Billboard Bits: Afghan Whigs, Luna Pop, and more

News on Afghan Whigs, Greg Dulli, Luna Pop, Italian Music Awards, System Of A Down?

Veteran modern rock act the Afghan Whigs have broken up after more than 14 years together. In a statement, Los Angeles-based frontman Greg Dulli chalked the decision up to the geographical distances between he and the other members of the band, who are spread between Cincinnati and Minneapolis. The band said, "It was a blast. We'd like to thank everyone who took the ride with us and let us ride with them."

With a dark rock sound tinged with elements of soul and R&B, the Whigs came to prominence in the early '90s with critically acclaimed albums such as "Congregation" (Sub Pop) and their Elektra debut "Gentlemen." The band's most recent set, "1965," was released by Columbia in 1998 and topped out at No. 176 on The Billboard 200. Dulli made headlines late that year when he suffered a fractured skull in a fight with a security guard at a club in Austin, Texas.

Dulli says he will continue to record under the moniker the Twilight Singers, whose debut album "Twilight As Played By The Twilight Singers" was released by Columbia last August.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

Luna Pop won four prizes in the first-ever Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana (FIMI)-organized Italian Music Awards yesterday (Feb. 5) at the Auditorium in Milan. The young pop band won best album for its debut "Squerez," best single for "Qualcosa Di Grandi," best group, and best new act.

Sicilian singer/songwriter Carmen Consoli won two awards: best female artist and best video, for "Parole Di Burro." A couple of veteran Italian artists also ranked among the winners, with Luciano Ligabue taking the award for best tour, and Adriano Celentano earning best male artist. Eiffel 65 took best dance artist.

Three international awards were offered in addition to the nine Italian categories: Anastacia won best female artist, Carlos Santana was named best male artist, while the best group award went to U2. Winners were based on the votes of an academy consisting of 400 music industry experts.

-- Mark Worden, Milan

Alt-metal act System Of A Down plans to begin recording its sophomore album Monday (Feb. 12) in Los Angeles with Rick Rubin producing. Like the band's 1998 self-titled debut, the new set will be released on Rubin's Sony-distributed American Recordings label, and is expected out this summer.

The band has written and rehearsed more than 25 songs for the new album, with the intention of recording all, although only some will make it onto the final, as-yet-unnamed release.

"We're really anxious to get back into the studio, but don't expect us to make the same record over again," guitarist Daron Malakian said in a statement. "The new material is more melodic, but in a powerful, intense way. The vocal harmonies that [frontman Serj Tankian] and I do are along the lines of Pink Floyd or Radiohead. But don't get me wrong, this will have all the elements of a System Of A Down album."

"System Of A Down" peaked at No. 128 on The Billboard 200 last April, and has sold 689,000 copies in the U.S., according to SoundScan. The album spawned the singles "Spiders" and "Sugar," which peaked at No. 25 and No. 28, respectively, on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.e


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