Urge Overkill's spectacular mid- 90s demise had detractors smirking. The trio's self-destruction by excess was seen as a fittingly ironic twist of fate for a band known for unabashedly celebrating wealth, fame and pomp well before they'd legitimately earned it.
The antithesis of Chicago's austere, serious independent music scene, they frequently drove to gigs in convertibles, garbed themselves in glittery velvet jackets and garish gold medallions, all while ingesting every substance in sight. Nash Kato, Eddie "King" Roeser and Blackie Onassis championed and lampooned rock regality clichés with humour rare in that gloomy alt-rock era.
"We were living a life of excess even before we got signed to a major label," recalls Roeser. "Once we got signed, we had the beans to really party out of control. We were drinking too much, and other drugs were involved.
"I think maybe we were a little bit ahead. It was all like Alice in Chains down in the dungeon at the time. Then look what happened with Weezer, who was on the same label; they were funny, and so we were just at the point when heavy rock could also have a sense of humour. "
After touring with Nirvana, they signed to the same label (Geffen) and released Saturation in 93. Two killer cuts, Sister Havana and Positive Bleeding, hoisted them famewards, but their major break was Quentin Tarantino's prominent use of their four-year-old Neil Diamond cover, Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon, in Pulp Fiction.
High expectations for their follow-up, Exit Dragon (1995), weren't met; rampant smack addiction, Onassis's in particular, strained the unit. Kato and Roeser barely spoke while making Exit, and a subsequent tour was cancelled. The house was on fire, and Roeser jumped out the window.
It took six years (and a few failed solo projects) for Kato and Roeser to get back on speaking terms. A steady flow of tour offers were coming in, so they made nice and hit the road.
"We initially left with a bad taste," adds Roeser, who says the new, harmonious (and Onassis-less) lineup is currently working on a new album.
"When a band goes wrong and there's a lot of pressure on you, it goes really wrong. You're on a major label, and they assume your follow-up is going to do a lot better than your first.
"We were on three different pages at that time. And that's just how the cards fell."