If you were even alive in the ‘90s, there’s no chance you’re not familiar with some of Hootie and the Blowfish’s biggest songs. Singles like “Only Wanna be With You” and “Let Her Cry” defined not just the band’s career, but the decade, and they remain hugely popular to this day.
After putting out a handful of albums, the group went on a relative hiatus as frontman Darius Rucker pursued a country career and the other members explored other creative endeavors. As their debut album Cracked Rear View turns 25, the band is back and ready to play some of their most successful songs for fans during an anniversary tour.
Spoke with Hootie member Jim Sonefeld about what it feels like to return to the spotlight and what recording feels like now, a quarter of a century after they first started making music together.
The first few Hootie albums, takes to a period of time...Rock music has changed a lot since then. Does this new music sound more like what people remember, or is it something completely different? Where did you guys go with this?
Jim Sonefeld: Well, I think music is created differently these days. After you get it out of your heart and your fingertips under the instrument, from there out, it's just so vastly different then it was when we started making records. Creating a digital recording, and Pro Tools or any of the software that's used in creation now, just changes the whole game.
It's been subtle for most people who are listening, like yourself. I'm sure nobody noticed the day music production changed. The way you make records is different, so that changes how you sound. I'll say this, it's all from the heart. Ultimately, when Darius opens his mouth, a lot of it is either going to sound like Hootie and the Blowfish or Darius Rucker. We like to put out songs that are from the heart and headed toward somebody else's hearts. There's not a lot of flash and lights and bullshit. We like to write from our hearts and this album is represented of that again.
It's an album with a whole bunch of geezers, but mind you, geezers still have hearts, technically.
After this break, are you at all nervous to get back on the road? Expectations of some people might be pretty high.
Sonefeld: I'm interested to see when we catch our groove, when we hit optimum speed, because we haven't gone out and done a half dozen or multiple shows in a two or three-week period in a while. So I look forward to hitting a groove, hitting a place where you go, "Okay, this is normal now. I'm used to it. I'm used to the fans, I'm used to pace of living, I'm used to the travel."
Darius, for one, has continued to travel with his country act, so he's already in that sort of shape, and it's a mentality as much as anything. I don't mind the mentality of playing a bunch of shows and getting out in front of people, but I think traveling style is something to get used to and it'll all be new for me.
You're going on this tour, which is the anniversary of your debut album, but you've got the new record coming, so will you plan on touring that after at some point?
Sonefeld: I don't think the fans will see the whole record until the later part of the tour or even after the tour.
Sonefeld: If that's what you're asking.
Well, usually you tour just after an album comes out, so I wonder if after you're done with this anniversary tour, are you going to do another one now that everyone has the new album?
Sonefeld: Oh right. So our plan right now is... I just got a text from somebody as I hopped off the plane this morning that said, "So I guess you're touring in Europe." I said, "Oh, really?" We've been talking about it, but I failed to recognize the announcement was today.
So if you're on social media today, you’d see what I didn't see, which was Hootie's touring England and Ireland and Scotland for a couple weeks after the U.S. leg is done.
Sonefeld: But I'd be surprised if this album release and these tours didn't birth something greater. I wouldn't be surprised if they birthed an opportunity of some sorts. I don't necessarily know that we'd have to take it, an offer. I don’t think we're all looking for our careers to be jumpstarted, necessarily. This tour is about wanting to do something for our fans and ourselves with new music and it's about getting to see them at the shows. But I expect in 2020, we may be getting back to the normal that we've had for the last 10 years, which is, I think, Darius making a country record and everybody else doing their own stuff.
Photo Credit: Hootie And The Blowfish