Letters to Cleo is an alternative rock band from Boston, Massachusetts perhaps best known for the 1993 single "Here & Now" from their full-length debut album Aurora Gory Alice. The band was made up of members Michael Eisenstein, Kay Hanley, Stacy Jones, Greg McKenna, Scott Riebling, and later, Tom Polce. The band disbanded in 2000, although it recently reunited for a small tour, and possibly a new album.
Letters to Cleo was formed in 1990 by Dorchester, MA natives, guitarist Greg McKenna and singer Kay Hanley, when they changed from their former band name, Rebbecca Lula. The band had a rotating list of guest players filling various positions including Abe Laboriel, Jr. who did a short stint on the drums in 1993. Its definitive lineup of Hanley, McKenna, "USA" Mike Eisenstein on guitar, Stacy Jones on drums and Scott Riebling on bass, was established in 1994. Their name came from the fact that Hanley had a pen pal named Cleo when she was younger, although the letters she wrote would often be returned. Hanley kept them in a box under her bed marked "Letters to Cleo", and came across the box as the band was attempting to think of a name for itself.
After years on the Boston club circuit, including TT The Bears Place and The Rathskellar, LtC released their first full length record, Aurora Gory Alice on CherryDisc Records in 1993. The album received extensive airplay around the New England region and after a much hyped show at South by Southwest in Austin, Letters to Cleo signed a major label record deal with Giant Records, a Warner Brothers subsidiary, and Aurora Gory Alice was re-released worldwide.
The band had their first big hit single with "Here & Now," which received wide exposure from its appearance on the Melrose Place soundtrack. The song reached #10 on the Billboard Modern Rock Singles chart. Appearances on Conan O'Brien and Jon Stewart followed.
In 1995, Letters to Cleo released a followup album, Wholesale Meats and Fish. Its release was followed by extensive tours with Our Lady Peace, Sponge, Neds Atomic Dustbin and others. The single "Awake" achieved moderate rotation on alternative radio. The band also recorded a cover of The Cars song "Dangerous Type" for the major motion picture The Craft.
In 1997, Stacy Jones left the band to join Veruca Salt and was replaced by Tom Polce. That same year, LTC's third album "Go" was released. After a short tour, Polce left the band and was replaced by drummer Jason Sutter. In late 1997, Letters to Cleo parted ways with their record label Giant/Revolution.
1998 saw the release of some early demos and B-sides in the form of the "Sister" EP on Wicked Disc.
Letters to Cleo appeared in the film 10 Things I Hate about You in 1999 (one of the characters considers them a favorite band). They contributed four songs to the soundtrack for the film, which included a Cheap Trick cover (I Want You to Want Me), and a Nick Lowe & Ian Gomm cover (Cruel to Be Kind). Also included were two original tracks, "Come On", and the beginning of "Co-Pilot" (which can be heard at the end of the scene of their performance at a local club). Whereas the covers appeared on the film's soundtrack, "Come On" did not but was released as an MP3 download on the Band's website. "Co-Pilot" was also not on the film's soundtrack, but it does appear on Letters To Cleo's album "Go".
During that same year, LTC opened for Cheap Trick at The Paradise club in Boston.
The band played its last show on May 4, 2000, a benefit for their friend and longtime local supporter, Mikey D. They announced their disbandment in the Boston Globe the following month.
In December 2007, an impromptu reunion occurred when 4 of the original band members got on stage at a benefit for longtime supporter, Jeanne Connolly at TT the Bears Place in Cambridge Massachusetts. The event spurred the members to re-unite officially for a series of shows a year later in Los Angeles, Boston and NYC. More dates followed in 2009 with shows in New Orleans, Dallas Houstin, and Austin. Bassist Scott Reibling did not participate in these shows but gave his blessing. Longtime band friend, Joe Klompus replaced Reibling.
As of July 2009, the band members have returned to their own projects. Possible future LtC reunion shows have been hinted at but nothing is planned for the foreseeable future.
Solo careers etc
Most of the band members are now involved in solo careers. Most notable is Kay Hanley's career, which produced the albums Cherry Marmalade in 2002, the The Babydoll EP in 2004, and Weaponize in 2008. Kay has also been involved with Disney on several children's projects including the new Strawberry Shortcake.
"USA" Michael Eisenstein has been performing session and touring work for many artists including Our Lady Peace and Lisa Loeb. He is currently producing and engineering.
Kay and Michael married in the late 90's and have 2 children. They reside in Los Angeles, CA.
Drummer Stacy Jones went on to form American Hi-Fi with fellow Boston musicians Drew Parsons, Jamie Arentzen and Brian Nolan. Stacy has also been producing work for up and coming artists including The Plain White Ts and The Modern Society. He is currently the music director for the Miley Cyrus touring band. Stacy also resides in Los Angeles.
Scott Riebling went into the production side of music and is now a well regarded producer and engineer and has produced work for The Von Bondies, Cobra Starship and Fall Out Boy. Scott resides in Massachusetts
Co-founding member Greg McKenna is currently playing live with his solo project, Murder Capitol of the World. The debut album, "Saint Judes Revenge" was released in the summer of 2007. Greg resides in Dorchester, MA.
Tom Polce played with several prominent Boston based bands and is now a producer and engineer. He lives in California.
Kay Hanley - vocals
Greg McKenna - guitar, backing vocals
Michael Eisenstein - guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Scott Riebling - bass, backing vocals
Stacy Jones - drums
Tom Polce - drums
Aurora Gory Alice
Wholesale Meats and Fish
When Did We Do That?1
Sister was originally an independently released, seven-song E.P. released in 1991, before the band signed to a record label. After they were dropped by Warner in 1997, Sister was rereleased with four bonus tracks and marketed as a brand new album. When Did We Do That? is also an independent collection of b-sides and rarities.
Modern Rock Tracks
Hot 100 Airplay
Hot 100 Singles Sales
Top 40 Mainstream
Here & Now/Rim Shack
Aurora Gory Alice
Here & Now
Wholesale Meats and Fish
The Craft OST
The Giant Records re-release of "Aurora Gory Alice" contains different versions of the songs "Here & Now" and "Rim Shak" than the original CherryDisc release.
Matthew Sweet stepped in as guest bass player for LTC during the recording of the 10 Things I Hate About You soundtrack.
Letters to Cleo recorded the theme song and music for the short lived animated series Generation O.
Their video of "Here and Now" was featured in the Beavis and Butt-head cartoon "Beavis, Can You Spare A Dime" on MTV in 1995.
"Josie & The Pussycats" Original Soundtrack-Play-Tone/Epic/Sony Music Soundtrax EK 85683 Voice of Josie: Kay Hanley on the 11 Josie & The Pussycat's songs (2001)
Scott Riebling played bass for Weezer on the single version of "Pink Triangle."
The band is identified as the favorite of Katarina Stratford in the film 10 Things I Hate About You
The band often considered changing its name to Rula Lenska, after the famous actress.
Guitarist Mike Eisenstein is extremely patriotic; he is know to friends and family as "U-S-A Mike."
List of alternative music artists