(1992-1994) The Wallflowers:
The band started in 1989 in Los Angeles's clubs. Their self-titled debut album was released in 1992 on the Virgin Records label. Although praised by critics, it only sold 40,000 copies initially, but has sold an estimated 1,000,000 to date.
The original members of the Wallflowers include Jakob Dylan (vocals and guitar), Barrie Maguire (bass guitar and vocals), Peter Yanowitz (drums and percussion), Rami Jaffee (keyboards and vocals), and Tobi Miller (guitar). This quintet broke up shortly after the album's release due to conflicts within the band, and with the record company.
Though they played venues all around Los Angeles, their favorite was the Kibitz room of Canter's Delicatessen, a legendary Los Angeles hangout, where they played every Tuesday night, along with other bands, such as the Los Angeles group The Freewheelers. They soon grabbed the attention of groups such as 10,000 Maniacs, The Spin Doctors, Cracker, and Toad the Wet Sprocket, each of which invited the Wallflowers to join them on tour.
The Wallflowers' sound is influenced by a variety of groups including bands such as Counting Crows, The Band, Bruce Springsteen, The Replacements, Elvis Costello, Tom Petty, and The Clash. Frontman Jakob Dylan said that the most influential album in his life is The Clash's London Calling: "They had something I could listen to that I wanted to associate."
(1996-1998) Bringing Down the Horse:
The band seemed quiet for a few years but stormed back on the scene with their 4x platinum 1996 release, Bringing Down the Horse, which comprised such hits as "6th Avenue Heartache" (with Adam Duritz of Counting Crows), "One Headlight" , "The Difference," and "Three Marlenas." The band switched record labels, from Virgin to Interscope. For this album, Dylan was joined only by Rami Jaffee from the original lineup. Michael Ward (guitar), Mario Calire (drums and percussion) and Greg Richling (bass guitar and vocals) were called in to form the new band. "One Headlight" peaked at #2 and "6th Avenue Heartache" peaked at #33 on the Billboard American Hot 100 Airplay charts. At the Grammy Awards of 1998, The Wallflowers walked away with two Grammys; one for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for "One Headlight," and Jakob Dylan was awarded Best Rock Song for writing "One Headlight." Bruce Springsteen joined the Wallflowers for a live performance of their song "One Headlight," at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards. "One Headlight" was the #1 video of the year for 1997 on VH1 and #5 on MTV.
The band toured extensively behind this album due to its continued success. The tour was extended during 1998 as the band had a hit song/video with a cover of David Bowie's "Heroes", which was the leadoff/featured track on the soundtrack to 1998's Godzilla. Godzilla The Album was also a hit, featuring new songs from Rage Against the Machine, Puff Daddy, and Ben Folds Five. This kept the band in the spotlight. They performed "Heroes" with a string section at the 1998 MTV Movie Awards.
Although the band was popular, many critics shrugged at the Wallflowers' laid-back ethos; Trouser Press writer Jason Reeher famously wrote that the band were "the Dire Straits of the Alternative Nation."
After almost four years, the Wallflowers continued work on their next album, (Breach), released October 10, 2000; the first single was "Sleepwalker," the video of which poked fun at Dylan's "rock star" status following the success of Bringing Down the Horse. "Sleepwalker" was followed by "Letters From the Wasteland", which was featured with Dylan in a commercial for Coca-Cola. The record was featured on MTV's First Listen show. The band also played Saturday Night Live, featuring the songs "Sleepwalker" and "Hand Me Down," the latter of which was one of the most talked about songs on the album. Many felt it was a direct statement about being Bob Dylan's son. (Breach) ends with a hidden track entitled "Babybird," often played in concert. Guests on the album included Elvis Costello, who lent vocals on "Murder 101." (Breach) peaked at #13 on the Billboard 200. The album was certified gold on September 21, 2001.
The band supported this album through tours with Tom Petty and John Mellencamp, as well as an extensive headlining tour. While on tour the Wallflowers covered Blur's "Song 2" and The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" regularly. Guitarist Michael Ward left the band following the tour, citing creative differences. The band has officially been a 4-piece ever since.
(2002-2003) Red Letter Days:
On November 5, 2002, The Wallflowers released their fourth studio album, Red Letter Days. Red Letter Days peaked at #32 on the Billboard 200. This was the first Wallflowers record that featured Jakob Dylan playing a majority of the lead guitar parts. The album had a much more aggressive sound than any of their previous releases, especially the song "Everybody Out of the Water," which they performed on The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn. The first single and only music video shot was for "When You're On Top." The single was a smash hit on AAA radio stations, but received little mainstream attention. Subsequent singles from the album include "Closer to You," and "How Good It Can Get" which received radio airplay across multiple formats. Some versions of the album featured an in-studio cover of "(What's So Funny About) Peace Love and Understanding."
The band was a part of many exclusive performances during promotion of the record, including a Live at the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame concert for MTV, and a special televised concert for VH1, Live at Alcatraz, being the first band to ever play a concert on the infamous island. They also played "When You're on Top" on Last Call with Carson Daly, and "How Good It Can Get" on The Late Show with David Letterman.
(2005-2006) Rebel, Sweetheart:
The band's most recent release, Rebel, Sweetheart was released on May 24th, 2005. This is the first Wallflowers record available as a DualDisc. The DVD, directed by American video director Jason B. Bergh, included interviews and exclusive performances and arrangements of many of the band's songs, including reworked versions of "One Headlight" and "6th Avenue Heartache" as well as an amusing band interview with comedian Jon Lovitz. Brendan O' Brien (Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Train) was called in to produce the record and played guitar as well. Fred Eltringham, the newest Wallflowers member, played drums. A video was filmed for their first single "The Beautiful Side of Somewhere" which hit #5 on AAA radio. The band played the song on several TV shows, including Live with Regis and Kelly and NBC's Summer Concert Series. The second single released was "God Says Nothing Back," which the band has said was their proudest moment. In promoting the record, The Wallflowers performed special televised concerts for the Oxygen Custom Concert Series on the Oxygen channel and were also featured on the PBS series Soundstage. Singer/songwriter Carole King was the special guest performer for the Oxygen concert.
In conjunction with the release of Rebel, Sweetheart the band released an exclusive iTunes Originals album for the iTunes music store. The album featured exclusive performances and interviews with Jakob Dylan. The band also volunteered to perform for sailors on the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis as the troops were returning to California. A crew member joined in on the band's cover of Sam Cooke's "Bring it on Home to Me," playing guitar.
Much to the dismay of longtime fans, The Wallflowers did not tour in 2006, although keyboardist Rami Jaffee toured with the Foo Fighters for their acoustic tour, and drummer Fred Eltringham worked with the Dixie Chicks. Jakob Dylan toured with T-Bone Burnett during Burnett's first tour in 20 years. Dylan played 40 minute solo opening sets for the tour. The two share a long history that extends further than just Burnett's impactful production work on Bringing Down the Horse.
The Wallflowers parted ways with record company Interscope in 2006. Jakob Dylan recorded a couple of solo songs in 2006, including "Here Comes Now", which was featured prominently in the television show Six Degrees.
Jakob Dylan performed John Lennon's song "Gimme Some Truth" with Dhani Harrison for the Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur CD.
On August 31, 2007 The Wallflowers announced that they would be touring for the first time in two years. The band played shows at clubs in the Northeast and Midwest United States in October and November 2007. In a late 2007 post on the band's website it was revealed that keyboardist Rami Jaffee left the band. Singer-songwriter Stuart Mathis joined the band as the lead guitarist for those shows.
In late April 2008, the Wallflowers played two shows. At these shows, for the first time ever, they appeared as a trio. Stuart Mathis, the guitarist from the fall of 2007 tour, was not present on these occasions. During the Summer of 2008, The Wallflowers played a number of festivals including the OC Fair, a balloon festival in South Carolina, Rock-Fest, and Deadwood Jam. At each of these shows, the Wallflowers were joined by multi-instrumentalist Ben Peeler.
Jakob Dylan released his first solo album Seeing Things on June 10, 2008.
Since then, Jakob Dylan has formed a touring band known as Jakob Dylan and The Gold Mountain Rebels. The band performed with Jakob on the Late Show with David Letterman on June 11, 2008. They also performed at the September 2008 Austin City Limits Music Festival in Austin, TX. They did a tour with Eric Clapton in Europe in August 2008 and opened for Willie Nelson in September 2008. In October 2008 they played their own shows in Germany, Amsterdam, and London. Jakob Dylan appeared on Jools Holland, a late night talk show in London, and performed "Evil is Alive and Well" and "Something Good This Way Comes" solo. This is the first television appearance that Jakob Dylan performed alone.