Formed in 1990 by two former punk rockers, Love Jones fit into the so-called "cocktail nation" of the early '90s. In some ways a reaction to the grunge/alternative wave that swept through America in 1992, the members of the cocktail nation celebrated the aesthetics and music of the '50s and early '60s -- the lounge jazz, crooning pop, and martinis.
Former Squirrel Bait and Lemonheads drummer Ben Daughtrey and bassist Barry Thomas formed the group in the spring of 1990; soon afterward, the duo added singer/guitarist Chris Hawpe, drummer Stuart Johnson, and singer Jonathan Palmer, with Daughtrey playing various percussion instruments and singing.
After playing for a year in Louisville, KY, the group moved out to Hollywood where they eventually received a contract with Zoo Entertainment. Love Jones released its first record, Here's to the Losers, in late 1993.
According to Entertainment Weekly, Love Jones was a leader of the "Cocktail Nation" groups of the early 1990s. The genre — which included Combustible Edison, Squirrel Nut Zippers and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy — was a reaction to the grunge/alternative music of the early 1990s. Cocktail Nation bands celebrated the aesthetics and music of the 1950s and early 1960s — lounge jazz, crooning pop, and martinis. Love Jones played any sort of pop music that fit within that label: pop, blues, R&B, bossa nova, doo wop.
Love Jones formed in Louisville in 1990, along with bands like Slint and Palace Brothers, demonstrating the diversity of the Louisville music scene. In 1992, Love Jones moved to Los Angeles and staged a weekly Thursday night residency show at the famed nightclub Largo. The show featured frequent guest performer Jon Brion, who appears on several Love Jones recordings.
In 1992 Love Jones signed with Zoo Entertainment/BMG shortly after releasing a single on Minty Fresh Records. The band was first brought to the attention of Zoo Entertainment/BMG by guitarist Adam Jones of Tool, who were with the label at the time. The band would eventually contribute the hidden track "Santa Monica and Orange" to Love Jones' debut album for Zoo, 1993's Here's to the Losers.
Here's to the Losers—co-produced by the band and Rod O'Brien—contains a wide mix of styles, including disco, Blaxploitation film soundtracks, samba, soul and funk. Key tracks include "Central Avenue," "Li'l Black Book," "Custom Van," "Drive-In," "Ohio River" and "Fragile." Jon Brion is featured on many tracks, playing piano and organ. Ben Daughtrey directed the music video for "Pineapple."
1995's Powerful Pain Relief—co-produced by the band and Paul duGré—reveals more of Love Jones' influences, including Isaac Hayes, early Chicago, Earth Wind & Fire and Chic. Key tracks include the title track, "World of Summer," "You Don't Know Me" and "The Thing." Jon Brion again contributes, playing various keyboards on several tracks. Liz Friedlander directed the music video for "The Thing."
2010's independent release Forever—co-produced by Love Jones and Matthew Libman—includes key tracks "Charm City" and "Hey California."
Love Jones' signature song "Paid For Lovin'" was featured in the Miramax film Swingers after the band developed a relationship with Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn, who frequently attended Love Jones' shows. Love Jones bassist Barry Thomas was a Music Consultant on Swingers.
The band built a fanbase across the United States through touring, often in support of alternative rock bands of the day, such as Afghan Whigs and The Presidents of the United States of America.
In addition to recorded works and live performances, Love Jones appeared in the films Since You've Been Gone starring Teri Hatcher, and French Exit starring Jonathan Silverman. The band also appeared in the film The Sweetest Thing as the wedding band. They can also be seen in the Pedro Zamora tribute episode of The Real World: San Francisco.