With their geeky, nervous folk-pop, Violent Femmes became one of the biggest cult bands of the 1980s.
They formed in the early 80s in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, were “discovered” by James Honeyman-Scott of The Pretenders while busking, and released their self-titled debut in 1982.
The album received widespread critical acclaim, became a favourite on college radio, and contained classic tracks like Blister In The Sun, Kiss Off, Gone Daddy Gone, Prove My Love and Add It Up.
The Femmes never quite matched that debut LP, although all their subsequent records contained some good songs.
Though mistaken for a parody when it was released, their second album Hallowed Ground (1984) featured Gordon Gano’s serious Christian convictions, with teenage angst pushed aside for more mature (almost traditional) American folk.
The band remained a popular live draw and Gano had returned to his troubled teen persona by their third album, The Blind Leading The Naked (1986), which included a nice cover version of the T. Rex classic Children Of The Revolution.
After a brief tour in support of the album, Violent Femmes split. Ironically, The Blind became their first album to chart, both in the UK and back home in the US, albeit in the lower reaches of the Top 100.
After several years of absence, the Femmes made a comeback of sorts with 1991’s Why Do Birds Sing?. Returning to their street busking roots the band played stripped-back acoustic songs as a three-piece, and though they couldn’t hide the fact that they had grown up, the songs on the album showed they still knew how to have fun.
The ensuing two decades saw three largely uninspired studio albums, a handful of compilations, some live documents and the odd song for soundtracks like The Crow and South Park.
DeLorenzo quit in 1993 to resume his acting career and was replaced by The Bo Deans’ Guy Hoffman, though he was back to celebrate a 20th-anniversary reissue of their debut album.
Bassist Brian Ritchie moved to Hobart in Australia in 2007. The band have continued to reform sporadically with Gano and Ritchie supplemented by a variety of other musicians.