Tom Maxwell Leaves Squirrel Nut Zippers

After six years with Squirrel Nut Zippers, singer-songwriter Tom Maxwell has decided to leave the band in order to pursue a solo career.

A representative for the Zippers told MTV News that the group plans to continue on without Maxwell, who sang lead vocals on the band's biggest hit to date, "Hell," from its 1996 LP, "Hot."

The remaining Squirrel Nut Zippers will head into a studio in October to start recording its new album, the follow-up to 1998's Yuletide collection, "Christmas Caravan."

In a statement announcing his departure to fans, Maxwell wrote: "I can say in all honesty that I left the band with an open heart, harboring neither ill-will or resentment. Basically, all things must pass and it was time to go... In my letter to my bandmates I said that who I am as a musician is a result of the Squirrel Nut Zippers... In the future, I will continue to hold myself to the high musical standard set by the [band]."

No word yet on when Maxwell plans to deliver a solo

record or with whom he might work with, although the Zippers' Ken Mosher wrote on the band's official Web site that he would "continue to work with [Tom] if he needs me."

Maxwell, Mosher, and the Zippers' Je Widenhouse had just completed a road stint as backing musicians for Ben Folds Five's summer tour when Maxwell made his decision to leave the Zippers.