Led by East Coast singer/songwriter Alice Leon, the Alice Project is a Princeton, NJ-based band that specializes in melodic, hooky, tuneful pop/rock. Leon is not the sort of artist who goes out of her way to be abstract or difficult; her songs tend to be meaty and substantial, yet very accessible and easy to absorb. Leon's influences -- either direct or indirect -- range from Carole King, Carly Simon, and the Beatles to Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, Sheryl Crow, and former Til Tuesday singer turned solo artist Aimee Mann. With the Alice Project, Leon takes a very hands-on approach; in addition to writing almost all the band's material by herself, Leon has co-produced the Alice Project's albums and done a lot of arranging.
The Alice Project isn't Leon's first band; before forming the Alice Project, she was the lead singer of a band called After Alice, which appeared on Star Search in 1990 and recorded an album titled Sound the Alarm in 1995. Some of the songs from Sound the Alarm were used as background music on CBS's long-running soap opera Guiding Light, and Leon made a guest appearance on that program when she played a wedding singer and performed the show's theme song. After Alice broke up in 1996, and for awhile, Leon was working as a solo artist. The singer/songwriter (who plays guitar and keyboards) was performing an acoustic solo set in a Greenwich Village café when a representative of Sony Music heard her; that representative introduced her to producer John Kalodner, who signed Leon to a development deal with Sony. In 1997, Sony arranged for Leon to record a demo, which was produced by headbanger Dave "The Snake" Sabo (of the Los Angeles-based heavy metal/hard rock band Skid Row) and Jackyl vocalist Jesse James Dupree. Unfortunately, things with Sony didn't work out; when corporate restructuring took place, Leon's development deal was terminated. But despite that setback, Leon persevered and formed the Alice Project in 1997. Because Sony had let Leon keep her demo, she was able to sell cassettes of the recording at the Alice Project's live gigs; Leon has called that demo Conversations in the Bedroom.
The Alice Project's debut album, The Big Number, was recorded for Leon's own label, Clown Milk Records, in 1998. That CD finds her leading the band's original lineup, which consisted of Leon on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Mickey Angel on lead guitar, Scott Monetti on keyboards and background vocals, Jim Arra on bass and background vocals, and Scott Strunk on drums. In 2000, the Alice Project's second album, Traveling With Lady Berlin, was released on Clown Milk; that year, Leon led a new lineup that included Strunk and newcomers James Leahey (lead guitar) and Alan Greene (bass). In 2002, the Alice Project recorded their third album, Overnight Success, which was also released on Clown Milk. ~ Alex Henderson