interviewed". The Quietus. ^ Sheffield, Rob (October 8, 2010). "Punk Days". The New York Times. ^ Phares, Heather. "The Real Ramona". Allmusic. Retrieved July 16, 2013. ^ Strauss, Neil (March 9, 1995). "My So-Called Double Life: Kristin Hersh of Throwing Muses Finds the Common Ground Between Motherhood and Rock & Roll". Rolling Stone.^ Freydkin, Donna (August 19, 1999). "Kristin Hersh Checks Into her 'Sky Motel'". CNN Interactive.^ Zolandz, Lindsay (October 24, 2013). "Video: Throwing Muses – 'Sunray Venus'". Pitchfork^ (February 28, 2014) Throwing Muses, Mark Eitzel Noise Pop 2014^ (January 20, 2014) "Throwing Muses announce handful of U.S. dates — including 2 with Tanya Donelly" Slicing Up Eyeballs


Long-term core lineupBernard Georges: bass (1992–present)Kristin Hersh: vocals, guitar (1981–present)David Narcizo: drums (1983–present)Other membersFred Abong: bass (1990–91)Elaine Adamedes: bass, vocals (1981–83)Becca Blumen: drums, vocals (1981–83)Tanya Donelly: vocals, guitar (1981–91, guest in concerts and recording 2001, 2003 and 2014)Leslie Langston: bass (1984–90, recording briefly 1992)
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eMusic Features


Interview: Throwing Muses

By Douglas Wolk, Contributor

Throwing Muses didn't break up after their 2003 self-titled album — they just kind of quit the music business. They kept touring, intermittently; singer/guitarist Kristin Hersh kept writing new songs for the band, as well as for her solo projects; she and Throwing Muses bassist Bernard Georges also started a punk trio, 50 Foot Wave. In the late 2000s, Hersh co-founded CASH Music, an organization that connects artists to their fans, which provided a way… more »

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