The Suburbs were formed in the western suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1977 following introductions by Chris Osgood of the Suicide Commandos. Following live performances, they released The Suburbs on the Twin/Tone label (the label’s first release) in early 1978. The record was a nine-song 7-inch red vinyl EP. The band also saw two songs, “Urban Guerrillas” and “Ailerons O.K.”, included on the compilation Big Hits of Mid-America, Volume Three. Band guitarist Bruce C. Allen did the art direction for the compilation.
The band’s popularity increased during the early to mid 1980s, and during this time, their new wave dance sound, eclectic lyrics, and stage presence gained a following that broke out of the Midwest and reached both coasts. In 1980 Twin/Tone released their first full length LP, In Combo.
The single “World War III” (and its B-side, “Change Agent”) showed development of the band’s songwriting abilities and improved sound. A year later they released the double album Credit In Heaven which added elements of jazz, funk, and disco to the mix. The single “Music for Boys” was taken from the record and became a radio hit.
In 1982 the band released a 12-inch single “Waiting,” which frequently found its way onto dance club playlists. An EP Dream Hog followed on Twin/Tone, featuring three new songs and a remix of “Waiting” on the B-side, all produced by Steven Greenberg of Funkytown and Lipps Inc fame.
Greenberg then brought the Suburbs to the attention of Mercury Records, which added them to their roster in 1983. Mercury started by re-issuing Dream Hog. By this time, the band’s live performances were muscular and funky, attracting rabid fans and keeping the band busy as an opening act for the likes of Iggy Pop and The B-52′s, as well as headliners in their own right. In 1983 Polygram released Love is the Law, a harder-rocking album that included a horn section and some of their most off-beat lyrics, also produced by Steven Greenberg. In 1986 the Suburbs signed with A&M Records and released The Suburbs produced by Prince‘s Revolution drummer Bobby Z (Robert Brent). Frustrated by a lack of radio play and abandoned by the major labels, the band broke up in 1987.
In 1992 Twin/Tone released Ladies and Gentlemen, The Suburbs Have Left the Building, a best-of compilation, and in 1994 a live record Viva! Suburbs!. The Suburbs reunited during this period and played numerous shows in the Twin Cities, and have played on and off since that time including opening once more for the B-52′s in 2003.
Summer of 2002 saw the much-anticipated re-issues of the albums In Combo, Credit In Heaven and Love Is The Law on CD for the first time (issued on the band’s own Beejtar Records – distributed by Universal). In late 2003 the band issued Chemistry Set: The Songs Of The Suburbs 1977 – 1987 (a best of CD with a few bonus tracks and a DVD of their 2002 performances at Minneapolis’ First Avenue).
In 2004 Chan Poling formed The New Standards with John Munson and Steve Roehm.