Throneberry played their first show on Valentine's Day, 1990, an appropriately ironic beginning for this Cincinnati-based band. Their debut album, Sangría, on Alias Records, is a pretty, melodic outpouring of heartfelt sour notes and lighter-than-air rhythms chasing something sinister and scary underneath.

“Our emphasis is not on rocking,” says singer/guitarist Jason Arbenz. “We can't out-rock [other bands], so we try to out-write them. It's a balance between edge and substance.”

Around the end of '92 Afghan Whig Greg Dulli asked to produce the band and the demo led to a contract with Alias. “We may have been a little more anxious than we should have been,” says Arbenz. “But the contract got as good as it was going to get so we went for it.”

“Touched,” the first single and the beautiful, demented glory of the Dulli-produced album, is an insightful stab from a split mind that knows where things hit you and how hard they can. Still, Arbenz says that the album might not be the right representation of the band.

“We felt like that's what we could do that a lot of people couldn't,” he says. “Punk-rockers think we're wussies; but then I've never embraced minimal-effort rockin'. The stuff I like is melodic, pretty and smart. With us you just have to wait a little for the rockin' parts.”

Like a spilled bottle of cheap wine, Throneberry flows in an enticingly depressing and intuitive way. A mood has been set. Buy more wine, smoke a cigarette and sing at the top of your raspy voice, “The seas don't part anymore...”

By The Billy Keaggy | Originally published in insideOUT Magazine, Spring 1994i am