The band was formed in their home state of Michigan in 1992. The original members were Brian Vander Ark, Brad Vander Ark, Brian Stout and Donny Brown. Although from East Lansing, they played throughout Michigan and garnered quite a following for their dense and tense sound, which was quite popular at the time. While emerging the same time as the grunge sound from the Pacific Northwest was fading, although the sounds were actually fairly different. The sound of the Michigan and Eastern bands like Live or Creed were considered alternative, and some even post-grunge. The music was more personal, less of the trampled spirit of the young and more working class. They came out of places like East Lansing or York, Pennsylvania. They were quickly scooped up and released their major label debut, Villains. The first single, Photograph, met with some moderate success in sales and on the radio. It is a very nice song.
But for many, it is another single that brought much attention on the band. The Freshmen seemed to speak for an entire generation, and was just one of those songs that 15 years later, still has people feeling it talks to their heart as well. Many thought it spoke not only to their feelings, but also to their actual life experience. It really does touch people that deeply. I remember rushing out to get this CD after hearing this song.
They also released the title cut from the album, Villains. It shows yet another mood and sound for the band, although it does build into the dense sound of the era.
The band is still together, and in 2009 released an album inspired by their own lives, their own families. The were asked to contribute a track to a family-oriented album, and it grew into a full project for them, A Family Album. This is the video for When Two Becomes Three, and I think the animation is pretty cool.
They continue to tour and play shows together, although the line up of the band has changed a bit through the years. Two of the original members, Brian Vander Ark and Donny Brown, are still holding the band together. For more about the band, check out their official website here. Vander Ark has also put out some solo material you might want to check out here.