Hootie & the Blowfish playing 'Musical Chairs'
Declining popularity doesn't depress Southern rockers
Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish
January 20, 2000
Web posted at: 3:26 p.m. EST (2026 GMT)
By Donna Freydkin
Reporting for CNN Interactive
(CNN) -- Back in the old days -- 1995 -- Hootie & the Blowfish had much to hoot about.
The band's debut album, "Cracked Rear View," had sold millions, and vocalist Darius Rucker, guitarist Mark Bryan, bassist Dean Felber and drummer Jim Sonefeld had earned two Grammys.
The release, which has gone platinum 16 times over, is still the sixth best-selling album of the past decade, outpacing Garth Brooks and the Backstreet Boys, according to SoundScan, which tracks album sales.
Rear views aside, the Columbia, South Carolina, band -- known for its catchy stew of bluesy Southern rock -- could have used a crystal ball. Though the affable quartet's 1996 follow-up "Fairweather Johnson" went to No. 1 on the Billboard album charts, it only went triple platinum -- meaning it sold a comparatively paltry 3 million copies. And 1998's platinum "Musical Chairs" was shoved aside by the equally tuneful likes of the Backstreet Boys and Shania Twain.
But Rucker insists the band doesn't play the numbers game.
"We love to play. We're good at what we do," says Rucker. "Seriously, we want to be playing 10 years from now, doing a tour and being able to play amphitheaters. Even if it's to the same people every year, like Jimmy Buffett fans.
"It's more relaxing after 10 years of thinking that we'd never get a record deal. And after doing as well as the first record did, we feel like we can make records whenever we want. That's the biggest change for us as a band."
| "MUSICAL CHAIRS"|
Hitting it big
Rucker and Bryan started in Columbia as the Wolf Brothers in fall 1985. By May 1986 the current lineup was set, and the four toured almost constantly for the next few years. Eventually, they built a local fan base and signed with Atlantic Records in 1994. In July of that year, "Cracked Rear View" hit store shelves. A year later, the band found itself on the cover of Rolling Stone.
When Hootie & the Blowfish ruled the charts, nary an hour went by without a Hootie hit on the radio. There was "Let Her Cry," a mournful paean to doomed love; "Hold My Hand," a sweet ditty about fledgling relationships; and perennial pop favorite "Only Wanna Be With You."
As Rucker acknowledges, the hit overload contributed to Hootie overkill.
"We knew it was gonna happen, and it happened exactly as we thought it would happen," he says.
Hootie had a choice, Rucker says. It could chase the vision of a "Cracked Rear View" and release copycat albums in the hope of striking gold. Or it could just go about the business of making music.
"We always just wanted to make records," Rucker says, " so that's what we did. We always make the record we want to make, no matter what.
"'Cracked Rear View' was a phenomenon. You look at the records you consider creative of the '90s and 'Cracked Rear View' sold more than all of them. That's just one of those things. That's just something else. It won't happen again. Now we just want to make the records, have our fan base and go on tour whenever we feel like playing."
Gimme a break
The band is now on hiatus, according to its Web site, with Bryan putting the finishing touches on his solo album set for release in March, "30 on the Rail," and Rucker recording an R&B album in New York with producers such as Lil' Mo and Jazz.
"It definitely won't be a rock record," Rucker says. "If I wanted to make a rock record, I'd just do one with Hootie."
Rucker insists there's no talk of a split, saying Hootie plans to release its fourth album next year.
The band "finished a tour a few months ago and now we're sitting around and making babies, working on records," Rucker says. "I have a daughter, so no, I'm not making any babies! I'm just hanging out in New York."
But next year, it's all about hitting the road to get back in touch with the band's loyal cadre of fans.
"We have a really extensive Web site," says Rucker. "I just got into the Internet maybe a week ago. I can pull up the Miami Dolphins and the Hootie site. And I looked at it, and there's this area where people leave messages to each other.
"And the age difference -- you've got women in their late 50s and ... kids just going into the sixth grade. The people that are Hootie fans are Hootie fans. They love us, and we love playing for them. We definitely don't do this for any other reason."
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Hootie & the Blowfish aim for an encore
April 23, 1996
Morissette, Hootie big Grammy winners
February 29, 1996
Grammy nominations highlight new faces
January 4, 1996
Official Hootie & the Blowfish site
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