The Wallflowers, the headliners of Famously Hot New Year, have a catalog that includes songs that get stuck in your head.
Go ahead and sing some of “One Headlight,” and while doing so, please attempt lead singer Jakob Dylan’s cool, disaffected rasp. Or belt out the chorus of “6th Avenue Heartache” — And the same black line that was drawn on you / Was drawn on me/ And now it’s drawn me in — a song that featured Counting Crows singer Adam Duritz. Now, wait five minutes.
Both the songs were on The Wallflowers’ 1996 album “Bringing Down the Horse.” “One Headlight” won Grammy Awards for best rock performance by a duo or group with vocal and best rock song.
It took The Wallflowers four years to release the follow-up record, 2000’s “(Breach),” which included “Sleepwalker.” The video took a jab at Dylan’s superstar status, a label, that as the son of prolific songwriter Bob Dylan, he’s had since birth.
Even if The Wallflowers haven’t been ubiquitous on MTV or the radio as it was 15 years ago, the band continues to record music. The band released “Glad All Over” in October.
For Dylan, there’s still room to grow as a musician — and as a band. And the challenge of songwriting remains the same.
“There’s so much territory to cover,” he said. “The key is to not make records that are reactionary to the last record you did. There’s no finish line. It’s a ride.”
The single “Reboot the Mission,” released for free in July, was inspired by The Clash and features the English punk band’s Mick Jones. It was The Wallflowers’ first new single in seven years. Dylan isn’t ever in a rush to get music out because he makes music for himself and the band.
“It has to start with playing something you want to hear,” he continued. “It’s just that time of the year you wanted to do those songs. Maybe you disagree with them a year later.”
The songs on “Seeing Things,” his 2008 debut solo record produced by the enigmatic Rick Rubin, were what he wanted to hear at the time. Whereas with The Wallflowers, the songs are shrouded in layers of sound and effects. Dylan’s voice is simply another instrument to be mixed.
On “Seeing Things,” his voice was more exposed.
“That was something for me to do that the band wasn’t going to work on,” he explained. “I didn’t want to hire a bunch of guys to sound like The Wallflowers. It was more really about the songs themselves, more about the songs being up front.”
The band took a hiatus for a few years last decade. Lucrative touring contracts have enticed bands to reunite, but for The Wallflowers, who will tour with Eric Clapton next year, it’s about more than gate receipts. Besides, not every rock group can enjoy the duration of say, The Rolling Stones, which is in the midst of celebrating a half century as a band.
“We took a break, which was good for us. I think we would’ve broken up if we hadn’t,” Dylan said. “Not even the Rolling Stones have kept it together. That’s not a great template. Maybe U2, how long have those guys been together?”
The organizers of Famously Hot New Year are seeking to make New Year’s Eve in Columbia a big deal. Forgive Dylan if he views the event as just another show in front of an anticipating crowd.
“I’m glad to be a part of it,” he said. “We always (give it our all). That’s a given. The situation always dictates what happens. It’s the stuff you’re not prepared for, that’s what always makes it interesting.”
If you go
A map of the venue
Famously Hot New Year
Parking is free in all city garages. Here is a list of the garages in close proximity to FHNY:
The center of the second annual Famously Hot New Year will be at the corner of Main and Gervais streets in front of the South Carolina State House, a change from Main and Hampton streets. The move was necessary to provide a better viewing experience and so that more gate entries and beverage vendors could be added to shorten lines, thus alleviating a significant complaint about the inaugural event.
The fireworks, to be displayed at midnight of the State House, will be more dynamic.
The city of Columbia’s ice rink, at Boyd Plaza in front of the Columbia Museum of Art, at the corner of Hampton and Main streets, will extend its operating hours to 1 a.m.
If you want to watch football, stay in The Zone to watch college football bowl games.
The 1100 and 1200 blocks of eastbound Gervais Street, in front of the South Carolina State House, will close at noon Sunday.
The 1100 and 1200 blocks of westbound Gervais Street, the 1100 and 1200 blocks of Lady Street and the 1200 and 1300 blocks of Main Street will close at 8 a.m. Monday.
All roads will be open at 8 a.m. Tuesday.