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Violent Femmes

The textbook American cult band of the 1980s, the Violent Femmes captured the essence of teen angst with remarkable precision; raw and jittery, the trio's music found little commercial success but nonetheless emerged as the soundtrack for the lives of troubled adolescents the world over. The group formed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the early '80s, and comprised singer/guitarist Gordon Gano, bassist Brian Ritchie, and percussionist Victor DeLorenzo. Ritchie originated the band's oxymoronic name, adopting the word "femme" from the Milwaukee area's slang for wimps. After being discovered by the Pretenders' James Honeyman-Scott, the Violent Femmes signed to Slash and issued their self-titled 1983 debut, a melodic folk-punk collection which struck an obvious chord with young listeners who felt a strong connection to bitter, frustrated songs like "Blister in the Sun," "Kiss Off," and "Add It Up." Though never a chart hit, the album remained a rite of passage for succeeding generations of teen outsiders, and after close to a decade in release, it finally achieved platinum status.

With 1984's Hallowed Ground, Gano's lyrics began to reflect his devout Baptist upbringing, while the Femmes' music approached more traditional folk and country structures. Produced by Talking Heads' Jerry Harrison, 1986's The Blind Leading the Naked advanced toward a more mainstream sound; a cover of the T. Rex chestnut "Children of the Revolution" even became a minor hit. After the record's release, the Femmes temporarily disbanded: Gano recorded a self-titled 1987 album with his gospel side project the Mercy Seat, while Ritchie issued a series of solo LPs including 1987's The Blend and 1989's Sonic Temple & Court of Babylon for SST. (I See a Noise appeared on Dali Records in 1990.) In 1989, the group resurfaced with 3, followed by 1991's Why Do Birds Sing?, which featured the Femmes' deconstructionist cover of Culture Club's "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?"

Following the release of the 1993 compilation Add It Up (1981-1993), DeLorenzo exited the Violent Femmes to resume the solo career he began two years prior with the release of Peter Corey Sent Me; his sophomore effort, Pancake Day, appeared in 1996. Former Oil Tasters and BoDeans drummer Guy Hoffman was tapped as DeLorenzo's replacement in time to record 1994's New Times for Elektra Records, which proved their sole release for the label. Rock!!!!! was released in 1995 on Mushroom Records only in Australia; the live Viva Wisconsin followed on the American indie label Beyond in 1999, trailed early the next year by a new studio effort, Freak Magnet. In the spring of 2001, the Femmes released their first MP3-only album, Something's Wrong, through the website EMusic.com; it collected an assortment of rarities, including covers, acoustic live tracks, alternate versions, demos, and the like. In 2002, Rhino/Slash reissued their debut as a two-disc deluxe edition that featured 22 previously unreleased tracks, followed by Permanent Record: The Very Best Of in 2005.

The Violent Femmes closed out 2005 with a New Year's Eve show featuring all three original members and Guy Hoffman. This union was punctured in 2007 when Ritchie filed a lawsuit against Gano, seeking proper accounting of royalties while also claiming he was denied credit for songwriting; additionally, he stated Gano licensed "Blister in the Sun" for use in a Wendy's commercial without permission. During the lawsuit, the Violent Femmes managed to release a single -- a cover of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy," appearing in June of 2008 -- but the tensions caused the group to split in 2009. Ritchie and Gano settled out of court in 2012 and the Violent Femmes reunited in 2013, playing a number of shows, including a slot at that year's Coachella festival, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of their landmark debut. Following these shows, drummer Victor DeLorenzo departed acrimoniously -- in a statement, he claimed "In regards to my history with the Violent Femmes, the dream never quite got there" -- and was swiftly replaced by Brian Viglione, a drummer with the Dresden Dolls. Over the next couple of years, this lineup played frequently and released a four-song EP for Record Store Day in 2015, a teaser for the full-length We Can Do Anything in 2016. By the time that album appeared in March 2016, Viglione had resigned from the band. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The Very Best Of The Violent Femmes

1. Gimme The Car

2. Blister In The Sun

4. Kiss Off

5. Add It Up

6. Black Girls

7. Jesus Walking On The Water

8. Children Of The Revolution

9. I Held Her In My Arms

10. Nightmares

11. American Music

12. Breakin' Up

13. Color Me Once

14. I Danced

16. Freak Magnet

x

Track List: Freak Magnet

1. Hollywood Is High

2. Freak Magnet

3. Sleepwalkin'

4. All I Want

5. New Generation

6. In The Dark

7. Rejoice And Be Happy

8. Mosh Pit

9. Forbidden

10. When You Died

11. At Your Feet

12. I Danced

13. I'm Bad

14. Happiness Is

15. A Story (feat. Pierre Henry)

16. Rejoice And Be Happy (Live)

17. Freak Magnet (Live)

18. Positvely 4th Street (Live)

x

Track List: Viva Wisconsin (Live)

1. Prove My Love

2. I'm Nothing (Live)

3. Country Death Song

4. Blister In The Sun (Live)

5. Gimme The Car (Live)

6. Don't Talk About My Music (Shut Your Mouth) (Live)

7. Confessions (Live)

8. Hallowed Ground

9. Life Is An Adventure (Live)

10. Old Mother Reagan (Live)

11. Ugly (Live)

12. Good Feeling (Live)

13. Dahmer Is Dead (Live)

14. American Music

15. Special (Live)

16. Sweet Worlds Of Angels (Live)

17. Black Girls (Live)

18. Gone Daddy Gone (Live)

19. Add It Up (Live)

20. Kiss Off (Live)

21. Outside The Palace (Live)

x

Track List: Add It Up (1981-1993)

3. Blister In The Sun

4. Gone Daddy Gone

6. Gimme The Car

7. Country Death Song

8. Black Girls

9. Jesus Walking On The Water

11. I Held Her In My Arms

14. Old Mother Reagan

17. Lies

18. American Music

19. Out The Window

x

Track List: The Blind Leading The Naked

1. Old Mother Reagan

2. No Killing

3. Faith

4. Breakin' Hearts

5. Special

6. Love & Me Make Three

7. Candlelight Song

8. I Held Her In My Arms

9. Children Of The Revolution

10. Good Friend

11. Heartache

12. Cold Canyon

13. Two People

x

Track List: Hallowed Ground

1. Country Death Song

2. I Hear The Rain

3. Never Tell

4. Jesus Walking On The Water

5. I Know It's True But I'm Sorry To Say

6. Hallowed Ground

7. Sweet Misery Blues

8. Black Girls

9. It's Gonna Rain

x

Track List: We Can Do Anything

1. Memory

2. I Could Be Anything

3. Issues

4. Holy Ghost

5. What You Really Mean

6. Foothills

7. Traveling Solves Everything

8. Big Car

9. Untrue Love

10. I'm Not Done

Comments

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love the Femmes
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rondaszkiewi c z
Wow I forgot all about that Buckeye lake Dead show. Thanks so much for opening the memory flood gates!
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✌️❤️
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what a show, Violent Femmes opening for Grateful Dead, sounds awesome
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Once saw them open for the Grateful Dead in Buckeye lake Ohio. It was awesome on more than one level
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ritchiec53
They've released a new EP. Pandora, get on it.
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also my dad's favorite band since the start ;)
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Milwaukee represent!!
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Hey Nathan cash ....how the. #/: is that about heroin
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Aw yeah. ^_^
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ryan32870
I saw them a year ago in Cochella still on point!!! I graduated in 94 never thought I would never see them...Femme s fan for 4life!
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Love the Femmes
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Love this Group.. Where are you?
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Gone daddy gone!
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Throw her in the well!
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:)
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⚡️❤️⚡️
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✨❤️✨
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Brian Viglione of Dreden Dolls is now their drummer.
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Every time I listen to them it brings me back to my childhood of being pissed off and happy at the same time
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ritchiec53
Heard them last night @ Treasure Island Casino in MN. Awesome show with Colion Hay and Bare Naked Ladies. Way fun. My kids got to meet their cousin Brian Ritche. A few great photos.
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Blister in the sun , such a good song ❤️❤️❤️❤️
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Waukesha Wisconsin to be exact
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erovette
Best band of the 80's
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mrsjkp555
I just love this one!
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saw them at Maritime days in Milwaukee early to mid 90s


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Gonna add it up...add it up....
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For everyone who asked, Blister in the sun is about heroin
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Great music for running!
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zindlerj3
Great song, love this band, it's a break from commerical crap.
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lawson093
8=========== = = = = = = = = = D
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After one night in particular with one especially hot and exxxotic woman of Iranian descent I can never listen to the Femmes and not think of her. PLAY> REPEAT ARTIST, over and over again...
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Just kidding .fun awkward music.
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They were big. For people who dont like good music. Why is this on fugazi radio.
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They sucked back then and haven't gotten better with age

FUC% YOU BOB.
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Yea, yea they are the greatest things since pockets. ��
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Aaaaahahah.. . N i i i i i c e ! ! ! Used to LOVE Violent Femmes!!!
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damitab5
Love this song. #highschool #memories
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Love dis song #21
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My mom told me about them!
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WHY CAN'T I GET JUST ONE F**K
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jwmkbalentin e
I really like this jam.. Brings back all kinds of memories :-)
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toshaflaniga n
Always need alittle VF's throughout my day!!! Saw them in 91'...good times, great band, awesome memories!!
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like this
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F**k ya
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AWESOME
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after today I will stop and I will start
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Is this song about jacking off!?!? That's kinda weird
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Your hands are not big enough. You aren't the one.
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Weird band.
Show more

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