For Squirrels was a power-punk/grunge band from Florida. Their sole commercial album, Example, was a testament to their effort and their love of music for its own sake, but their sense of fun really shines through too.
"We always said we'd play music for squirrels." - singer Jack Vigliatura, describing the origin of the band's name.
The four members of For Squirrels, Jack Vigliatura, Bill White, Jack Griego and Michael Tooke grew up together in Clearwater, Florida, and after graduating high school went on to the University of Florida at Gainesville. After Bill and Travis picked up a couple of guitars at a pawn shop, they began playing together casually, usually just late night jam sessions.
"We would mess around for hours in the dorm--order in food and have all-night sessions 'til five in the morning. We'd fool around and write songs about basketball or something, but occasionally a real song would pop up." - Jack Vigliatura
Like many aspiring musicians living in college towns, they decided to start playing open mic night at some of the bars in town, although just for fun.
"We were 80% schtick, 20% music. I played most of the shows sitting down while wearing a kayak crash helmet." - bassist Bill White.
"We definitely were more of a comedy act than a musical talent. At our first show we did a hokey folk version of LL Cool J's 'Mama Said Knock You Out.'" - Jack Vigliatura.
After playing these open mic nights for quite a while, they came to decide that they had to take their music more seriously. After recruiting drummer Jack Griego, they sank their student loan money ("broke our parents' hearts," Jack admits) into recording a CD at the not-so-small cost of $6,000, and they began touring the Florida club circuit.
Still, much change was yet to come. On one date in 1994, the band was opening for a particularly good band, and went out and played a particularly horrible set. They realized at this point they had to either get their act together or give it up. They decided to take the latter option, and took some time off to practice and further develop their work.
"Instead of just playing through songs, we took them apart and worked on various parts until we got it right. We really came together as a band during that time." - drummer Jack Griego
The effort apparently paid off, because by January, For Squirrels was signed to the recording label Sony 550 Music. By May, they had begun recording Example (at Compass Point with Nick Launay and at Criteria Studios in Miami).
At this point, it is necessary to mention the accident of September 1995. I've tried to explain to people about the accident before and but their official bio says it in such a formal and yet elegant way I can't improve on it, so I will quote it here:
On the afternoon of September 8, 1995, the members of Sony 550 Music recording group For Squirrels and their tour manager were en route home to Florida following a showcase performance the previous night at C.B.G.B. in New York. Their van was traveling on Interstate 95, approximately 50 miles south of Savannah, Georgia, when a tire blew out and the vehicle overturned. Singer Jack Vigliatura (21), bassist Bill White (23), and tour manager Tim Bender (23) all died at the scene, according to the Georgia State Patrol. Drummer Jack Griego (28) suffered multiple injuries, including broken vertebrae; he is recuperating following successful surgery at Memorial Medical Center in Savannah. Guitarist Travis Michael Tooke (23) suffered a broken elbow, bruises and lacerations; he was released after being treated at Liberty Memorial Hospital in Hinesville, GA. Funeral services for Jack Vigliatura and Bill White were held September 13 in Palm Harbor, Florida; on the same day, a service for Tim Bender was held in Cary, North Carolina.
After Jack and Travis had recovered from the accident (physically anyway), they decided to go ahead with the release of Example and to carry on as a band. Extensive radio and video play for the track "Mighty KC" helped the album sell over 100,000 copies.
In 1996, Jack and Travis recruited Andy Lord to be the new bassist, and Travis took the role of lead vocalist. This group of musicians began to put together new material, and because the nature of the band had changed so much, they decided to change the name, and decided to call themselves Subrosa. Their album, Never Bet The Devil Your Head, was released July 1997 on Sony 550 Music.
"In September 8, 1995, I lost my three best friends. Jack and I lost our band. Jack, Andy, and I lost a piece of ourselves that will always be treasured but never regained. When something dies, two things happen: The spirit moves on, and the body stays. For Squirrels has died and moved on to bliss; the body remains. In medieval times, knights brought to the brink of death, consumed under oath, could be reborn under a new oath - an oath to the death for their cause, their loyalty, their integrity. This was called an oath under the rose, their private crusade to a new life, a new meaning: Subrosa." - Travis Tooke
Example was For Squirrels' first commercial album. It is not the greatest recording ever, and I will neither lie nor even exaggerate in some misguided attempt to honor the dead by doing so.
However it has some songs which are very good (8:02 pm, The Immortal Dog and Pony Show, orangeworker) and one song that is, in my opinion, amazing (Mighty KC), and I would feel comfortable recommending it to anyone who is a fan of either punk or grunge music, or both.