American Music Club
|Origin||San Francisco, California, United States|
|Genres||Indie rock, blues rock, folk rock, Americana, psychedelic rock, slowcore|
|Labels||Cooking Vinyl, Merge, Reprise, Virgin, Frontier, Grifter, Zippo, Warner Bros., Demon, Alias|
|The Cowboys, The Naked Skinnies, Toiling Midgets|
Although born in California, Eitzel spent his formative years in Okinawa (Japan), Taiwan, the United Kingdom and Ohio (United States) before returning to the Bay Area in 1981. After a brief stint with the bands The Cowboys (one single: "Supermarket"/"Teenage Life") and The Naked Skinnies (one single) he founded American Music Club in San Francisco in 1983 with guitarist Scott Alexander, drummer Greg Bonnell and bass player Brad Johnson. The band went through many personnel changes before arriving at a stable line up of guitarist Vudi, bassist Danny Pearson, keyboardist Brad Johnson and drummer Matt Norelli. This lineup would change over the next several years, but Eitzel always remained the core of the band in terms of its vocals, lyrics and thematic focus, with Vudi and Danny Pearson accompanying him on guitar and bass.
Their 1985 debut, The Restless Stranger, is widely considered as the first slowcore release, establishing the band as major pioneers of slowcore and an early influence on post-rock. It was later followed by 1987's Engine which saw record producer Tom Mallon as a full-time member.
American Music Club earned a solid cult following on the strength of 1988's California. Their next LP, 1989's United Kingdom, appeared only in the nation which lent the record its name and consisted of new material, some of which was recorded live at the Hotel Utah in San Francisco.
In 1991 American Music Club emerged with the record that is widely considered their masterpiece, Everclear. Critical acclaim attracted the attention of several major labels. Rolling Stone called it the Album of the Year and named Eitzel Songwriter of the Year for 1991. Eventually, AMC--now consisting of Eitzel, Vudi, Pearson, multi-instrumentalist Bruce Kaphan and drummer Tim Mooney--signed with Reprise in the US and Virgin throughout the rest of the world.
The band contributed the track "All Your Jeans Were Too Tight" to the 1993 AIDS-Benefit Album No Alternative produced by the Red Hot Organization. Mercury followed in 1993 and, despite positive reviews, the album fared poorly on the charts and earned virtually no recognition from radio or MTV. In 1994, AMC issued San Francisco, which balanced confessional tunes like "Fearless" and "The Thorn in My Side Is Gone" alongside more accessible offerings such as "Wish the World Away," one of the band's biggest hits.
The band disbanded soon after San Francisco was released and reunited in 2003 to record a new album, Love Songs for Patriots, which is described by reviewer Mark Deming as "a stronger and more coherent effort than the group's last set, 1994's San Francisco, and while it's too early to tell if this is a new start or a last hurrah for AMC, it at least shows that their formula still yields potent results. Here's hoping Eitzel and Vudi have more where this came from."
A performance in Pittsburgh on November 10, 2004, was released as a live CD, A Toast To You, on January 1, 2005. The band then consisted of Eitzel, Vudi, Pearson, Mooney, and Borger.
On June 20, 2007, AMC announced a new lineup connected to the band's base of operations moving to Los Angeles. Eitzel and Vudi remained, while Mooney and Pearson stayed behind in San Francisco. They were replaced by bassist Sean Hoffman and drummer Steve Didelot from the band The Larks. AMC's next record, entitled The Golden Age, was released in the UK on February 4, 2008 on Cooking Vinyl and in the US on February 19 on Merge Records.
Tim Mooney died of a blood clot in June 2012; he was 53.
Tom Mallon died after a long battle with brain cancer on January 9, 2014; he was 57.