The return of a local Grunge-era legend
A 90s-era band rooted in central Wisconsin and Madison, Fuzzdolly is reforming after 25 years - and fans are stoked
The email subject line “Fuzzdolly reunion” confused my Monday morning brain. It seemed some of the most improbably and exciting news I could imagine.
For Wausau teens in the 90s, there was hardly an internet as we’d understand it today; no iPhones by which to connect with your friends. Instead, you found whoever had a working car (or at least access to one) and you hopped in. You likely headed to one of two places — Eli’s Mile High Club north of Wausau or Mission Coffee House in Stevens Point — to see some live music.
Fuzzdolly, a band rooted in Stevens Point and Madison, is probably one of those bands you saw. The goth-punk-alternative act played both venues frequently. They ultimately shared the stage with Killdozer, Jesus Lizard, Firewater and Hum, to name a few.
After 25 years since they split in 1997, Fuzzdolly is back and making music again.
All of Fuzzdolly’s original members — Matt Gillis, Shannon Schober, Dennis Jackson and Tim Benn — are back. Missing only is late-era bass player Dan Dieterich, who sadly died in 2021 in Madison (he was a graduate of SPASH).
In fact, it was Dieterich’s passing which led Fuzzdolly’s members to start talking again, Benn told The Wausonian. Benn, a graduate of D.C. Everest in 1987, says the band in March of 2021 decided to host some reunion shows and record some songs and “see what happens.”
Now the stage is set. The band has recorded a full-length album they plan to release in August called The Dead Whisper. And they’ve planned album release parties for Aug. 12 at the Encore in Stevens Point and Aug. 13 at the High Noon Saloon in Madison. There is also talk of a show in Wausau that Thursday, but details are still being worked out.
In the meantime, the band has been playing a handful of shows. They’ve added to their live act visual artist Super Soar Eye (another part of the band’s performance in the 90s). And they’ve released their old discography — six releases between 94-97, impressive in the days before everyone could have a recording studio on their laptop — on music platforms such as Spotify.
To say GenX fans in the central Wisconsin area are excited would be an understatement. “This is awesome. I loved fuzzdolly so much! Remember Eli's mile high? Great times,” said one commenter. Another wrote “It actually made me tear up when I read your post” about Fuzzdolly returning.
It’s unusual to break news in entertainment in the first place, and I wouldn’t have believed this week I’d be breaking news about the return of a 90s-era band from central Wisconsin.
The Wausonian will keep readers posted on a possible Wausau show, and an exact release date of the new album.
In the meantime, enjoy this video from one of their shows at the Mission Coffee House, in all its 90s glory:
(Addition: After speaking with Benn, this show is still earlier in the band’s development and they improved a lot afterward. I still think it represents the zeitgeist of the 90s era, including the shaky MTV-style camera work.)