Picks and Pans Review: Pause Button

updated 02/26/1996 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/26/1996 AT 01:00 AM EST


FOR SQUIRRELS SHOULD BE DELIGHTED that sales of their major-label debut album, Example (550 Music/Epic), have been strong enough to break into the Billboard 200, but the success is at best bittersweet for the Gainesville, Fla., rockers.

Last Sept. 8, a day after the quartet was presented with the first issues of their CD in New York City, the foursome—guitarist Travis Tooke, 23, drummer Jack Griego, 28, lead singer Jack Vigliatura, 21, bassist Bill White, 23—and their road manager Tim Bender, 23, climbed back into their van to head home to Gainesville. On an interstate highway near Savannah, the van's rear tire blew out, causing the vehicle to flip over several times. Tooke and Griego were able to crawl from the wreckage with a broken elbow and broken vertebrae, respectively (Griego suffered nerve damage in his shoulder but is, remarkably, able to play). "My three best friends died and I came out of it with a hurt elbow," muses Tooke. "I feel guilty about that sometimes. But other times I feel inspired to carry on what we started. We're going to do it for Jack and Bill, and we're going to do it for us."

They are. Tooke and Griego have hired bassist Andy Lord and will be performing as a trio, with Tooke taking over lead vocals. But will they ever be as good as the original band, whose jangly guitar sound critics have likened to R.E.M.'s? "I don't think so," says Tooke. "That camaraderie would still have to be there, and it's gone. All we can do is our best." The new Squirrels will go back on the road in March to support their album. "But," says Griego, "we're not in a van this time. We're traveling in a bus."

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