Rock group Paloalto is led by singer/songwriter/guitarist James Grundler, a Los Angeles native who named the band not after the northern California city, but after his preschool. Grundler began writing songs as a grade school student, and by 1994, was coming up with compositions he felt good about. In the late '90s, he saw a band featuring lead guitarist Jason Johnson and recruited him for his group. The next to join was bassist Alex Parnell. With drummer Steve Clark, the newly formed band began playing at the Mint club in Los Angeles and cut a demo tape that they shopped to record labels. Rick Rubin's American Recordings expressed interest and signed the band in 1999. In mid-December, they began recording their debut album with Rubin producing. During the sessions, Clark left and was replaced by Florian Reinert, and session keyboardist Andy Blunda joined, making Paloalto a quintet. Their self-titled debut album was released in October 2000, preceded by first single "Sonny." Three years later, Parnell and Johnson had left the band and Paloalto were a four-piece with bass player Tommy Black. Their sonically rich sophomore effort Heroes and Villians appeared in July. ~ William Ruhlmann

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