Following the grunge era of the mid-1990s, a host of alternative rock bands helped define the latter portion of the last century.
For those rock fans now in their 30s and 40s, the Gen-X Summer tour is a nostalgic throwback to the days of MTV’s "Total Request Live" and the new wave of multifaceted rock that blended metal, punk and grunge.
Lit, Buckcherry, and Alien Ant Farm, who all enjoyed hit singles at the end of the 1990s and early 2000s, are making a stop in Savannah on July 5 to play the beleaguered Stage on Bay.
Alien Ant Farm was slated to play Stage on Bay with P.O.D. in September, but the show was canceled when Hurricane Irma shut down the city. The mid-capacity venue has continued to be hit with a string of misfortunes since opening St. Patrick's Day weekend in 2017, after dealing with neighborhood opposition and a fight with the city council to get a liquor license. Anthrax and J.J. Grey & Mofro recently canceled shows there, which followed cancellations and rescheduled dates from Soul Asylum and Blues Traveler.
Alien Ant Farm formed in 1996 in Southern California. In 2001, they released their second album and major-label debut, “ANThology,” which featured a nu-metal cover of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal.” The song and video, which paid homage to Jackson, was a No. 1 hit on the U.S. Modern Rock charts. In the subsequent years, Alien Ant Farm took a series of blows. A tragic bus accident, followed by the departure of original guitarist Terry Corso and waning popularity, left the band’s future in doubt.
In 2010, however, the original lineup featuring singer Dryden Mitchell, Corso, Tye Zamora and Mike Cosgrove reunited, publicly stating they had indeed broken up. They released a new album in 2015, “Always and Forever,” and have continued to tour and write since reforming.
“It was definitely a bit of a jagged pill to deal with over the years,” Corso told Do Savannah last year. “We dealt with our share of fair-weather fans. Believe me. I think we came out of the other side with a lot of people who saw that we were more than a band that got a freak, accident cover of Michael Jackson.
“It was fun for us,” Corso recalled. “We were young and didn’t know sh!t, except that we liked to play music and play good music. Being musicians, that was expanding our chops, honing ourselves ...
“There can be 3 million people in the world that want to knock me down because I had success from a record that had a Michael Jackson cover on it, but those 3 million people go away as soon as I remind myself that Michael Jackson himself was a fan. We actually gave him a No. 1 single when Quincy Jones said that song would not go to No. 1 for him. He got to get into Quincy’s face," he said with a laugh.
Buckcherry formed in 1995 in Anaheim, Calif., around lead vocalist Josh Todd and guitarist Keith Nelson. Their self-titled debut album, released in 1999, garnered critical acclaim with a number of hits, including “Lit Up.” It earned them a spot at the infamous Woodstock ’99 festival and an opening slot on tour with AC/DC.
In 2002, the band began a three-year hiatus over internal arguments over the musical direction. Todd reformed the group in 2005 with Nelson and hit the studio. Their third album, “15,” catapulted them back into the limelight behind the hit, “Crazy Bitch.”
Throughout a number of lineup changes and the drastic shift away from rock music in the national zeitgeist, Buckcherry has continued to tour and record. Last year, they added two new members, Kevin Roentgen on lead guitar and Sean Winchester on drums.
“Buckcherry’s the best it’s ever been,” Todd said in an interview with Do Savannah. “It’s finally an arena rock band. Which is what I always wanted it to be. We have world-class players. We have Shawn Winchester on the the drums. We met him when we did the Conflict (Josh Todd and The Conflict) record last year. He came in and learned a lot of songs, really quickly. We got along with him really well. I am a very rhythmic singer. I worked off the drums. I liked him so much I said, dude, I want you to do double duty. It worked out really nicely.
“Kevin, we’ve known for a long time,” Todd continued. “He’s a great guitar player and singer. We’ve known him throughout the years from the local scene here in Los Angeles. He wanted to do this and we were super excited. We all get together and we’re having a great time and everyone’s smiling. That’s wonderful. That’s when Buckcherry is thriving.
“We just finished all the songwriting for our new record, which is going to drop in 2019. It’s really great. We've got our partner, Century Media, is going to put it out. We’re so excited. We’re going to record in October. Right now, we’re playing one of the songs live, called ‘The Vacuum,’ along with all the hits. We rotate all the songs we can from all the records. We have so many now.”
Another California rock band that formed in the mid-1990s, Lit began with brothers A. Jay Popoff and Jeremy Popoff and bassist Kevin Blades. They originally called themselves Razzle, performing their first show together in 1988. In 1995, they changed their name to Lit and in 1999, released their second and most popular album, “A Place in the Sun,” which gave them their biggest hits, “My Own Worst Enemy” and “Miserable.”
Their late 1990s popularity garnered them a slot at Woodstock ’99 and a tour with The Offspring, Garbage and No Doubt. Lit’s original drummer, Allen Shellenberger, died of cancer in 2008. A year later, they played their first show with new drummer Evan Kilbourne.
“Friendship and music has been part of our fabric for all of us, collectively and individually,” Blades said in an interview with Do Savannah. “We need to be playing music. Since we found each other at such a young age and found this thing out.”
Most recently, Lit shifted away from the power-punk roots into an alt-country direction behind 2016’s “These Are the Days,” their sixth studio album.
“We haven’t necessarily gone country,” Blades explained. “It’s a Lit-style country. It’s how we would do it. It kind of makes it OK, in our eyes.
“Not to discount us in the punk world, but I don’t know if we’re rock, alternative, punk. I have no idea what we are because we have done so many different variations. Whatever comes out of AJ’s mouth and our fingers and the drums is the fabric of what Lit is.”