After Tonic scored platinum albums, a pair of Grammy nominations and several hit singles–including “If You Could Only See,” the most-played rock radio song of 1997–the Modern Rockers went on hiatus in 2004. This summer, however, Tonic returns, first with a tour and then this fall with its first new album in seven years. Emerson Hart reflects, “When we play music together it feels like going home.”
In anticipation, the group’s first retrospective, A Casual Affair: The Best Of Tonic (Polydor/UMe), released June 23, 2009, revisits the enormously popular band that blended the raw honesty of rock with unabashed pop appeal, killer melodies with revved-up guitar heroics. Featuring 12 selections from Tonic’s three albums, plus a trio of previously unreleased bonus tracks, A Casual Affair: The Best Of Tonic provides a refresher for today’s musical malaise.
Founded in 1993 by two childhood friends, lead singer Emerson Hart and guitarist Jeff Russo, the band exploded onto the scene with a sensational debut album, 1996’s Lemon Parade, produced by Jack Joseph Puig (The Black Crowes). “If You Could Only See” hit #1 Mainstream Rock and Modern Rock. Also boosted by two other Top 10 Mainstream Rock hits, “Open Up Your Eyes” and “Casual Affair”, Lemon Parade went platinum. A Casual Affair: The Best Of Tonic additionally includes the album’s title track and “Soldier’s Daughter.”
With Dan Lavery enlisted on bass and now officially a three-piece, the band issued their self-produced second disc Sugar in 1999. The single “You Wanted More,” initially heard on the soundtrack to the seminal teen flick American Pie, cracked the Mainstream and Modern Rock Top 10s while “Knock Down Walls” peaked in the Top 20 Mainstream Rock. A Casual Affair: The Best Of Tonic adds the album’s title track and “Mean To Me.”
2002’s Head On Straight, produced by Bob Rock (Metallica, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith), featured “Take Me As I Am,” “Count On Me” and “Irish,” and earned two Grammy nominations–for Best Rock Album and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for “Take Me As I Am.”
The previously unreleased bonus tracks on A Casual Affair: The Best Of Tonic are a live version of their cut “Irish,” an acoustic take on “You Wanted More” and their live rendition of “Sugar.”
In 2005, after nearly a decade together, the band members decided to go their separate ways. Hart released his successful solo debut, Cigarettes & Gasoline, Russo recorded with the Low Stars and scored TV series (including “Crossing Jordan,” and “The Unusuals”), and Lavery recorded/toured with The Fray, among others.
With A Casual Affair: The Best Of Tonic and the band reunited, Tonic’s meaningful relationship with its fans continues. Dan Lavery says, “It seems serendipitous to have started playing together again just as this “Best of” collection is about to come out. But also, while a retrospective can be gratifying, it also inspires us to create something new.” Catch the band on the road this year as they play throughout the country both solo and with the Gin Blossoms!