Fuel was formed in 1989 in western Tennessee in a town called Kenton when Carl Bell and Jeff Abercrombie, who grew up together and played in various garage bands, teamed with Brett Scallions, who was from a nearby town called Brownsville, to form Fuel's core. Jody Abbott and Erik Avakian later joined the band while in Tennessee. They started playing covers in small clubs in Tennessee to make some extra money. During this time, Carl played guitar and provided backing vocals, Jeff played bass, Jody was on drums, Brett played guitar and sung lead vocals, and Erik played keyboards and share singing duties on different songs, like most cover bands.
However, they knew they wanted to play all originals, so they decided to move to a larger area to get more exposure. Harrisburg, PA seemed like a logical choice. In Harrisburg, they had already started to develop a fan base and its relative proximity to New York City and other large markets allowed for greater exposure to label executives. After their move to Harrisburg in 1994, they self-released their first tape, "Fuel", which contained 8 songs. Erik played keyboards and sung backing vocals on certain tracks before he and the band went their separate ways. After a few more years of local touring, Fuel released their now sold-out first CD, "Porcelain," which contained 7 songs. It was recorded before and after shows on two Aleis ADAT recorders and mixed in their houses. Fuel sold approximately 10,000 copies of Porcelain from the side of the stage and the trunks of their cars. Soon thereafter, local radio stations began including Fuel in their regular rotation and "Shimmer" became a local hit.
On May 6, 1997, Fuel was signed to Sony 550 Records after a sold out show at Millersville University. They started recording Sunburn on July 28, 1997. The EP "Hazleton" was released by Sony 550 for sale during the Fall '97. The new album on Sony 550 is scheduled to be released in March of 1998.
In November of 1997, Jody Abbott left Fuel. Kevin Miller, formerly of the Armadillos, joined Fuel in December and began playing shows shortly thereafter. While working on the new album, Johnathan Mover laid the drum tracks during recording at Long View Farm Studio in North Brookfield, MA while Fuel was between drummers. Mover has been rated one of the Top 10 rock drummers in the world and has played with Joe Satriani, Alice Cooper, and Aretha Franklin among others.
On February 17, 1998, the first single "Shimmer" was released nationally for radio play, and the video was shot on Feb. 27 and Feb. 28, 1998 in Los Angeles. The video was directed by Josh Taft, who has worked with many bands including Stone Temple Pilots. Fuel's major label debut, Sunburn, was released on March 31, 1998. In March, Fuel also recorded the song "Walk the Sky" for the Godzilla soundtrack which was produced by Brendan O'Brien who has worked with many artists including Pearl Jam and Rage Against the Machine.
On March 30th, 1998, Fuel played a free show at Media Play in Harrisburg, PA in front of over 600 fans and signed autographs after the show for their CD Release Party. In its first week, "Sunburn" sold more than 2,200 copies in Central PA on its way to being the number one record in Central PA. It also sold over 10,000 copies nationally during the first week. "Sunburn" premiered on Billboard's Top 200 Albums immediately following its release and reached a peak position of # 79.
Fuel made their first national television appearance on MTVs 120 Minutes on Sunday May 24 when Brett and Carl had a short interview with host Matt Pinfield. Just three days later, "Shimmer" was featured on MTVs 12 Angry Viewers and won "Best Alternative Video" of the week beating out Green Day and The Verve. Fuel performed their hit "Shimmer" on the Conan O'Brien show on June 24, 1998 in their first national TV appearance.
Following the Our Lady Peace's Summersault show in Toronto, Fuel recorded the video to "Bittersweet", their follow up to the hit "Shimmer". In September of 1998, Fuel was asked to go on tour with Aerosmith for a month which they graciously accepted. The "Bittersweet" video premiered on MTVs 120 Minutes on October 19, 1998.
On the tails of their success of opening for Aerosmith and their "Bittersweet" video, Fuel sold the 500,000th copy of Sunburn bringing them their first Gold Record on October 22, 1998.
In the November of 1998, Fuel embarked on their first world tour when they headed to Europe and Australia for a month. While in Australia, Fuel performed several dates and did several television appearances including the Recovery Show, for which they were the house band and only played intros to songs. They played not only their own material but also other popular hits, such at Metallica's "Enter Sandman". They also played the Ground Zero show at which they performed an acoustic version of their smash hit, "Shimmer"
Fuel was recognized at the 1998 Billboard Music Awards by being nominated in the Best New Artist category in both Alternative/Modern Rock and the Hard Rock/Metal Categories. However, Fuel won neither award. Fuel continued to tour on the strength of Sunburn headed out in 1999 with Local H for their U.S. Headlining Tour. With "Jesus or a Gun" tabbed as the next single, controversial cover and all, Fuel stays on the road including another trip to Europe. All the while, Carl is writing new material for their sophomore release.
On April 20, 1999, while Fuel was finishing up their European tour with Silverchair, their third single, "Jesus or a Gun" was officially released. A music video was not originally planned for the song unless it was well received by modern rock radio.
Band History by Eric Hoffman with information from Jeff Abercrombie and Brad Lindenmuth. It may not be used without consent.
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