Celebrating his 35th birthday today is Vinnie Dombroski, lead singer for Detroit, Mich.-
based alt-rockers Sponge. Vinnie and the boys made their debut on the scene
with Rotting Piñata in late 1995, injecting a little bit of glam-rock flavor
into the predominant Seattle grunge sound made popular by such groups as
Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. Sponge's roots go back to the late '80s,
when birthday boy Dombroski played drums in a Helmet-esque group called
Loudhouse with future Sponge members Mike Cross on guitar and Tim Cross
on bass. Loudhouse signed with Virgin in the early '90s, but were dropped after
just one album. Dombroski and the brothers Cross split with Loudhouse's
remaining members and formed Sponge, with Dombroski pulling a Phil Collins
and moving from behind the drum kit to behind the lead singer's mic. The group
brought in Joey Mazzola, another veteran of the Detroit scene, on guitar and
Jimmy Paluzzi on drums and began recording new demos in late 1992.
By October of 1993, the group set about recording Rotting Piñata and
signed with Columbia in December of that year. Their debut album came out in
1995 and "Molly (Sixteen Candles)" made a quick impression on alternative
radio and in MTV's Buzz Bin. Later that year, Paluzzi left the band and was
replaced by drummer Charlie Grover. The group tirelessly toured in support of
the album and released a follow-up entitled Wax Ecstatic in 1996.
Sponge played with a bevy of other up-and-coming alternative rock acts as part
of the Skoal-sponsored R.O.A.R. (Revelation of Alternative Rhythms) tour this
summer. On July 6, in Tulsa, Okla., Dombroski was arrested and fined for using
foul language onstage. The venue had warned artists on the R.O.A.R. tour
numerous times that performers would be fined $500 for each profanity spoken
from the stage, although Sponge claim to have been absent when this
announcement was made. Dombroski's fines totaled $5700 ... you do the math.
He intends to contest the charges. The group has just entered a New York
studio to record its third album, which is expected to be released in the spring of
Other birthdays: Freddy Cannon, 58; Chris Hillman (Byrds/Flying Burrito
Brothers/Desert Rose Band/McGuinn Clark & Hillman), 55; Terry Woods (The
Pogues), 50; Southside Johnny (The Asbury Jukes), 49; Gary Rossington
(Lynyrd Skynyrd/Rossington-Collins Band), 46; and Bob Griffin (BoDeans), 38.