In the 1980s The Del Fuegos were one of Boston’s most exciting up-and-coming bands. Exemplifying raw garage rock in a pre-grunge era, the band combined country and punk, creating high-energy anthems. While controlling the local music scene, the band would go on to play worldwide tours opening for bands like
INXS, the Replacements and Tom Petty &?the Heartbreakers.
“Even under the best of circumstances, we were a tense and fearful group,” notes songwriter Dan Zanes.
Zanes says The Del Fuegos were ready to call it quits when his brother, Warren, and bassist Tom Lloyd left the band after their third record: “Without them, things got more and more difficult, and our lifestyle started to undermine everything. It was the first part of spontaneous combustion.”
The other part was that Zanes had made another Del Fuegos album just around the time that Nirvana broke.
“We instantly felt like dinosaurs,” he says. “The Del Fuegos was an amazing way to waste our youth. We got to experience the ‘ups,’ but we also got to experience the ‘downs’— and the ‘downs’ were very meaningful. We all learned a lot from the art of it all. And if you look at it now, everyone went on to do amazing things.”
Warren Zanes went on to earn two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. He’s now the vice president of education at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as well as a professor and writer. Lloyd is a cellist and investment analyst. Drummer Woody Giessmann founded Right Turn, a program offering assistance to artists in recovery from addiction and other mental health issues. Dan Zanes went on to make family records and won the Grammy for Best Musical Album for Children in 2007 for “Catch That Train.”
“After The Del Fuegos, I went into hiding and turned my back on rock ’n’ roll, entirely,” says Dan Zanes. “When my daughter was born, I had a solo record and was trying to think about what all-ages music would look like. I was able to record something that I wasn’t able to find in record stores and made other kids tapes to hand out to their mothers. All of a sudden, no one cared about my solo record, but everyone wanted a copy of this cassette tape. And I had more fun doing it than I ever had with music before, so I stopped the pop music and went full-time into family music.”