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Sponge Biography

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 on the hits "Plowed" and "Molly (Sixteen Candles)" -- their songs had a knack for jangly riffs and catchy, anthemic hard rock hooks, despite being wrapped in the fuzzy guitars and brooding seriousness of grunge. Sponge grew out of a Detroit-based hard rock act called Loudhouse, which released an album on Virgin in 1988 before getting dropped and breaking up. Drummer-turned-vocalist Vinnie Dombrowski (b. Mark Dombrowski) and guitarists Mike Cross and Joey Mazzola regrouped as Sponge in 1992, adding Mike's brother Tim Cross on ba**, and Jimmy Paluzzi on drums. Adapting their '70s hard rock influences to fit the grunge zeitgeist, Sponge earned a major-label deal with Columbia, and released their debut album Rotting Pinata in late 1994. Critics compared them unfavorably to the 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. But even though songs like "Wax Ecstatic (To Sell Angelina)," "I Am Anastasia," and "Have You Seen Mary" landed some 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 cla**icist 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 ba**ist 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 in 2003 with For All the Drugs in the World, on the Idol label. ~ Steve Huey, All Music Guide

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