The Lemonheads

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The Lemonheads U.S. Tour poster by Darren Grealish© 2015

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Return (2005–present)[edit]

The Lemonheads.

The Lemonheads at Shepherds Bush Empire, September 2005

After a nine-year hiatus, the band reformed in the summer of 2005 with a recording lineup bolstered by Bill Stevenson and Karl Alvarez, members of Descendents. Recently, the live lineup has fluctuated, with Stevenson and George Berz (Dinosaur Jr) both sitting in on drums during 2005, while Josh Lattanzi—chiefly known for his work with Ben Kweller—has frequently taken on bass duties for live shows.

On September 14 and 15, 2005, Dando, Stevenson and Lattanzi performed two shows at Shepherds Bush Empire in London as part of the ATP Don’t Look Back series, where they played It’s a Shame About Ray in its entirety.

In April 2006, The Lemonheads were signed to Vagrant Records. The album, simply titled The Lemonheads, was released on September 26, 2006 in the United States and one day earlier in the UK; the album featured special guests Garth Hudson and J Mascis on select tracks. To promote the album Dando toured the UK, Europe and US in late 2006 with a band consisting of Vess Ruhtenberg (bass) and Devon Ashley (drums) of The Pieces. In the US, they toured with Vietnam and Hymns (band) as support. The same line-up toured again in 2007 and 2008. The recording line-up of Dando, Alvarez and Stevenson played live for the first time together on a 20-date US tour in late 2007.

While The Lemonheads reformed, co-founder Deily received a degree from Harvard University. He currently works as an Associate Creative Director in the advertising industry. His power pop/punk band, Varsity Drag, completed a 25-city European tour during January and February 2007, performing their own material alongside several Deily compositions from the first four Lemonheads releases. Varsity Drag continues to perform periodically in the Boston Area.[8]

A deluxe reissue of Lemonheads’ 1992 album It’s a Shame About Ray was released in March 2008 (US) and April 2008 (UK) on Rhino Records,[2] which features demos, B-sides and a DVD issue of the previously VHS-only Two Weeks In Australia, featuring footage from the band’s Australian tour in the wake of their breakthrough album’s release. To promote the reissue, the line-up of Dando, Ruhtenberg and Ashley performed the album in full at a number gigs between March and May 2008. Later in 2008 the band toured again in Europe with Vess Ruhtenberg and P. David Hazel (drums) of Beta Male.

On April 23, 2008, at the inaugural NME US Awards ceremony at the El Rey in Los Angeles, Dando received the classic album award for It’s A Shame About Ray, and also performed “My Drug Buddy” and the album’s title track acoustically. According to reports, soon after receiving the award, Dando deposited it into a garbage can, telling a minder “I don’t want this”.[9]

On June 23, 2009, The Lemonheads released Varshons – a collection of eleven covers, including tracks by Gram Parsons, Wire, GG Allin, and Christina Aguilera. The album also featured actress Liv Tyler performing a duet on Leonard Cohen‘s “Hey That’s No Way To Say Goodbye”.[10] Despite several websites reporting a release date of September 13, 2008, the album was not released on this date. Later, in a blog post on the band’s MySpace page, Dando hinted at a March 2009 release. On March 27, 2009, it was announced that Varshons would be released on June 23 on The End Records.

In an August 2007 interview, drummer Bill Stevenson stated that he was going to produce the Lemonhead’s ninth album of original material.[11][12] As of August 2010, however, announcements of a new album have not yet been released.

In September 2010 the Lemonheads announced an Australian tour playing all thirteen songs from the 1992 album It’s a Shame about Ray, plus a selection of songs from other albums.[13]

On February 7, 2012, The Lemonheads will release Hotel Sessions on Hall of Records/Breath of Saltwater – an intimate recording documenting a Sunday night that Evan Dando spent recording new songs with just an acoustic guitar (and some revealing commentary) in a hotel room in Bondi Beach, Australia. The 14 songs include some that never made it to an official Lemonheads album, but Dando says, “the “Into Your Arms” I did here is better than the one on the album (I like it anyway).” [14]

As of March 2012, The Lemonheads are wrapping up a 9-week U.S. tour playing all thirteen songs from the 1992 album It’s a Shame about Ray, plus a selection of songs from other albums. Lead singer Evan Dando recruited drummer Chuck Treece and former Taking Back Sunday lead guitarist Fred Mascherino to play bass.

April 23, 2012, The Lemonheads played a gig at Waterfront, Norwich, UK.

August 21, 2012, it was announced that Juliana Hatfield would rejoin The Lemonheads for a late year tour supporting The Psychedelic Furs.[15]

On September 17, 2012 Ryan Adams tweeted that he would be playing drums on a new ‘punker sounding’ Lemonheads album as well as producing it. He also announced that Evan Dando would be joined on the record by Juliana Hatfield and, for the first time since 1989’s Lick, co-founder and original co-songwriter Ben Deily.[16]

The Lemonheads played a seven-date tour in Ireland and the UK in October 2015.[17]

Personnel[edit]

During the earliest years, the band consisted of Evan Dando, Ben Deily, and Jesse Peretz. Dando and Deily shared singing and songwriting duties; when recording or performing live each would sing and play guitar on their own compositions while the other would play drums. When the arrangement became unworkable, they hired additional drummers including Doug Trachten and John Strohm. On most of the first three albums (released by independent label TAANG!), songs from various recording sessions and live tracks are mixed, so instrumentation varies considerably from track-to-track depending on who was in the band when the tracks were recorded. CD versions of these albums were also released with bonus tracks from even later line-ups of the band.

When Deily quit the band in 1989, Dando replaced him with guitarist Corey Loog Brennan and drummer Mark Natola. Natola would be replaced by drummer David Ryan prior to the band’s first major label album, Lovey. Following the recording of Lovey, founding bass player Jesse Peretz left the band to pursue a career in photography and filmmaking, and Brennan left to concentrate on his career as a college professor.

On their breakout album, It’s a Shame About Ray, Juliana Hatfield had joined on bass guitar and backing vocals. She would remain the backing vocalist for the follow-up album Come on Feel the Lemonheads, but would be replaced on bass guitar by Nic Dalton. John Strohm, who had previously played drums with the band during their early years, toured with the band as a second guitarist in support of these albums.

Starting with 1996’s Car Button Cloth and continuing through the present, the band membership has been fluid, with the name The Lemonheads generally being used by whomever Evan Dando had recruited to record and/or play with at the time. Their last official release was 2009’s collection of cover songs Varshons. Several announcements of albums or tours involving any number of musicians have been announced over the years since then, most recently a 2012 project involving Ben Deily, Juliana Hatfield, and Ryan Adams, but as yet no major recordings or substantial tours have materialized.

Below is an approximate timeline of membership in The Lemonheads. Other than Evan Dando, the band has rarely had a stable line-up. The timeline below shows only members which were primary recording or touring members. It does not include guest musicians, or ephemeral line-ups which only appeared on stage under The Lemonheads moniker for one-off shows or brief appearances. Dates of membership are approximate based on known shows and recordings.

Evan Dando

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