Hootie &amp; amp; the Blowfish endure without hype
Though their buzz has faded, they continue to enjoy and perform the music.
By JOHN BENSON
CLEVELAND -- Album sales don't lie.
Whereas Peter Frampton's career may be construed as more of a punch line from the seventies, somebody somewhere bought a gazillion copies of "Frampton Comes Alive."
In many ways, the same phenomenon has occurred with Hootie & amp; the Blowfish and its 16-times platinum 1995 debut album "Cracked Rear View," which to this day has outsold such classic 15-times-platinum albums as Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon," Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." and Guns N' Roses' "Appetite for Destruction."
"I don't know, it's an age-old story," said Hootie guitarist Mark Bryan. "The more records you sell, the more detractors you have also. It's just the way it is. We're not the only band that happened to. In fact, I remember in the eighties, it was not cool to like Bon Jovi and I was right on that train. I thought they were awful. I was slaggin' them and now I respect them a lot. They are a great band, no question about it."
Decreasing the buzz
Propelled from the mountain of success nearly as soon as it arrived, this South Carolina band couldn't live up to its hype -- and who could? While its first album was filled with radio hits galore ("Only Wanna Be With You," "Hold My Hand," "Time" and "Let Her Cry"), the same couldn't be said for the three albums that followed "Cracked Rear View," which has sold over 25 million copies worldwide, making it the 12th best-selling disc of all time.
By the end of the '90s, the fun-loving band found itself back to being just another working rock outfit with this amazing feather in its cap. Yet nearly a decade ago, it became unfashionable to listen to Hootie and to an extent that mindset still exists today.
"I understand there are people who aren't fond of the band because they just haven't really listened or don't like our sound," Bryan said. "I know to this day I can't listen to REO Speedwagon. So, I'm sure some people think we're cheesy and that's fine."
Focus on the music
Cheesy or not, the members of Hootie & amp; the Blowfish could care less. Or at least that's what Bryan said. Instead, the band is focusing its attention on the two things it can control: recording and touring. Having returned to the concert stage two years ago after a three year hiatus, Hootie is on the road this summer in support of its latest disc "Looking for Lucky," which is due out Aug. 9. The band comes through Northeast Ohio with a show Monday at the House of Blues.
"Looking for Lucky" is somewhat of an album of change for the band, which took a more pointed view toward political and social messages. Bryan characterizes songs such as "One Love," "State Your Peace," "The Killing Stone" and "Another Year's Gone By" as being socially conscious in the same vein as, say, Bruce Springsteen or U2. In fact, it's the message songwriting of these Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees that appears to have influenced the future of Hootie & amp; the Blowfish.
"As we mature, we also mature as songwriters," Bryan said. "And it's like, I think in the past, if I tried to write [those] kind of songs, they would come out kind of corny. But now that I'm older, and more mature, I've found a voice and a way to say it. I think it's something that happens with age. And all of our favorite artists and writers have those periods where they grow as writers and I feel like we've done that on this record."