The Polyphonic Spree is a choral rock band from Dallas, Texas that was formed in 2000 by Tim DeLaughter. The band's sound relies on a variety of vocal and instrumental color by featuring a choir, flute, trumpet, french horn, trombone, violin, viola, cello, percussion, piano, guitars, bass, drums, electronic keyboards and EWI. DeLaughter is the lead singer.
DeLaughter's previous group, Tripping Daisy, came to an abrupt end in 1999 when guitarist Wes Berggren died of a drug overdose. Making The Polyphonic Spree a reality was, in part, a reaction to his death.
In 2000, DeLaughter collaborated with twelve other musicians, trying to put a sound together that reflected the music he grew up with. He wanted to explore the orchestral palette and pop sensibility of The Beatles, The Association, The 5th Dimension, Wings, The Electric Light Orchestra and The Beach Boys; and the vocal style of Ozzy Osbourne from Black Sabbath. Within two weeks, The Polyphonic Spree created a 30-minute set, donned their signature white choir robes and performed with Grandaddy and Bright Eyes.
Shortly after their first show, twelve more musicians joined the band and they recorded "The Beginning Stages of ... The Polyphonic Spree", which contained all nine songs (sections) written for their first show, plus a tenth track (Section 10 – Long Day). The album was intended to serve as a demo recording to garner interest in booking the band for live performances. They performed at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas. As a result of the attention they received from the press and other industry pundits at the festival, the band was invited to perform at London's Meltdown Festival curated by David Bowie in 2002. They opened for The Divine Comedy at the Royal Festival Hall.
In early 2003, they were dropped by their record label, 679 Recordings, citing "lack of record sales." Ironically, it was about this time that the band had only just begun to break into the pop-cultural scene. The song "Light and Day / Reach For the Sun" was used in a joint Volkswagen Beetle/iPod tie-in advertising campaign, appearing on nationwide television commercials in 2004. The same song was used in a tribute to Bill Walsh during an NFL football preseason special. It was also used in an episode of the TV series Scrubs, the end music for the first series of the BBC Radio 7 sci-fi comedy Undone, the music video for the song was also adapted for the movie "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind". Also during this time the band was invited to be an opening act for David Bowie on his "Reality Tour" and performed at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas.
In 2004, Hollywood Records released their second album, Together We're Heavy in Japan on June 30, Europe on July 12, and North America on July 13, 2004. The Polyphonic Spree was featured on the American television program Scrubs on April 20, 2004, in the episode "My Choosiest Choice of All" (3-19); and on the television program Las Vegas on November 29, 2004, in the episode "Silver Star" (2-10). The Polyphonic Spree was also featured on the soundtrack of the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (the DVD features a film clip music video for "Light and Day").
In December 2004, The Polyphonic Spree performed at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert, honoring Wangari Maathai before a worldwide television audience.
2005 saw the release of Thumbsucker, a feature film by Mike Mills, with a score composed by Tim DeLaughter and performed by The Polyphonic Spree. The song "Light and Day / Reach for the Sun" can also be found in Murderball, a documentary about the U.S. wheelchair rugby team.
The band released their third complete album The Fragile Army on June 19, 2007, produced by John Congleton. The Polyphonic Spree dropped their robes for their 2007 tours, and opted for black army outfits, while continuing to don the classic white robes during encores. Recently (July 2007) the song "Running Away" was featured on the Sci-Fi network in commercials promoting their line up of shows for the season.
Also in autumn of 2007, Adidas commissioned a few artists to write theme songs for MLS teams as part of a campaign called "MLS Represent". The Polyphonic Spree was commissioned to write a song for FC Dallas. The result was the song "H-O-O-P-S Yes!"
In September 2007, The Polyphonic Spree performed three songs, "Light and Day / Reach for the Sun", "Soldier Girl", and "Light to Follow", at Oscar de la Renta's Spring 2008 Fashion Show for New York Fashion Week. They recorded the opening track to the Showtime series Weeds for season 2 (episode 9), and also contributed to the Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Nightmare Before Christmas tribute CDs.
Sky Sports are using "Running Away" to advertise their spring and summer Cricket coverage.
UK supermarket Sainsbury's continues to use "Light and Day / Reach For the Sun" for its advertising campaign. It became the most used song in advertising in the United Kingdom.
In 2009, the band wrote and performed the opening sequence to Showtime's new show The United States of Tara, which stars Toni Collette as a woman with multiple personality disorder. This was performed live for the first time ever on their current tour of Australia, in the city of Adelaide. "Light & Day/Reach For The Sun" is also featured on the "Your UQ" advertising campaign for the University of Queensland.
On July 11, 2011, the band released an interactive music video app for iOS devices called Bullseye, featuring the first single from an upcoming collection of songs.
"Light and Day/Reach For the Sun" is featured in the movie trailer for the 2012 animated film The Lorax.
On October 11, 2012, the band launched a campaign on Kickstarter to fund their next studio album, tour, live album, and concert DVD. They successfully reached their funding goal of $100,000 on November 28 of the same year.
The band's HolidayDream: Sounds of the Holidays Vol. One was released in 2012 featuring an original introduction and outro and Polyphonic Spree cover versions of classic Christmas songs including "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" and "Let it Snow".
On August 6, 2013, they played a sold out gig in the Village Underground in London to mark the release of their album "Yes, It's True". The performance was broadcast live on Vimeo. A US release show in the Granada Theatre in Dallas, Texas followed on August 9 and the band have since been touring the album worldwide.
A live DVD is due to be released in October 2013 and the band will play their famous Holiday Extravaganza in Dallas, Texas on December 21.