Throwing Muses

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Throwing Muses
Throwing Muses in San Francisco, February 28, 2014.jpg
Throwing Muses: David Narcizo, Kristin Hersh, Bernard Georges – San Francisco, 2014
Background information
Origin Newport, Rhode Island, United States
Genres Alternative rock, post-punk
Years active1981–1997, 2002–present
Labels 4AD, Sire, Warner Bros.
Members Kristin Hersh
David Narcizo
Bernard Georges
Past members Tanya Donelly
Leslie Langston
Fred Abong
Elaine Adamedes
Becca Blumen

Throwing Muses are an American alternative rock band formed in 1981 in Newport, Rhode Island, United States, [1] that toured and recorded extensively until 1997, when its members began concentrating more on other projects.


The group was originally fronted by two stepsisters, Kristin Hersh and Tanya Donelly, who both wrote the group's songs. [1] Throwing Muses are known for performing music with shifting tempos, creative chord progressions, unorthodox song structures, and surreal lyrics. [1] The group was set apart from other contemporary acts by Hersh's stark, candid writing style; Donelly's pop stylings and vocal harmonies; and David Narcizo's unusual drumming techniques eschewing use of cymbals. Hersh's hallucinatory, feverish lyrics occasionally touch on the subject of mental illness, more often drawing portraits of characters from daily life or addressing relationships.


1983–1986: Formation, first EP and The Doghouse Cassette, debut album

Throwing Muses were formed in 1983 by Kristin Hersh and her stepsister Tanya Donelly, who were both attending Rogers High School. [1] They initially called themselves "Kristin Hersh and the Muses", [2] in which band they were accompanied by bass player Elaine Adamedes and drummer Becca Blumen who were later replaced by Leslie Langston and David Narcizo, respectively. [2] Narcizo did not originally know how to play the drums but when Hersh told him that Becca Blumen had left the band and he could join, Narcizo said on the subject "I had never played a drum kit before – all I'd played was marching drums and concert drums. We found somebody whose kit we could borrow, but it arrived without cymbals. I learned to play on it without cymbals which then became my trademark early on." [1]

Throwing Muses released their debut self-titled EP in 1984 on their own Blowing Fuses label. In 1985, they released a set of demos, later known as The Doghouse Cassette, garnering a number-one college radio hit, "Sinkhole" and extensive coverage in the local music press. Demo producer Gary Smith of Fort Apache Studios led them to sign with 4AD, where they became the label's first American band. [2] [3] Kristin recalls, "I signed with them because [owner] Ivo [Watts-Russell] was funny and goofy, and that was about it." [4] In 1986, they released their self-titled debut album produced by Gil Norton. Hersh has written the memoir Rat Girl about the year the band moved to Boston, was signed, and recorded their first album. [5]

1987–1991: further EPs, House Tornado, Hunkpapa and The Real Ramona

In 1987, Throwing Muses released two EPs, Chains Changed and The Fat Skier, released July 6. These were followed in 1988 by their second studio album, House Tornado , produced by Gary Smith and engineered by Paul Kolderie; it was recorded at Fort Apache Studios in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The album was released internationally on the 4AD label, except in the United States, where it was released by Sire Records. Sire used a different album cover for its release, as the label was putting a strong promotional push behind the band, and label executives favored a picture of the band over the collage featured on the 4AD release. Both House Tornado and the Fat Skier were combined on a single CD in a later release. The band embarked on a tour of the UK, supported by the Pixies, to support House Tornado. [2] [4]

In 1989, the band released their third album, Hunkpapa , which was produced by Gary Smith and engineered by Steve Haigler. The album saw Hersh experimenting with more conventional melodic structures, although the fractious lyrics remained. The song “Dizzy” was released as a single.

In 1990, bassist Leslie Langston left and was replaced by Fred Abong. [1] Throwing Muses recorded their fourth album, The Real Ramona during the same year. [1] The Real Ramona is considered to have a more poppy sound than their previous records. [6] The song "Counting Backwards" from the album was released a single. Shortly after the album's release in 1991, Tanya Donelly left the Muses to form Belly, taking Abong with her. [1]

1992–2002: Work as trio – Red Heaven, University, Limbo and disbandment

With Donnelly not being replaced, Throwing Muses opted to continue as a trio, with Bernard Georges replacing Abong on bass. [1] In 1992, the band made a fresh start recording their fifth album Red Heaven [1] at The Power Station and Fort Apache Studios. The album was produced by Throwing Muses and Steve Boyer, and also featured guest appearances by Leslie Langston and by Hüsker Dü frontman Bob Mould (the latter duetting with Hersh on the song "Dio"). [2]

In 1993, they recorded their sixth album, University . Hersh recorded her debut album, Hips and Makers , immediately after recording finished on University. Hips and Makers was released first, in 1994, which delayed the release of University until 1995. [7] University gave the band their first national U.S. hit, "Bright Yellow Gun". The album was favorably reviewed.

Throwing Muses released their seventh album, Limbo , which was followed by a tour. However, the band disbanded in 1997 as Kristin Hersh went on to continue her solo career. [8]

2002–present: Reformation – Throwing Muses, Purgatory, etc.

In March 2003, Throwing Muses came back with their eighth album, Throwing Muses , which also saw the return of Tanya Donelly who provided backing vocals on the album. A greatest hits compilation titled Anthology was released in 2011. The band's ninth album, Purgatory / Paradise was released on October 29, 2013 in the UK and November 11 in the US. [9]

In early 2014, the band toured a few U.S. cities, with Donelly opening for the East Coast dates. [10] [11]

The first single from their new album Sun Racket , titled "Dark Blue", was released in February 2020. [12] The album was released on Fire Records on September 4, 2020. [13]


Long-term core lineup
Other members


Studio albums

Live albums

Chart singles

YearTitlePeak chart positionsAlbum
1989"Dizzy"858 Hunkpapa
1991"Counting Backwards"7011 The Real Ramona
"Not Too Soon"
1992"Firepile"46 Red Heaven
1995"Bright Yellow Gun"5120118 University
1996"Shark"53 Limbo

Related Research Articles

Kristin Hersh American singer-songwriter, musician, and author

Martha Kristin Hersh is an American singer-songwriter, musician and author, known for her solo work and with her rock bands Throwing Muses and 50FootWave. She has released eleven solo albums. Her guitar work and composition style ranges from jaggedly dissonant to traditional folk. Hersh's lyrics have a stream-of-consciousness style, reflecting her personal experiences.

Belly (band) American alternative rock band

Belly are an alternative rock band formed in Rhode Island in 1991 by former Throwing Muses and Breeders member Tanya Donelly. The original lineup consisted of Donelly on vocals and guitar, Fred Abong on bass, and brothers Tom and Chris Gorman on guitar and drums respectively. The band released two albums during the early 1990s alternative rock boom before breaking up in 1995. They reunited in 2016 and mounted limited tours in the United States and United Kingdom that year.

<i>Lovesongs for Underdogs</i> 1997 studio album by Tanya Donelly

Lovesongs for Underdogs is the solo debut album by American singer Tanya Donelly, who had formerly recorded with Throwing Muses, The Breeders, and Belly. It was released on August 9, 1997. Two singles were released for promotion of the album. "Pretty Deep" was released in July 1997, while "The Bright Light" was released in October 1997. In the U.S both 4AD released singles were released in two parts, each including 2 newly released B-Sides. "Pretty Deep" featured "Spaghetti", "Morna", "These Days" and "Influenza". "The Bright Light" featured "Bury My Heart", "How Can You Sleep?", "Life On Sirius" and "Moon Over Boston". A music video for each single was produced and aired on Vh1 and MTV2. Both videos differed highly in creative and artistic direction from previous Belly videos and exclusively featured Tanya solo, in movie like settings. "Pretty Deep" and "The Bright Light" enjoyed heavy airplay on Triple A radio stations in the U.S Northeast. "Lovesongs For Underdogs" peaked at #36 on the Official UK Albums Chart for 2 weeks upon its release. The singles, "Pretty Deep" and "The Bright Light" peaked at #55 and #65 for 2 weeks each upon their 2 CD Single releases.

<i>Beautysleep</i> 2002 studio album by Tanya Donelly

Beautysleep is the second album by Tanya Donelly, released in 2002.

Tanya Donelly American musician

Tanya Donelly is an American Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter and guitarist based in New England who co-founded Throwing Muses with her step-sister Kristin Hersh. Donelly went on to co-form the alternative rock band The Breeders in 1989, before leaving to front her own band Belly in 1991. By the late 1990s, she settled into a solo recording career, working largely with musicians connected to the Boston music scene.

David John Narcizo, is an American musician and graphic designer, primarily known for his work as the longtime drummer for Throwing Muses.

<i>Star</i> (Belly album) 1993 studio album by Belly

Star is the debut studio album by American alternative rock band Belly, released on January 25, 1993.

<i>The Real Ramona</i> 1991 studio album by Throwing Muses

The Real Ramona is a studio album by Throwing Muses, released in 1991. It peaked at number 26 on the UK Albums Chart.

<i>Hips and Makers</i> 1994 studio album by Kristin Hersh

Hips and Makers is the debut solo album by Kristin Hersh, best known as the primary singer and songwriter of the band Throwing Muses. The album was released by 4AD in the UK on January 24, 1994, and by Sire Records in the US on February 1, 1994. In contrast to Hersh's rock-oriented work with Throwing Muses, the album is primarily acoustic, with Hersh usually playing unaccompanied. Other credited musicians include Jane Scarpantoni on cello and Michael Stipe of R.E.M., who sings backing vocals on the opening track, "Your Ghost." In addition to Hersh's own material, the album features a cover of the traditional song "The Cuckoo".

<i>Hunkpapa</i> (album) 1989 studio album by Throwing Muses

Hunkpapa is a studio album by Throwing Muses, released in 1989. It peaked at number 59 on the UK Albums Chart.

Bright Yellow Gun 1994 single by Throwing Muses

"Bright Yellow Gun" is the only single by Throwing Muses from their 1995 album University. An accompanying video was also made directed by Kevin Kerslake.

<i>House Tornado</i> 1988 studio album by Throwing Muses

House Tornado is an album by the alternative rock band Throwing Muses. Produced by Gary Smith and engineered by Paul Q. Kolderie, it was recorded at Fort Apache Studios in Cambridge, MA. The album was released in 1988 internationally on the 4AD label, except in the United States, where it was released by Sire Records. Sire used a different album cover for its release, as the label was putting a strong promotional push behind the band, and label executives favored a picture of the band over the collage featured on the 4AD release.

<i>Throwing Muses</i> (1986 album) 1986 studio album by Throwing Muses

Throwing Muses is the 1986 debut album of the band Throwing Muses, released on British independent label 4AD. This was the first album by an American band to be released on 4AD, which had concentrated primarily on British-based acts up to this point. The release marked a shift in the label's direction; a year later 4AD would sign Pixies based in part on the band's connection to Throwing Muses, and by the mid-1990s much of the label's roster was made up of American bands.

<i>Learn to Sing Like a Star</i> 2007 studio album by Kristin Hersh

Learn to Sing Like a Star is Kristin Hersh's seventh solo album and was released in the US on Yep Roc Records on the 23 January 2007 and on 4AD for the rest of the world on the 29 January. The album was produced by Kristin herself and mixed in Nashville by two-time Grammy winner Trina Shoemaker. It features her Throwing Muses bandmate David Narcizo on drums and with strings by the McCarricks. The album peaked at #27 on the US's Billboard Top Heatseekers Album Chart.

<i>Throwing Muses</i> (2003 album) 2003 studio album by Throwing Muses

Throwing Muses is an album by the alternative rock band Throwing Muses. It was recorded over three weekends and released simultaneously with Kristin Hersh's solo record The Grotto on 17 March 2003. The album features Bernard Georges on bass and David Narcizo on drums as well as original bandmate Tanya Donelly on backing vocals.

<i>Red Heaven</i> 1992 studio album by Throwing Muses

Red Heaven is a studio album by Throwing Muses, released in 1992. It peaked at number 13 on the UK Albums Chart. NME named it the 38th best album of 1992.

<i>Chains Changed</i> 1987 EP by Throwing Muses

Chains Changed is an EP recording by Throwing Muses, released in 1987.

<i>The Fat Skier</i> 1987 studio album by Throwing Muses

The Fat Skier is a mini-LP by Throwing Muses, released on 6 July 1987 on the 4AD label in the UK and licensed to Sire Records in the US. It played at 33 ⅓ RPM on the A-side and at 45 RPM on the B-side. It reached number two in the Independent Albums Chart in the UK.

<i>Purgatory/Paradise</i> 2013 studio album by Throwing Muses

Purgatory/Paradise is the ninth studio album by Throwing Muses. The album was released in the form of a book containing song lyrics, artwork and a code to download additional music. The album was named after Purgatory Road and Paradise Avenue, two roads that intersect in Middletown, Rhode Island.

<i>Sun Racket</i> 2020 studio album by Throwing Muses

Sun Racket is a studio album by American alternative rock band Throwing Muses. The album was released on Fire Records on September 4, 2020, and has received positive reviews from critics.


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