Absorb the Rock and Roll Sounds of Sponge

By: Toni Cunningham | December 9, 2012
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Alternative rock band Sponge is no stranger to the music scene. The Detroit-native rockers have been doing what they love most—making music—for over 20 years.

The band, composed of Vin Dombroski (vocals), Andy Patalan (guitar and vocals), Kyle Neely (guitar), Tim Patalan (bass), and Billy Adams (drums), has released seven albums since it was founded in 1991.

Most of Sponge’s members have been in the band for at least 10 years, and have known each other for much longer, thanks to working with different bands in the Detroit area.

Sponge has come a long way since releasing its first album, “Rotting Piñata,” in 1994. Two years after their first album dropped, Sponge opened for fellow rockers KISS on the first night of their reunion tour. The band’s songs have also been featured in movies like “Chasing Amy” and “Mallrats,” both directed by Kevin Smith.

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Debuting in the 90s, when alternative rock was on the rise, it was important for Sponge to differentiate their sound and their style from the rest.

“(Our sound) would best fit in as 90s alternative, I suppose, but it’s just rock music to me,” Dombroski said.

Unlike some 90s rock bands that faded just as quickly as the stirrup pant trend, Sponge is still actively recording and performing. The band’s most recent album, “Destroy the Boy,” was released in 2010, and is currently being rounded out to a 10-song album due out this fall.

Dombroski says Sponge’s fan base ranges from people who used to come out and see them back in the day to the kids they bring to the shows today when they can’t find a babysitter.

“And our fans love to party!” Dombroski added.

Over the past 20 years, one thing hasn’t changed. The band still finds inspiration from living everyday life, and melodies and lyrics are always swimming through their heads. Dombroski even wrote a song about Detroit called “Haul Ass.”

“It’s about all the trouble a skinny white kid can get into when he gets bused around the Detroit Public School system,” Dombroski said. “And being a bored juvenile delinquent in that same city.”

After all these years, the band still enjoys playing their songs, and Sponge hopes to keep making records and performing live for years to come. Dombroski doesn’t even get tired of playing one of the band’s most well-known songs, “Plowed.”

“I don’t think KISS gets tired of playing ‘Rock and Roll All Night’ because the fans are pumped up and they want to hear it! Folks come to our shows not only to hear the new stuff, but the old stuff as well,” he said.

At the same time, some of his favorite songs are the lesser-known ones, since they tend to be more “self-indulgent” and less commercial.

“(A) perfect example is the song ‘Impossible’ which is used in the Chevy commercial,” Dombroski said. “My band The Orbitsuns has a version of that song, and it’s a big fan favorite.”

Other than a few lineup changes, not much has changed over the years, as Sponge is still a loud, guitar-based rock band. Dombroski still cruises around in his ’67 Chevy Impala, and the band has been using the same tour vehicle for nearly 10 years: a 2003 Chevy 2500 Express.

Sponge is hard at work getting “Destroy the Boy” ready for a fall release, and Dombroski realizes that the band’s years of success did not come easy.

“Never count on anyone walking into your career and making you successful,” he said. “Young musicians have to learn to get out there and do an unbelievable amount of work, recording, shows, promoting, videos, all on their own, on their own dime.”

And Sponge’s hard work has certainly paid off. Keep an eye (and an ear!) out for the band’s song, “Plowed,” in the upcoming film “Chasing Mavericks,” due out October 2012 and starring Gerard Butler.

For more on the band, and to keep up to date on its new release, visit http://www.spongetheband.com.