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date: 13 July 2020

Violent Femmeslocked

  • Lukas Pearse

Extract

Post-punk, folk-punk band. Formed in 1980 in Milwaukee Wisconsin, the trio featured Gordon Gano (b 1963; guitar, voice), Brian Ritchie (b 1960; bass guitar), and Victor De Lorenzo (b 1954; percussion). Guy Hoffmann replaced De Lorenzo from 1993 to 2002. The group broke up in 2009.

Inspired by punk rock, the Violent Femmes incorporated elements of folk, jazz, bluegrass, country, and rockabilly music into their minimal and frequently acoustic sound. Brian Ritchie often played acoustic bass guitar in a highly aggressive style that borrowed from both rockabilly upright acoustic bass and punk electric guitar, foreshadowing the “unplugged” style that 1990s rock bands would sometimes adopt. Both percussionists usually played only snare drum, tambourine, and crash cymbal. Gano’s songs, delivered with his distinctive nasal vocal delivery, frequently addressed themes of teenage alienation and desperation, marked by sexual frustration, drug use, and implicit violence. They also depicted innocence and naiveté, with later songs becoming increasingly spiritual and nostalgic. In performance, the band often included an ad hoc horn section, the Horns of Dilemma, including saxophonist Steve Mackay of the Stooges and local musical acquaintances or audience members, functioning as an improvised wall-of-sound background rather than as a traditional horn section....

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