Versus is an American indie rock band formed in 1990 by Richard Baluyut, Fontaine Toups, and Edward Baluyut in New York City. Richard and Fontaine were to remain the two core members throughout the band's history. The band was noted for their marriage of indie pop songwriting and vocal harmonies to the "loud-soft" dynamics of grunge and alternative rock. They were also noted for their proficient and disciplined musicianship and for their credo of "meat, sports, and rock", none of which had much currency in the early 1990s American indie scene. They named themselves after the Mission of Burma album Vs.
Versus has counted at least one, usually two, and sometimes three of the Filipino-American Baluyut brothers as members throughout its existence, and was perhaps the most prominent example of a wave of American indie bands emerging in the early 1990s which featured Asian American members.Merge Records is Versus' most recent record label, although they have maintained a long involvement with TeenBeat Records, and released two CDs through Caroline Records in the mid-1990s.
The band makes an appearance in the 1994 cult road movie Half-cocked.
Breakup and Other Projects:
The band still continued to tour occasionally but began a recording hiatus in 2001 after it broke up for a short period and Richard Baluyut relocated to San Francisco. The members afterwards moved on to other bands - James Baluyut and Patrick Ramos formed +/-, Fontaine Toups formed The Fontaine Toups and Richard Baluyut converted his solo acoustic project Whysall Lane into a full band. Former member Edward Baluyut formed and played in The Pacific Ocean from 1996 to 2003.
Reunion and Current Status:
After a prolonged period of inactivity (the band had only played one show in the preceding 3 years) Versus played a private warm-up show in November 2007 and opened for Yo La Tengo at a Hanukkah show on December 4, 2007. At that point Richard Baluyut had recently returned to live in New York City, both TFT and Whysall Lane had broken up, and +/- was temporarily on hold while member Chris Deaner was touring as part of Kelly Clarkson's live band. Versus opened for Love Is All at the Bowery Ballroom in June, 2008 as a three-piece with Ed Baluyut on drums. The band played as a four-piece with James Baluyut and Patrick Ramos when they toured Japan with +/- in late 2008, but in June 2009 the Versus MySpace page announced that Edward Baluyut had rejoined as a longtime member and that James and Patrick had left the group. The group began recording a new album that month, and started performing as a four-piece band with Margaret White on violin and keyboards. The band released "On the Ones and Threes" (on Merge Records) - the first Versus LP in ten years - in August 2010. A UK-based fan-site for them that had been around since 2000 finally closed in January 2011.
Richard Baluyut - guitar, vocals (1990 onwards),
Fontaine Toups - bass, guitar, vocals (1990 onwards),
Edward Baluyut - guitar (1990-1991); drums (1992-1996, 2008 onwards),
Margaret White - violin, keyboards (2009 onwards),
Robert Hale - drums (1991-1992),
James Baluyut - guitar, keyboards (1995-2008),
Patrick Ramos - drums (1996-2008),
Versus has scheduled shows in 2010 with Polvo & Superchunk.
Versus drummer Edward Baluyut missed the August 13th, 2010 show in Toronto at Lee's Palace because he had to return home for the birth of his child. Paul Boddum of the opening band Soft Copy, played drums for the set.
The band have been chosen by Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel to perform at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival that he will curate in March 2012 in Minehead, England.
They played the third annual Hopscotch Music Festival in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA which took place September 6-8, 2012. They were joined onstage by Mac McCaughan of Superchunk for several Neutral Milk Hotel songs and by Kurt Wagner for a Lambchop song.