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Frogpond was formed in the small Midwestern college town of Warrensburg, Missouri, in 1994. Heidi Phillips had been playing the drums since the age of 14, then expanded her instrumental repertoire a few years later when she picked up a guitar with the intention of writing songs and starting her own band.
"I was insecure and didn't want to jump in with a bunch of people that were really good," Heidi confesses, remembering the first incarnation of Frogpond. "So I asked some friends to be in a band with me."
As the band metamorphosed, members joined based on their enthusiasm and friendship, not always practical experience.
"I had never played before. I learned how to play the bass in ten days because they had a show and no bass player," admits Justine Volpe. "I was a really huge fan of the band and I was friends with the girls, so I thought 'what the hell.'"
Frogpond began tuning up their live show by taking every gig they could get, which led to memorable opening slots for the Toadies and Everclear. One of the highlights of their early career came when Mike Mills from R.E.M. caught a Kansas City show and became immediately enamored with Frogpond's sound; a personal invitation to play R.E.M.'s Monster tour wrap party in Atlanta followed shortly thereafter.
Landing a deal with Sony subsidiary TriStar, the band recorded their debut Count To Ten in September '96 at Smart Studios in a whopping two and a half days with Everclear's Art Alexakis at the dials.
"The studio flooded and our time was cut in half," Volpe recalls. "It was do or die."
Following the release of Count To Ten, Frogpond then hit the road for more than a year, adding to the band's growing fan base throughout the Midwest and beyond.
In February 1998, Frogpond broke with its erstwhile "all-girl" history and enlisted drummer Billy Johnson (to whom they lovingly referred to as "the new girl") to join the band's core family of Heidi and Justine; the three-piece began pre-production work on Safe Ride Home in spring of '98 with producer Doug McBride at Gravity Studios in Chicago. The two months spent recording the new album seemed like a lifetime compared to the two-and-a-half days on the first record. Adding a cellist on three songs, electronic strings on "Sleep," and even enlisting the help of Veruca Salt's Louise Post for backing vocals on "Whatever," all seemed like luxuries well-deserved and well worth the diligent effort from all involved in the project.
Frogpond disbanded in 2000. Heidi Phillips reemerged with Abileen in 2004, and Kristie Stremel is still active as a solo artist.
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