Happy Go Lucky 

Darius Rucker on Music City, Hooties’s remarkable longevity and that bizarro Burger King commercial he starred in last year

When Hootie & The Blowfish emerged from South Carolina in 1994, the quartet’s genial roots-rock was immediately, suffocatingly embraced by the media and audiences alike.
When Hootie & The Blowfish emerged from South Carolina in 1994, the quartet’s genial roots-rock was immediately, suffocatingly embraced by the media and audiences alike—so much so that by the time the 16 millionth copy of their debut album, Cracked Rear View, was sold, we were all sick to death of them. Hootie could have imploded under the pressure, especially when the band’s follow-ups inevitably failed to match that success. Instead, lead singer Darius Rucker, guitarist Mark Bryan, bass player Dean Felber and drummer Jim “Soni” Sonefeld hung together and kept cranking out new music to a loyal fan base. For their fifth and latest album, last year’s Looking for Lucky, the band recorded in Nashville and wrote with local songwriters. Hootie returns to Music City on Monday, July 3, to play at Starwood Amphitheatre on the Homegrown Tour, with opening acts Cowboy Mouth and Danielle Peck. Scene: What initially drew you here? Scene: What initially drew you here? Rucker: The music. I’ve been listening to country music my whole life. I’ve been saying to this band for years that we should just do the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band thing and make country records. Nashville is a cool place to hang out, and if you can write a song while you’re there, that’s even cooler. We enjoyed writing with Matraca Berg and people like that, and seeing how cool it is to write with other people, because we’d never done it that way before. It’s always been the four of us. I fell in love with collaboration after that. Scene: How has the dynamic among the four of you changed over the years? Rucker: We get along great. It’s been 20 years we’ve been doing this, so you have your fights. Everyone is set where they are and everybody knows who they are—and who they want to be, more importantly. Scene: Do you ever get tired of singing “Hold My Hand” and “Let Her Cry”? Rucker: I think I would if they weren’t so big. You hit the first note, you sing the first word and the crowd loses its mind—and if you were dreading playing it before you started, you ain’t dreading it anymore. That’s why you do it: to make people see you come back and do it again. Scene: How have your goals changed over the years? Rucker: For us, I think our goals now are a lot simpler. We really just want to keep playing until we don’t want to play anymore. Scene: So what was the deal with the Burger King commercial? Rucker: They came to me with it and I said no. I didn’t want to do it. Then after hearing [director] Dave LaChapelle’s vision and knowing how over-the-top it was going to be, I said, “Hell yeah, that’s gonna be fun!” It was so unlike anything I’d ever done. It was a shocker to see me in that. I was shocked the first time I saw it. I got, like, 25 friends over to watch the Daytona 500. We’re sitting there, getting all excited for the race, and the first commercial, I see my face. Everybody in the room is like, ‘Oh, shit!’ I’ll put it this way: no regrets, but I wouldn’t do it again.

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