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Mark Bryan and fans on a Hootie & the Blowfish tour in August 1995. Mic Smith

In January 1994, six months before the release of Cracked Rear View, longstanding Free Times music freelancer Kevin Oliver sat down with Hootie & the Blowfish guitarist Mark Bryan. It was known at that point that the band had signed with Atlantic Records, a major label deal that, Oliver noted, had the group “poised to break on a much wider scale.” Below are a few highlights from Bryan’s responses.

About That Name

It is kind of a hard name to take seriously. We really thought that might be one of our dilemmas along the line. However, most people in positions that count have said there is something about it that they like. Once they saw the numbers we were drawing at our live shows, and the amount of discs we sold, they finally took it seriously.

Evolution of a Band

The evolution of the band follows exactly that of the members. The more original material we wrote, the more we realized, ‘Hey, we could do this.’ We’ve been focused on original music ever since, about four years now. We’ve always had the college crowd, but in the last two years, ever since we started putting tapes out, to see people singing along has been incredible. As a songwriter that is the biggest reward, to be able to relate to people.

Hootie on the Radio

The weird thing about our songs being on the radio is the context that they are in, hearing them in between a John Hiatt tune and The Replacements. And also to hear a commercial as a Hootie song fades, never heard that before. That’s the strange part, but it’s a cool feeling, I would say cool rather than weird. Also we are lucky as hell that four commercial radio stations played the disc in regular rotation — two in Columbia, 96 Wave in Charleston, and one other.

Good Music Is Good Music

I really like the fact that the stuff we listened to in college, that sort of new, what used to be considered ‘alternative,’ is now popular. I’m holding quotes up here, because I can’t stand that label. I can’t stand any labels, to be honest with you. Stuff like Pearl Jam, The Gin Blossoms, that’s great music, I think. Sincere, heartfelt, guitar rock, which is our favorite stuff. To see that become popular, to me, is such a blessing. Whether or not that has had anything to do with our success I don’t know. It’s not like we were riding that wave — we’ve been doing this all along, and I guess a lot of other people in our generation have, too, because now it’s really kicking in and it’s so exciting to see.

Just Say No to Labels

Labels stink, don’t use them. Just listen to the music, and if you like it, cool. That’s what I hope is going to happen with Hootie. I pray that when our album comes out that enough people are going to say, ‘Hey, I like this band.’ That’s it, not, ‘They sound like this,’ or, They’re trying to do this.’ Screw that, no we’re not.

What: Hootie & the Blowfish

Where: Colonial Life Arena, 801 Lincoln St.

When: Sept. 11-13, 7:30 p.m. each night

With: Barenaked Ladies

Price: $29.50 and up

More: 803-576-9200, coloniallifearena.com 

Reach Kalyn Oyer at 843-371-4469. Follow her on Twitter @sound_wavves.

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