By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
For every Funland, whose members have repeatedly turned down lucrative offers to reunite for just one show, there's a New Bohemians, back together to perform at Gypsy Tea Room on October 23, and reportedly, set to return to the studio to record their first new album in almost a decade. The re-formed version of the band -- singer Edie Brickell, percussionist John Bush, guitarist Kenny Withrow, and drummer Brandon Aly -- already recorded a couple of new songs last October for a best-of collection that looks as though it will never see domestic release. (The disc came out earlier this year in England.) That Geffen Records isn't rushing to put out a best-of that sounds more like a rest-of isn't shocking. And neither is the fact that the band is playing together again.
Face it: More often than not, when a band says it's playing its last show ever, it usually means it's playing its last show...until the next one. There are very few local groups that can't forgive and forget and return to the stage and the studio again. The return of Hagfish, then, is not exactly a surprise. The group supposedly performed for the final time on April 2, yet less than a year later, the band is already back together. Surprise, surprise.
And just in time too, since Coldfront Records, the label that put out Hagfish's Caught Live a few months ago, is set to release two new discs from the band before the end of the year: a B-sides and rarities album (including a cover of The Undertones' "Teenage Kicks") and the official release of Hagfish's interview on KROQ-FM's Loveline, formerly included only on promotional copies of "Happiness," a single from 1995's ...Rocks Your Lame Ass.
Still, it's a little too early to say that the group's gig at Trees on December 10 is the beginning of a full-scale reunion. In fact, bassist Doni Blair would rather you didn't.
"I don't really know," Blair admits. "We've been talking. I don't want to come out and say it's anything more than it is. We're gonna play the show and go from there. I'd like to do some more stuff, but I don't wanna speak for the whole band. I know [lead singer] George [Reagan] has some new songs, and maybe we'll play some of those at the show. Maybe we'll end up recording them, but I don't want to say too much until I know how the other guys feel about it."
Since leaving Hagfish behind, Blair has kept busy, working at w3cd.com, the online record store started by Carpe Diem Records boss Allan Restrepo, as well as performing with his new surf-rock combo, The Mag 7. The band, which also features drummer Scott Brayfield and guitarist Dan Phillips (both of Slowride, whose debut EP Blair helped produce), will play at Club Clearview on October 16 and release its first album, Eighth Round Knockout, in a few weeks. "I've wanted to play this shit for years," Blair confesses.
The rest of the group has also moved on to other projects in Hagfish's absence. Guitarist Zach Blair, Doni's brother, joined shock rockers GWAR, who play at Deep Ellum Live on October 14 with The Misfits. Singer George Reagan turned his quieter side band, Tele, into his main focus, happy to be off the road so he can spend more time with his two children. Drummer Tony Barsotti has been playing with Pelicans, the new group from former Buck Pets Chris Savage and Ricky Pearson. Blair thinks that Hagfish can coexist with all these other bands, that returning to the band wouldn't necessarily mean abandoning everything else. He's not looking for much, just something.
"I'd like to release one record and play a couple of times a year," he says. "How's that gonna kill us? It's not. George can still do Tele and hang out with his kids. I can still do The Mag 7. That's all I want."