In order to move forward, Sponge singer Vinnie Dombroski said the Detroit natives had to go back to the beginning.
The result was 2016's The Beer Sessions, in which Sponge eschewed the more polished sound of their previous effort in favor of a from-the-gut, stiff upper lip that capitalized on the raw muscularity of the group's Motor City roots.
"It was kind going back to the early approach of recording a Sponge song where it's written in the morning and done in the evening, I mean recorded and everything," Dombroski said Thursday during a phone interview. "(The attitude) was let's not scrutinize the performances and just go in and have a great time recording and just have a great time in the studio."
Asked to name his go-to adult beverage of choice, Dombroski laughed and admitted he was more of a vodka drinker, though he does enjoy a good lager or IPA. "We come from the great beer state, so we're kind of spoiled," he joked.
The Beer Sessions will likely be represented tonight when Sponge headlines One Centre Square in Easton. ("Jump While the House is on Fire," the album's fist-pumper of an opening track, has been a staple of recent set lists.) Dombroski then assured fans they can expect to hear hits from the band's breakthrough album Rotting Piñata and its successor, Wax Ecstatic.
Rotting Piñata, released in 1994 just as grunge was reaching the pinnacle of its cultural zenith, spawned the singles "Molly (16 Candles)," the title track, and what has arguably become Sponge's signature tune -- "Plowed." ("Molly" reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot Modern Rock chart in 1994.) Sponge's sophomore effort, 1996's Wax Ecstatic, generated the hit title track and the single "Have You Seen Mary."
Since then, Sponge has released eight studio albums and continued to tour relentlessly as new generations of listeners discover the group's catalog -- and to a larger extent, Dombroski said, the alternative rock movement of the 1990s.
In 2016, Sponge joined fellow decade hit-makers Everclear, Sugar Ray and Lit for the fifth annual Summerland Tour. Call it nostalgia, if you like, but Dombroski is just happy doing what he loves the most.
"I think we've come into a status of some sort of reverence that we've hung in there that long. I think there is reverence of the time period that was the '90s," Dombroski said. "('Plowed') is one of those songs that's still active in rock radio. You can't buy that. It's glued in there ... It is kind of cool that we've been able to hang in there."
Dombroski said he and the rest of the band are having fun culling from more than two decades' worth of music. "We're just playing a ton of music and we never write a set list. We kind of just open it up to the audience," he said. "For the most part, it seems to work for everybody. And it makes every show a little different."
Dombroski is also not in a rush to get back into the studio. "This whole thing boils down to the songs and the performances of the songs. The band sounds just fantastic to me," he said. "I'm not ready to make another record right now. I think at some point soon though I would like to make another record."
Sponge performs tonight with Eden, Sister Salvation, Lakini's Rooster, Breakneck Speed, and Liquor Soaked Highway at One Centre Square, 1 Centre Square, Easton. Doors open 5 p.m. Tickets cost $15-$18.