Velvet Crush

A classic power pop band in the tradition of the Raspberries and Big Star, Velvet Crush formed in Rhode Island in 1989, although their roots actually extended west to Champaign, Illinois, where vocalist/bassist Paul Chastain and drummer Ric Menck first met and began performing together. There Menck founded his own small label, Picture Book, on which he and Chastain recorded solo material as well as singles under various group names like the Springfields, Choo Choo Train, the Paint Set, and Bag-O-Shells. Picture Book also released records by the Milwaukee-based White Sisters, led by guitarist Jeffrey Borchardt, with whom Menck struck up a friendship. When Borchardt eventually moved to Providence, Rhode Island in 1988, he encouraged Menck and Chastain to follow; they did, and Velvet Crush soon began performing their first shows. In 1991, longtime friend Matthew Sweet produced their debut, In the Presence of Greatness; a hit with the British music press, the record earned the group a deal with the influential U.K. label Creation.