The Mooney Suzuki nostalgia of "old time rock & roll" debuted in 1996 upon the formation of Sammy James, Jr (guitar/vocals), John Paul Ribas (bass), Graham Tyler (guitar) and Will Rockwell (drums). On top of their added punk of three-chord agility and their '60s momentum of the MC5, The Rolling Stones and The Kinks, the quartet would spend the next three years playing in and out of their native New York City with the likes of Thee Headcoats, The Donnas, Make-Up and The Delta 72, among others. Telstar Records eventually packaged the Mooney Suzuki's first self-titled single which debuted in 1999. They followed that up with the release of their debut album, People Get Ready, for Estrus in 2000. Steady touring led to more exposure and a new deal with Gammon Records for the release of 2002's critically acclaimed Electric Sweat. The album and the band's frenetic live shows caught the attention of Columbia Records, which signed the band soon after the album's release. They promptly reissued Electric Sweat with the addition of live multimedia tracks. The group set off on the road again, bolstering their bank accounts by selling "Young Man's Mind" to Coors for use in a commercial and by recording an interpretation of Cole Porter's "Don't Fence Me In" for use in a Nike ad. After completing a stint on 2003's Lollapalooza tour, the band headed into the studio with pop hitmakers the Matrix to record their third album. In the middle of the sessions, the band was hired to provide the title song for Jack Black's film School of Rock, revamping Mike White's lyrics and providing the music for Black to emote over. The Mooney Suzuki's third album, Alive & Amplified, was released in August of 2004.

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