Hailed as one of the most influential and important albums of its time, Nothing Feels Good is largely regarded as The Promise Ring’s masterwork. Released in 1997 through Jade Tree, the album immediately elevated The Promise Ring to new heights with a mix of power pop and indie rock still made all their own by frontman Davie von Bohlen’s charming words.
One of the most beloved underground rock acts of the ’90s, it’s nearly impossible to oversell the profound influence The Promise Ring had on their genre’s past, present and future.
Formed in 1995 in Milwaukee by guitarist Jason Gnewikow, drummer Dan Didier and bassist Scott Beschta, the band was eventually rounded out by frontman Davey von Bohlen, who at the time was a new enlistee into Midwest darlings Cap’n Jazz but gave The Promise Ring their crucial missing piece.
The band signed with Jade Tree in 1996 and issued their debut, 30 Degrees Everywhere, later that year. Shortly after Nothing Feels Good hit stores, bassist Scott Schoenbeck entered the fold and the group released 1999’s Very Emergency, their final album for Jade Tree, before leaving for ANTI- to release 2002’s Wood/Water.
The Promise Ring’s sound was a truly comprehensive undertaking, a powerful style that distilled the spirit and vigor of some of the members’ punk and hardcore backgrounds and spit-shined it with von Bohlen’s tastefully angsty melodicism. The music was deceptively complex, masked by layers of driving guitars and buoyant rhythms. But it was also deceptively dark, as the singer’s heart-on-sleeve lyrics — tackling love, loss, regret and disappointment — and emotive delivery were hallmarks of The Promise Ring’s genre-leading sound.