90s alt-rockers Fuel and Sponge team up
to rock BMI Speedway

Fuel frontman Brett Scallions leaving it all on the stage.

By Justin Kreitzer

Nostalgia for the 90s is in full effect at BMI Speedway this weekend with hard-rocking alternative bands Fuel and Sponge set to bring their hits to the stage in Versailles on Saturday April 21. The Piqua-based rock band Come Hell Or High Water will also appear as the local opening act.       

Headlining the show is Pennsylvania alt-rock band Fuel, who emerged post-grunge with a sound that fused alternative and hard rock into a powerful and poppy hybrid on their 1998 debut album, Sunburn, which featured smash singles such as “Shimmer” and “Bittersweet.” They maintained their mainstream success into the new millennium with the singles “Bad Day” and “Hemorrhage (In My Hands)” from their 2000 album Something Like Human, and “Falls On Me” from their 2003 album, Natural Selection. After leaving the band in 2006, front man Brett Scallions re-formed Fuel with a new lineup in 2010, and last released an album, Puppet Strings in 2014. 

Supporting Fuel is the gritty and glam rock-inspired alternative band Sponge, who call “Detroit Rock City” their home. In 1994, they took over the airwaves with two massive singles, “Plowed” and “Molly (16 Candles)” from their platinum major label debut album, Rotting Piñata. Since then, the band—currently led by the only remaining original member, front man Vinnie Dombroski—last released an album in 2016 that was funded in part by a successful crowd-funding campaign.     

In anticipation of this exciting live pairing, the Dayton City Paper spoke with Brett Scallions of Fuel about musical longevity, the possibility of a proper Fuel reunion
and more.

Dayton City Paper: You are currently touring in celebration of your debut album’s 20th anniversary. That is quite an accomplishment! What has “fueled” Fuel for all of
these years?

Brett Scallions: I love what I do! When you are having fun, it translates. Fans know they are going to have fun when they see us perform. Plus, [our] music is growing to
become timeless.

DCP: The opening track from your debut album, Sunburn—with its hard-charging riffs and soaring, sing-along chorus—gave a great first impression of your band, and it sounds like a fun one to play live. What is your favorite song to play live and why?

BS:  After 20 years, all of these songs have their moment of being a personal favorite to play. Sometimes it just depends on the mood I’m in.

DCP: Your last album, Puppet Strings, was released over four years ago. Do you have plans to release any new music soon? If so, where are you in that process?

BS: We are in the writing process. Maybe we will have a couple of new songs this year.

DCP: You will be playing with Sponge. How did that come together and what song of theirs are you looking forward to hearing them play? 

BS: I love Sponge! Their whole catalog is great. And the hits! “Wax Ecstatic” rips my head off. 

DCP: In the spirit of Fuel’s 20th anniversary, is there any chance of a true reunion with the other original members—guitarist/songwriter Jeff Abercrombie and bassist Carl Bell?

BS: I’ve learned to never say never.

Additionally, the Dayton City Paper spoke with Vinnie Dombroski of Sponge about fan loyalty, their new music and more.

DCP: “Nena Menasha,” with its killer, heavy riff is one of my favorite Sponge songs.  Besides the great fan response you get from playing your hits like “Plowed” and “Molly,” what’s a favorite to play for the fans?

Vinnie Dombroski: I’m diggin’ “Nena Menasha” these days, too!  I would have to say singing David Bowie’s “Life On Mars” (we are doing this thing called “Under The Influence,” where we perform songs by artists that influenced us), or a song from our new album, “The Beer Sessions” called “The Whores Are Closing In.”

DCP: Your last album was just released in 2016. Is there other new material can we look forward to?

VD: Yes…but not a full album, just singles and videos. The songs are written. We just have to record them. 

DCP: Nostalgia for the 90s is high right now, but Sponge’s die-hard fans have stuck with you over the years and even helped you fund the release of your last album. What does that kind of fan loyalty mean to you after all these years?

VD: The 90s were an amazing time for music! The 90s bands made music that endured. We’re lucky enough to be one of those bands and the fans make it all possible. That’s what keeps us rollin’ down the road.

Fuel and Sponge will play Saturday, April 21 at BMI Speedway, 791 E. Main St. in Versailles. The doors open at 5 p.m. and show time is 6:30 p.m. For tickets or more information, please call 937.526.9544, or visit bmikarts.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Justin Kreitzer at JustinKreitzer@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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