now | then | babadebaba

A Brief History of Flea

(Eric's unbiased and wholly accurate account of Flea history...)

ATOMIC FLEA has been around since 1996 and has understandably seen many twists and turns along the winding road.

One of the original founders, drummer Bill Rhomberg (the band's fourth Notre Dame alum) will always be closely connected with the Flea sound. Bill's driving rock drums can be heard on the first three Flea CDs. Bill and I began writing originals back in college as early as 1991. We always wanted to start an original band post-school, and when Mike and I began writing songs here in Minneapolis, it was only a matter of time before Bill landed a job in the Twin Cities (TC) and things got rolling. Bill played with the band from its inception through 2004, when work and family finally led him back to Iowa. But he still road-tripped up to lay down spectacular tracks for Flea's third album, Babadebaba, recorded at Crazy Beast Studio.

While John was the original bassist, a grad school exchange took him to Australia, leaving Flea in need of a new face to step in on the low end. Enter Nick Griffin, TC cover band veteran and connection through Mike's brief stint in the local musical pit band circuit. Nick brought a funk-flavored style that crackles through all the tracks on Flea's first release, Counter-revolution, recorded at Gark Studio in Southeast Minneapolis.Nick played with the group from 1997 - 2000.

By this point, John was back from down under and promptly picked up where he left off. With John's return came Flea's second album, The Means, recorded entirely in our home studio, and a successful side venture as a tribute act called Meet The Fleatles -- a 3 hr show of Beatles and Monkees classics including action-figure giveaways, singalongs, and several uniquely Flea-ish takes on some brit-pop standards. Fleatles saw us open for the likes of Tim Mahoney, Martin Zellar, and The Red Elvises.

As Babadebaba moved towards completion, it became clear that the band needed a new drummer to return to the gigging scene and promote the new record. So, early in the winter of 2008, in the dim light of the St Paul Chatterbox, Becky Hanson (formerly the drummer of The Turns) joined on as Flea's second drummer. Becky's tenure included a fundraiser gig for Al Flanken's Senate campaign, a huge benefit for Children's Hearlink at The Fine Line, and the multimedia spectacle that was the Babadebaba CD Release Show in July of 2008 at the Bryant Lake Bowl. Becky also backed the band for its TV Appearance on Kare-11's Showcase Minnesota.

Becky stepped down as Flea drummer in September '08. After careful deliberation and a couple of beers, we decided to forge ahead as an acoustic act, bringing in Dawn as a full-time member. Speaking personally, it seems like the fun with Flea never stops, and now I don't even have to carry an amp!