For Squirrels was an alternative rock band based out of Gainesville, Florida, founded in 1992 and changing their name to Subrosa in 1996 before disbanding in 2001. Although their 1995 single “Mighty K.C.” was a minor radio hit, the band is most remembered for the tragic touring van accident that claimed the lives of founding members Jack Vigliatura IV and Bill White, along with tour manager Tim Bender, while the band was on the cusp of national recognition.
The band’s original lineup consisted of vocalist Vigliatura, bassist White, guitarist Travis Tooke, and drummer Jay Russell. Explaining their name, the band had said that they were so committed to being in a band, they would play music “for squirrels.” The group played jangly alternative rock akin to R.E.M., one of their prime influences, with heavier moments alluding to the sound of grunge rock and Nirvana.
Drummer Jack Griego eventually replaced Russell. In early 1994, they self-released their first full album, Baypath Rd., followed by the Plymouth EP, which simply re-released five songs directly taken from Baypath Rd. Steven E. Goldman, a prominent Miami attorney, served as the band’s manager. After touring and establishing a following, the band signed with Sony/550 Music and recorded the album Example, which was set to be released on October 3, 1995.
On September 8, 1995, while returning from playing the CMJ Music Marathon in New York City, the band was involved in the auto accident that killed Vigliatura, White, and Bender. Griego and Tooke suffered multiple injuries but survived the crash. The album was released as planned. The single “Mighty K.C.”, about the death of Kurt Cobain, was a minor hit and continued to drive album sales.
A few months after the accident, Tooke and Griego regrouped with school friend Andy Lord on bass and Tooke taking over on vocals. In February 1996, the new lineup began by playing a few low-key shows centered around classic For Squirrels songs and a selection of covers under the pseudonym Revlover. Eventually, they resurrected the For Squirrels moniker and began writing and performing new material, favoring a heavier grunge sound.
By late 1996, the trio was playing under the name Subrosa. In the summer of 1997, they released their only record under this name, Never Bet the Devil Your Head, on Sony Records, to decent reviews but poor sales. Second guitarist Mike Amish was later added, which was followed by a tour supporting popular alternative rock act Creed. Griego eventually parted ways with the group and was replaced in the band’s final years by Rusty Valentine. They disbanded in 2001.
Tooke, Lord and Amish have remained active in the Gainesville rock scene. Tooke has performed under several monikers including his most recent music project, Helixglow. He has also released a solo CD and several singles (2012) via Indigo Planet Records. Amish and Lord now play in the band Papercranes.