I wrote the following article for Youthquake magazine in 2004, but it still retains its sugary-sweet goodness.
And In The End…
For fans, the end came suddenly. The San Francisco Chronicle reported in February 1994 that the band was writing songs for its next album. Then, three months later, word came of the band’s demise, citing “creative differences.” As with any breakup, there are 10 different stories as to what happened; getting a synthesis is difficult, but one could surmise that personality conflicts between Sturmer and Manning arose, and the songwriting process seemed broken. They both went into the studio to record “Think About Your Troubles” for a Harry Nilsson tribute album, and that was it. Apparently, the two former friends haven’t said a word to each other since. The second coming of Lennon and McCartney had, like their mentors, split in a huff. The band members did move on to other things:
- After leaving Jellyfish, Chris Manning was in a band called Honey, which broke up in 1996. He is now a producer and engineer in San Francisco and has worked with such artists as Santana, Metallica and Third Eye Blind.
- Jason Falkner, free from being the odd man out, chose yet another band for his next project. The Grays, a collection of musicians from other bands who didn’t like being in bands, released “Ro Sham Bo” in 1994. Then they broke up, because they didn’t like being in bands. Since then, Falkner has released several solo albums and counts many in the Jellyfish faithful among his fans.
- Roger Manning, like Paul McCartney, has kept himself busy after the breakup but has found limited success. He and Eric Dover formed the power pop band Imperial Drag and released one album. Manning was also the creative force behind the Moog Cookbook, which played popular hard rock tunes (“Black Hole Sun,” “Cat Scratch Fever”) on Moog synthesizers. In 2006, Manning and Falkner joined forces in a new-wave retro group called TV Eyes and released a debut album in Japan. He has released two solo albums and has also been a member of Beck’s backing band.
- Tim Smith formed Umajets with former Hollyfaith member Rob Aldridge and released a few albums that sound like lost Jellyfish albums. He is probably best known as Sheryl Crow’s bass guitarist.
- Finally, Andy Sturmer has all but disappeared. He got married, wrote some songs and produced a Jelly-like album by Sweden’s the Merrymakers. On the other side of the world, he produced and played on several releases by the Japanese group Puffy AmiYumi. Lately his name has popped up as the composer of the themes to several children’s shows, most notably “My Friends Tigger and Pooh” on the Disney Channel. Numerous Sturmer demos have surfaced, as have rumors of a solo album. But he has spent his post-Jellyfish years lurking in the shadows. There have never been any rumors of a Jellyfish reunion.
So you would think that yet another band had come and gone, all but forgotten. Wrong. The band had developed a small but fanatic following worldwide. The “Jellyfish Army,” as they called themselves, continue to flourish a decade after the band split in discussion groups and among the group’s side projects. They clamored for more Jellyfish material, and a box set called “Fan Club” was released in 2002, consisting of demos, live recordings and unreleased songs. (A box set! That’s only reserved for rock legends such as Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin.)
Andy Zax’s liner notes for “Fan Club” include a fitting epitaph:
For now – and let’s face it, forever – we’ve got two albums and this box of demos, one-off covers, forgotten songs and interview bits … And that’ll have to do, really. Listening to the four discs at hand reminds me of a lot of things, but mostly of how hard Jellyfish worked, how they always tried to get the details right, how completely unwilling they were to settle for anything less than the best they knew they were capable of.
Maybe that hard work will not be forgotten. Maybe a future pop group will be asked about their influences, and they will point to Jellyfish, and the group will have their place in music history alongside their idols. Who knows? Maybe we’ll hear “Joining a Fan Club” in a Volkswagen commercial one day.
For more information on Jellyfish, visit Adam Gimbel’s excellent Joining a Fanpage site.