Nominee – 1996 6th Annual LA Music Awards
Letters to Cleo was an alternative rock band from Boston, Massachusetts, best known for the 1993 single “Here & Now”, from their full-length debut album Aurora Gory Alice (the band attained exposure outside of Boston due to the album’s popularity). The band’s members were Michael Eisenstein, Kay Hanley, Stacy Jones, Greg McKenna, Scott Riebling, and later, Tom Polce.
The group disbanded in 2000 but reunited for a small tour in 2008.
Guitarist Greg McKenna and singer Kay Hanley formed the band Letters to Cleo in 1990. The band was initially called Rebecca Lula but did not have fixed members, except for McKenna and Hanley. In its early phase, the band enlisted various guest players, including a brief period with Abe Laboriel, Jr. as drummer in 1993. The band’s definitive lineup of Hanley, McKenna, Michael Eisenstein on guitar, Stacy Jones on drums and Scott Riebling on bass, was established in 1994. The name “Letters to Cleo” is a reference to Hanley’s childhood pen pal. Hanley recounts that her “letters to Cleo” were often returned. She rediscovered a box of these letters during the band-naming process, and the band adopted the name.
Letters to Cleo played gigs in several Boston clubs, including T.T. the Bear’s Place and The Rathskellar. They released their first full-length album, Aurora Gory Alice, on CherryDisc Records in 1993. The album received extensive airplay around the New England region and after a much hyped show at South by Southwest in Austin, Letters to Cleo signed a major label record deal with Giant Records, a Warner Brothers subsidiary, and Aurora Gory Alice was re-released worldwide.
The band had their first big hit single with “Here & Now”, which gained greater exposure as part of the Melrose Place soundtrack. The song reached No. 10 on the Billboard Modern Rock Singles chart.
In 1995, Letters to Cleo released a follow-up album, Wholesale Meats and Fish. Its release was followed by extensive tours with Our Lady Peace, Sponge, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin and others. The single “Awake” achieved moderate rotation on alternative radio. The band also recorded a cover of The Cars song “Dangerous Type” for the major motion picture The Craft.
In 1997, Stacy Jones left the band to join Veruca Salt and was replaced by Tom Polce. That same year, the band released their third album Go!. After a short tour, Polce left the band and was replaced by drummer Jason Sutter. In late 1997, Letters to Cleo parted ways with their record label Giant/Revolution.
1998 saw the release of some early demos and B-sides in the form of the Sister EP released originally by Wicked Disc.
Letters to Cleo appeared in the 1999 film 10 Things I Hate about You as a favorite band of the character portrayed by Julia Stiles. They contributed four songs to the soundtrack for the film, which included a Cheap Trick cover (“I Want You to Want Me”), and a Nick Lowe & Ian Gomm cover (“Cruel to Be Kind”). Also included were two original tracks, “Come On”, and the beginning of “Co-Pilot” (which can be heard at the end of the scene of their performance at a local club). Whereas the covers appeared on the film’s soundtrack, “Come On” was released as an MP3 download on the band’s website. “Co-Pilot” was also not on the film’s soundtrack, but it appeared on Letters To Cleo’s album Go!.
During that same year, the band opened for Cheap Trick at The Paradise Club in Boston. The band then recorded 13 new original songs for the Kids’ WB cartoon, Generation O!, which aired from 2000 to 2001.
The band played its last show on May 4, 2000, a benefit for their friend and longtime local supporter, Mikey D. They announced their disbandment in the Boston Globe the following month.