It’s often said you shouldn’t throw out your out-of-style clothing, because they’re bound to be popular again, once a future generation rediscovers them. If that’s the case, it makes sense that flannel shirts and Hootie & the Blowfish are both experiencing a resurgence in popularity in 2019.
Hootie & the Blowfish experienced wild success with their 1994 debut album, “Cracked Rear View,” which made the decline in sales for the 1996 followup, “Fairweather Johnson,” all the more puzzling. Little had changed in the group’s dynamic in-between albums. Recently updated sales figures for “Cracked Rear View” show it remains popular, having gone platinum 21 times where a little more than 2 million copies of “Fairweather” have been sold. After they took an extended break in 2008, frontman Darius Rucker found success — a lot of it — as a solo artist in country music.
So, when Rucker and members of Hootie and the Blowfish announced last year they would reunite for a tour and to record new music, there was a frenzy of excitement, and tickets went fast.
They will perform May 31 at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek in Raleigh, the second stop on the 44-city Group Therapy tour with ‘90s superstars Barenaked Ladies. They’ll head to Charlotte Sept. 5, before ending up where it all began — in Columbia. There they will play three shows Sept. 11-13 at Colonial Life Arena.
So why the fuss? Has a future generation rediscovered the band, or has their fanbase — now older — realized absence makes the heart grow fonder?
Mark Bryan, lead guitarist, is a founding member of the band. He doesn’t have an answer, but he’s happy to see the outpouring of support for the band.
“You don’t really think about that, you just go out and play, and it’s as fun as it ever was,” he tells The News & Observer in a phone interview. “If the people are having as much fun as they used to, that never crosses your mind. There’s a little bit of [public anticipation for the tour] that I was hoping for, maybe even sort of expected, but the level to which people have reacted has been quite a surprise and thrill.”
The News & Observer spoke to Bryan about touring up and down the coast of the Carolinas pre-stardom, and how difficult it may be to schedule a followup to “Group Therapy” anytime soon.
Q: What kind of memories do you have of being a member of a Hootie & the Blowfish when the band was known more for filling bars in the Carolinas than selling out amphitheaters around the country?
A: That time period was sort of the foundation for what we would go on to create. It was time where we would drive a couple hours, find another college town with another great venue, and that started our fan following. We did it all around the Carolinas and Georgia, and then just spread it out from there.
Q: With the members of Hootie having so many interests outside the band, what are the odds of the band touring again in the near future?
A: Yeah, we haven’t gotten that far. We just booked a European tour for October, so that’s cool, but we have not talked past that yet. I think the only thing that we have scheduled past [the current tour] is the release of a documentary on the band.
Q: What kind of areas does the documentary delve into?
A: There’s no angle to it, it’s just about us, as a band. We’d love to release that this year, to go with the tour, but we’re thinking it may be early next year. Then, hopefully, the album could carry into next year. That would be ideal, but nobody has set any plans for the future yet. We’re focused on getting the tour out on the road right now.
Q: You are the creator and host of the PBS series, “Live at the Charleston Music Hall,” a half-hour musical showcase aired weekly on PBS stations nationally. With the first season wrapped, are there any plans for a second season?
A: The answer is yes and no. I am in talks with SCETV [South Carolina Educational Television, the state’s network of PBS stations] about producing a Season 2, which is great. They want to do it, and I want to do it, but right now I’ve been dealing with finishing an album and going on tour. I am also in the middle of trying to figure out what I’m going to do about a business partner for season two; I had one for Season 1, and I don’t have one yet for the second one.
That’s what I figure I need, somebody that can handle [the production] while I’m on tour this summer; they can get a budget started, and all that sort of thing. We’re almost there, but we’re not quite there yet. Obviously it hasn’t been a priority for me right now, because of the album and tour.
Q: As far as booking who appears on the show, do you look at it as a way to help acts that may still need some help breaking nationally, or does name recognition factor into the decision more?
A: Yeah, helping gain national attention for someone who doesn’t necessarily have it yet, like we did on Season 1 for [country music singer-songwriter] Patrick Davis and [Charleston-based alt rock band] Stop Light Observations...we would do it again for kids who were talking about [for Season 2]. Doing episodes with [singer-songwriter] Danielle Howle or [roots rock band] the Blue Dogs, several acts that deserve to be known nationally who aren’t, that’s one element of the of the show.
Another element of the show is just to say, “Hey, this is a great sounding room, and a beautiful venue.” I want to get some national acts in there, too, and showcase the room on it own as almost an actor.
Who: Hootie & the Blowfish with Barenaked Ladies
When: 7:30 p.m., May 31
Where: Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek, 3801 Rock Quarry Road, Raleigh
Cost: Check LiveNation.com for ticket prices.
Info: LiveNation.com or 919-831-6400