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Australia's heavy psychedelic rockers Tumbleweed mashed a set of acid-drenched, hippie influences with hard-rocking guitar sounds straight out of the '70s.
It was a perfect blend to enable them to catch the grunge wave -- at their peak they supported Nirvana on the band's sole Australian tour. Formed in the town of Wollongong, Tumbleweed were initially called the Proton Energy Pills after the TV series Roger Ramjet. When they were signed by indie label Waterfront, they were convinced to ditch their original lead singer, Dave Curley, and they changed their name to reflect the change in lineup. Drummer Richard Lewis took over on vocals and Steve O'Brien was added on drums, while the rest of the lineup -- Paul Hausmeister on guitar and Dave's brothers Lenny and Jay Curley on guitar and bass, respectively -- remained the same.
Waterfront succeeded in hiring Mudhoney frontman (and alleged coiner of the word "grunge") Mark Arm to produce a single for them and also got them signed to Atlantic for American distribution. Atlantic compiled their early material into an album called Weedseed and paid for the band's first tour of England and the U.S., as well as two videos and the recording of their first album proper. Forced to rush things for the sake of the label, they admitted to being unhappy with the album, 1992's Tumbleweed, though it debuted at number 39 on the Australian charts and earned them the coveted spot supporting Nirvana. Atlantic didn't like the album either, and refused to release it overseas.
After Tumbleweed lost their first manager, who had argued with Hausmeister and O'Brien, the Polydor label bought them out of their contract with Waterfront. With Polydor they recorded the Galactaphonic album in 1995, which did even better than their self-titled release, debuting at number six. Atlantic still wasn't impressed enough to give it a wider release, however, and Tumbleweed's new manager had to travel to New York to convince the label to drop them so they could find a more agreeable distributor. In 1996 the argumentative Hausmeister and O'Brien were kicked out by the other bandmembers and replaced by Dave Achille on guitar and Nik Rieth on drums for the Return to Earth album. Afterwards, bassist Jay Curley was also asked to leave and replaced by Phil Lally for their final album, 2000's Mumbo Jumbo. ~ Jody Macgregor, Rovi


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