You should definitely listen again to Carnival of Rust... well, there are clearly violins, right at the beginning, these are instruments from string section. I'm not a music expert, but I suspect there may be violins there. That was the point of "real instruments".
Awards... well, they are indeed important, but... why exactly Grammys and Billboard Awards? As it was all about being important in USA, whoa. I guess that's what you meant with the "altern rock" genre? I don't really know how American market works, but it seems to be kind of divided into these genres that radio stations actually follow, like urban, urban contemporary, modern rock, dance radio, etc. It's weird.
I know that music is not all about having success worldwide, neither acting like an whatever-genre-band because someone pigeonholed you so.