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Sponge

Sponge was one of the more underrated groups in the post-grunge boom of the mid-'90s. When they were on top of their game — as evidenced by the hits "Plowed" and "Molly (Sixteen Candles)" — the band's songs had a knack for jangly riffs and catchy, anthemic hard rock hooks, despite being wrapped in the fuzzy guitars and brooding seriousness that typified grunge music. Sponge grew out of a Detroit-based hard rock act called Loudhouse, which released an album on the Virgin label in 1988 before losing its record contract and disbanding shortly thereafter. Drummer-turned-vocalist Vinnie Dombrowski (born Mark Dombrowski) and guitarists Mike Cross and Joey Mazzola regrouped as Sponge in 1992, adding Mike's brother Tim Cross on bass and Jimmy Paluzzi on drums. Adapting their '70s hard rock influences to fit the grunge zeitgeist, the bandmates earned a major-label deal with Columbia and released their debut album, Rotting Pinata, in late 1994.

Initially, critics compared Sponge unfavorably to Stone Temple Pilots, but alternative radio embraced the band's first two singles: the driving rocker "Plowed" and the jangly, introspective "Molly (Sixteen Candles)." A third single, "Rainin'," also earned airplay, and Rotting Pinata went gold; meanwhile, Sponge went on tour as Live's opening act. With new drummer Charlie Grover in tow, their 1996 follow-up album, Wax Ecstatic, was a more diverse affair, rediscovering some of the band's roots in arena rock, British glam, and jangle pop. Even though singles like "Wax Ecstatic (To Sell Angelina)," "I Am Anastasia," and "Have You Seen Mary" enjoyed some degree of radio airplay, Columbia was dissatisfied with the sales figures and dropped Sponge once the album left the charts.

Undaunted, Sponge signed a new deal with the Beyond label, which released the more classicist New Pop Sunday in 1999. It attracted little commercial attention, and more personnel shifts ensued. Tired of touring, the Cross brothers both left and were replaced by guitarist Kurt Marschke and bassist Tim Krukowski; Billy Adams also came on board as the new drummer. After several years of recharging — during which time Dombrowski played in several Detroit-area side projects — Sponge returned with For All the Drugs in the World in 2003 and Man in 2005. Dombrowski reworked the lineup once again, this time adding guitarists Kyle Neely and Andy Patalan, before returning again to the studio in 2007 to record Galore Galore for Bellum Records.

Two year later, there was another lineup shift — Tim Patalan became the group's bassist — and they released an EP called Destroy the Boy. A full-length called Stop the Bleeding arrived four years later; the LP contained all of the 2009 EP plus new songs.

 

The band recruited Jimmy Paluzzi on drums to round out the lineup. Their debut album, Rotting Piñata, released in 1994, was a major hit, received heavy play on radio and MTV, and was certified gold by the RIAA. The two biggest singles from that album were "Plowed" and "Molly" but by the end of 1994 Charlie Grover replaced drummer Paluzzi. Their follow-up album was called Wax Ecstatic; the track "Have You Seen Mary" was included in the Kevin Smith film Chasing Amy.

On June 28, 1996, Sponge opened for the Kiss reunion tour. The band had been tapped a few weeks earlier to replace the Stone Temple Pilots, who had to bow out of the opening spot due to Scott Weiland's drug problems. The show was one of the last concerts held at Tiger Stadium in Detroit.

New Pop Sunday, on Beyond Records, was a departure from the grittier sound of the first two albums, featuring songs that were pop rock in nature. The band's popularity waned sharply during this period; however, "Live Here Without You" was nominated for the Outstanding National Single award by the Detroit Music Awards in 2000.

In 2001, Dombroski joined the Seattle side project Spys4Darwin, which recorded one EP and worked together into the following year. During that time, the Cross brothers and Charlie Grover left Sponge, and the remaining members (Mazzola and Dombroski) recruited drummer Billy Adams, guitarist Kurt Marschke and bassist Tim Krukowski. Sponge continued their career with For All the Drugs in the World on Idol Records in 2003.

The band stayed with their current record label. Vinnie Dombroski created a new lineup once again, this time without the other founding member Joey Mazzola. Dombroski became the only remaining original member of Sponge; although, Adams and Krukowski from the previous album stayed. The Man was released through traditional channels on Idol Records.

It was announced in November 2007 that the band would release a new album, titled Galore Galore, on their newly signed label Bellum Records. In addition, the lineup from The Man would be the same for the new album. This is the second time that the lineup stayed the same, the first time being between Wax Ecstatic and New Pop Sunday. The album was finally released on December 4, 2007 (the release date varied depending on the outlets that supplied the album). In 2009, former Sponge producer Tim Patalan replaced Krukowski on bass, and the following year the band released the EP Destroy the Boy. All of the songs from this release would round out the latest studio album by the band in 2013, Stop the Bleeding.


Sponge is a Detroit, Michigan, post-grunge band formed in 1991 by Vinnie Dombroski, Mike Cross, and Joey Mazzola — all formerly of hard-rock band Loudhouse.
Sponge was signed to Sony Records in 1993 but have since switched to other labels to record various albums.
The band's debut album, Rotting Piñata, was a major hit, received heavy play on radio and MTV, and was certified gold by the RIAA.
On June 28, 1996, Sponge was the opening act on the first night of the Kiss reunion tour.
In 2001, Dombroski joined the Seattle side project Spys4Darwin, which recorded one EP and worked together into the following year.

 

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