Letters To Cleo is:
- Scott Riebling - bass
- Kay Hanley - sings
- Michael Eisenstein - guitar
- Greg McKenna - guitar
- Stacy Jones / Tom Polce - drums see below
Letters To Cleo started out as a band called Rebecca Lulu, of which McKenna and Hanley were a part of. The band eventually parted ways, but the pair started a new band, incorporating Eisenstein, McKenna, and Jones from other Boston bands into their own. Originally started as a ska band, they quickly changed their sound towards pop rock. LTC gets their name from a pen pal that lead singer Kay Hanley used to write to when she was a child. When looking through old stuff, Kay found a box marked 'Letters To Cleo', and the rest is history. (Curious side note: Before Boston College got borged and renamed it mail1, the student mail server was called Cleo, because any mail sent to B.C. would be "Letters to Cleo").
The group first recorded Sister, a seven song tape-only EP, in 1991 and sold for six bucks a piece at their concerts. The group soon recorded a new album Aurora Gory Alice at Q Division with Mike Denneen, that was released on the CherryDisc label, and later by Giant. The Giant version of Aurora features new versions of Here & Now and I See. After their hit Here & Now was included on the Melrose Place soundtrack, Letters To Cleo struggled to escape the label of being a soundtrack band.
In 1995, the group released Wholesale Meats & Fish, a much louder, but more refined album. They scored a minor MTV hit with Awake, but the album did not sell very well. Stacy Jones left the band to join Veruca Salt.
Tom Polce was brought in to replace Jones, and Giant merged/was bought out by Revolution Records. Revolution ignored the Cleos, doing a terrible job promoting LTC's 1997 album, "Go!", despite the fact that the album was the most ambitious and most critically acclaimed of the major three. After a number of fights, it appears that LTC has left Revolution.
More recent times have been better for the Cleos. Wicked Disc re-released Sister with several bonus tracks from previous recordings, including the band's cover of Fleetwood Mac's Dreams. Kay and Michael got married and had a child, Zoe, and the band played a number of Lilith Fair dates. The band has semi-officially called it quits, but has recorded songs for the cartoon Molly-O. Kay and Michael have also worked on some acoustic stuff, the rest of the band helped work on Nina Gordon's solo album, and in August of 2002 Kay released her first solo album, Cherry Marmalade.
LTC has toured with Everclear and Our Lady Peace. I've seen them play with The Roots, The Bogmen, Jennifer Trynin, Fuzzy, and a few others I can't really remember. The LTC live show is full of energy. I've never seen the Cleos mail one in, and they'll always throw something unexpected in (like Loverboy's "Working For The Weekend"). The band also enjoys their fans - they mingle with the crowd before and after the show, and just seem to love being loved.
They sound somewhat like Belly, Juliana Hatfield, or Veruca Salt, but the closest comparison I've found is Moonpools & Caterpillars. An LTC fan site describes their music as "Personal lyrics that are generic enough to relate to, catchy indie-rock guitar riffs, beautiful vocals, and tight, well-constructed songs that will play themselves in your head long after you’ve hit the stop button." Hanley calls the band a "happy loser pop band."
Their contemporaries are the typical Boston bands: Hatfield, Tracy Bonham, Buffalo Tom, etc., as well as Veruca Salt. They've definitely been influenced by The Cars - Cars keyboardist Greg Hawkes guest spotted on their last album and has played with them live - they've added more keyboards with each new album.
Maybe the best story about Letters To Cleo involves, of all people, Peter Gammons. Besides being the best baseball columnist on Earth, Gammons is a huge fan of modern rock. He took the Cleos on a tour of Riverfront Stadium (home of the Cincinnati Reds at the time). At one point, Gammons suggested that they could all go into the clubhouse and meet Ray Knight, the manager of the Reds. Kay (favorite food: pickles... I had to get that in there somewhere) didn't want to. When Gammons asked her why, she said, "I'm sure he's a very nice man, but he's the one that scored the winning run when the ball went through Bill Buckner's legs."
Sister (1991) - self-released
- I See
- Pete Beat
- He's Staying
- Clear Blue Water
- Never Tell
Aurora Gory Alice (1993) - Released by CherryDisc and Giant
- Big Star
- I See
- Rim Shak
- Get On With It
- Here & Now
- From Under The Dust
- Mellie's Coming Over
- Come Around
- Step Back
Wholesale Meats & Fish (1995) - Released by Giant
- Demon Rock
- Fast Way
- Acid Jed
- Pizza Cutter
- St. Peter
- Little Rosa
- Do What You Want (Yeah)
- He's Got An Answer
- I Could Sleep (The Wuss Song)
Go! (1997) - Released by Revolution
- I Got Time
- Because Of You
- Find You Dead
- Veda Very Shining
- Alouette & Me
- I'm A Fool
- You Dirty Rat (from the Safe & Sound Benefit Album)
- Green Eggs & Ham (from the Crush Boston Compilation)
- Dreams (from the Spirit of 76 Compilation)
- Secret Agent
Note: Above four are available on the "Sister" re-release
- Let's Get High (from Hempilation 2 - Free The Weed)
- Happy Ever After (Bonus Track from the Japanese "Go!" release)
- Dangerous Type (from "The Craft" Soundtrack)
- Come On (from "10 Things I Hate About You", available only at the band's website)
- Cruel To Be Kind (from the "10 Things" Soundtrack)
- I Want You To Want Me (from the "10 Things" Soundtrack)