Arising from the ashes of the Ann Arbor grunge outfit whirlingRoad, Getaway Cruiser, in a way, illustrates the evolution of alternative rock. Brothers Chris and Drew Peters were always fascinated by music; by the time they attended the University of Michigan in the early '90s, they had decided to become part of the industry. The Peters established themselves as record reviewers at The Michigan Review, the University's conservative publication, and began working on their band, whirlingRoad. From the outset, they decided to have control over their recordings, founding an independent label called Skillet Records with the assistance of Ted Nugent's manager Doug Banker, and skillfully promoting the label by pasting stickers of their logo all over campus. whirlingRoad gigged whenever they could, playing frat parties and, eventually, the Blind Pig, Ann Arbor's main club.
When whirlingRoad released their first full-length album in early 1995, guitar-heavy alt-rock ruled the radio, but hip listeners knew that indie rock was backing away from the recycled '70s metal that ruled post-grunge. whirlingRoad's debut was straight-up post-grunge, and while it received some attention in southeast Michigan, it didn't earn a big following. The Peters brothers, along with bassist Mark Dundon, recognized that the times were changing and decided to disband whirlingRoad and form Getaway Cruiser. Drawing heavily from dream pop like the Cranes and new electro-pop like Curve and Garbage, as well as Detroit's healthy space rock scene, Chris and Drew began making experimental tapes with drum machines, synths, and distorted guitars. Enlisting U of M student Dina Harrison as a vocalist and Dan Carroll as a live drummer, Getaway Cruiser's lineup gelled in spring 1996, and the band signed with the same management that helped propel fellow Michigan rockers the Verve Pipe to Top Ten status. Getaway Cruiser's debut album, Phones Calling, was released on Skillet Records in January of 1997, featuring tracks produced by such space rock icons as Mercury Rev bassist Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Luna) and former Ultra Vivid Scene leader Kurt Ralske. The following month they released the Instrumentals EP, which was designed to showcase their experimental side. By the summer of 1997, the band and management had all worked their connections to secure a contract with Sony's alternative subsidiary 550 Music. Hiring the Butcher Brothers, the production team behind Cypress Hill and Urge Overkill, Getaway Cruiser recorded their debut album in the fall of 1997. The Butchers helped secure cameos from Kool Keith and Pras of the Fugees for the album, thus securing Getaway Cruiser's transformation from grunge rockers to electronica-savvy, hip-hop-ready, post-Beck eclectics.
Getaway Cruiser began supporting their eponymous debut with a string of local Michigan gigs in the spring, laying the groundwork for the June 2, 1998 release of the album. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine