Jake Slichter, John Munson and Dan Wilson played a party in Minneapolis in late winter 1992 as Pleasure. This was while John and Dan were still in the band Trip Shakespeare. The three friends learned a batch of covers ("Drift Away" by Dobie Gray, "Dancing in the Moonlight" by King Harvest -- which Dave Pirner sang with them though he didn't know the words -- "In Dreams" by Roy Orbison, "Can't Help Falling" by Elvis Presley, "Yes It Is" by the Beatles, among others). The show was at the 400 Bar with Dan on the piano, John on bass and Jake on drums. The joy of the evening lead to songwriting by the trio and eventually to 8-track recordings made with Slichter's gear.
In the early months of 1993, the three musicians began meeting in Jake's basement recording studio to make tapes of a few new songs they had started writing together. Using the band name Pleasure, which they later had to abandon due to trademark conflicts, the group was signed by Elektra Records in 1994 on the strength of those first tracks. An EP, titled Pleasure in reference to the band's former name, was released in 1995 and the studio full-length Great Divide in 1996 on MCA. In addition, the song "FNT" (Fascinating New Thing) from Great Divide was used in the movies The Long Kiss Goodnight and Ten Things I Hate About You.
Semisonic's breakthrough came two years later with the national release of the single "Closing Time", which not only topped the Billboard Modern Rock chart in May of 1998, but was also featured in a "Weird Al" Yankovic polka medly--a true claim to fame. The album, Feeling Strangely Fine, reached the Top 50 chart in the US. Their international career also blossomed when another song from the album, "Secret Smile", quickly became a UK radio favourite in the summer of 1999, eventually peaking at #13 on the official UK Singles Chart.
In early 2001 the band released its third album, All About Chemistry. The single "Chemistry" was a mainstay overseas; however, the album didn't fare as well in the United States. Another song, "Over My Head", was used in the 2001 teen flick Summer Catch, and Semisonic rode the wave of various tours in and around the U.K. In the fall of 2001, Semisonic contributed their cover of the Wings classic, "Jet", for the Paul McCartney tribute CD, Listen to What the Man Said.
Dan Wilson took time out to do some solo projects and play tour dates around the Midwest in December. Munson joined up with Wilson's brother and former Trip Shakespeare frontman Matt Wilson to form a side project, The Flops, in 2001, though they reportedly made their final performance in early 2005. Dan Wilson is also releasing a new CD in 2005 featuring collaborations with many other artists.
In 2004, Jacob Slichter's book So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star was published, detailing some of the experiences the group had while touring and attempting to get airplay on radio stations across the U.S.
- "F.N.T." - from "Pleasure" demo tape.
- "Temptation" - from "Pleasure" demo tape.
- "If I Run" - from "Pleasure" demo tape.
- "Kneel Down" - from "Pleasure" demo tape.
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