Teen angst combined with a raw and jittery style made the Violent Femmes the textbook cult band of the 1980s. Their debut 1983 album set the standard for a generation of sardonic alt rockers.
Formed in Milwaukee, the Violent Femmes got their break when James Honeyman-Scott found them busking in front of the theatre where the Pretenders were playing and signed them to a recording contract. Despite a loyal following that knows the bands’ best songs by heart, the Violent Femmes never cracked the top 40 although their debut album reached Platinum in sales.
The Violent Femmes continued recording consistently through 2000, with two minor hits coming in 1985 and 1991. Gradually building up from their spare three member sound, they ultimately reverted back there.
In between the Femmes disbanded and engaged one another in lawsuits over song rights in 2007. Finally in 2013 the band reconciled and reunited to tour and record new music. Lead singer Gordon Gano says he is surprised by the bands’ audience. While many aging alt bands retain their core audiences from their youth, he says it is not that way for them. They see an audience that stays the same age as they get older.