You Say It's Your Birthday: Vinnie Dombroski of Sponge

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

next year.

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.