Known for their theatrical live show and the black masks that most of their members wear on-stage, Mushroomhead are one of the more unique and adventurous alternative metal outfits that emerged in the 1990s. The band's forceful yet melodic alternative metal incorporates elements of hip-hop, punk, and goth rock as well as industrial and techno. Since releasing their eponymous debut in 1995, Mushroomhead have sold over two million albums worldwide, with highlights arriving via 2003's XIII, 2006's Savior Sorrow, and 2014's The Righteous & the Butterfly.
The members of Mushroomhead have been performing incognito since 1993, when drummer Skinny founded the band. At first, Mushroomhead were only meant to be a side project. Their members were playing in various local bands at the time, and they wore the blacks masks (which look like a cross between S&M/bondage masks and World War I gas masks) so that people wouldn't recognize them. The only Mushroomhead member who doesn't wear a black mask opts for Kiss-like clown makeup instead. After a few years, the group became one of Cleveland's top local attractions -- and the bandmembers kept wearing the masks when they saw how intriguing people found them to be.
Mushroomhead's self-titled debut album was released independently in 1995, followed by Superbuick in 1996 and M3 in 1999. The Midwesterners signed with Eclipse in 2000, and their next record, XX, came out the following year. In 2001, Mushroomhead's members included drummer/founder Skinny, lead vocalists J-Mann and Jeffrey Nothing, guitarists Bronson and Gravy, keyboardist Shmotz, bassist Pig Benis, and sample provider Stitch when they signed to Universal Records to re-release XX. Their first proper effort for the label was 2003's dynamic XIII, but the band soon parted ways with not only Universal but also vocalist J-Mann during a subsequent tour. Undeterred, Mushroomhead pressed on with their D.I.Y. ethos intact and welcomed new frontman Waylon, formerly of 3 Quarters Dead, into the fray.
The concert film Mushroomhead, Vol. 1 followed in mid-2005 before the group returned in September 2006 with the critically acclaimed Savior Sorrow, released through New York-based indie Megaforce Records. Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children, the band's seventh studio album, arrived in 2010, followed in 2014 by The Righteous & the Butterfly, the latter of which became the group's first album to crack the Top 20 of the Billboard Top 200. 2020's A Wonderful Life introduced new members Steve Rauckhorst and Jackie LaPonza (vocals), and Tom Shaffner (guitar), who replaced longtime vocalist Jeffrey Nothing and guitar player Tommy Church. It was Mushroomhead's eighth studio LP and first outing for Napalm Records. ~ Alex Henderson