Rising up from roots in gritty Riverside, California, Alien Ant Farm called its independent debut Greatest Hits. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the band won honors for Best Independent Album at the 1999 L.A. Music Awards and seemed destined to break out.
National prominence came with the 2001 cover of Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal, a release that landed at #23 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and #1 on its Modern Rock Tracks chart. The song was featured in the hit movie American Pie 2 and came just in the nick of time. Guitarist Terry Corso later recalled that his car had been repossessed before the band had a hit single.
En route from Spain to Portugal that year, Alien Ant Farm was involved in a horrific bus crash that killed their driver, left singer Dryden Mitchell with a broken neck and all the band members with various broken bones and cuts. “I have a lot of nerve damage. Dead fingertips, so its hard to play the guitar, and if I move my head down, my arms fall asleep. Weird sensations,” Mitchell later told Rolling Stone.
The band made a successful return two years later. Their truANT album was released by Stone Temple Pilots bassist Robert DeLeo and his guitarist brother Dean. The single These Days was placed prominently in the Madden 2004 football video game, and to support the single, the band shot a video playing on a rooftop outside the 2003 BET Awards. That video captured music luminaries P. Diddy, Nelly, Snoop Dogg and Lil’ Kim, all of whom agreed to allow their images to be used for the video.
truANT was received well by fans and critics, and the band, with everyone healed, embarked on a club tour during the summer of 2003. Corso quit the band that year and was replaced by Victor Camacho.