Ishi Splits In Two: Half Of Ishi Bolts To Form New Band; Other Half Recruits New Members

This weekend, when Ishi performs its as-scheduled set at the Double Wide on Sunday night, fans will no doubt notice something missing: Earlier this week vocalist Taylor Rea and guitarist Rob Bastien announced that they're no longer in the massively popular area band, instead choosing to forge forward with their own project.

"I'm definitely not in the band any more," Rea told DC9 earlier this week, confirming that the band's Homegrown Festival performance was both her and Bastien's last. "I'm not happy. It's really unfortunate. The shows are great and all, but behind the scenes, it's shit. I've enjoyed my time with Ishi. It's unfortunate that I have to say goodbye. But it's time to spread my own wings. John [Mudd] will replace me. I'm gone."

Indeed he will. Bastien, too -- and him first. On Sunday, Mudd says, the frontman and his brother, drummer JJ Mudd, will be joined on stage by Backside Pick guitarist Rocky Ottley. There will be no female vocalist present at this show.

And, no doubt, that should make for an interesting display. Ishi, in many ways, surged to popularity on the strength of the on-stage sexuality displayed by both Rea and Mudd during shows, as well as the ways in which the two complemented each other's efforts.

"It's unfortunate, for sure," Mudd says, choosing, much like Rea, to avoid the specifics of the band's break-up. "It's a definite setback. I did my best to keep them in the loop. It's a part of the business, honestly. We're going to keep hustling the way we have been. I have the utmost confidence in the team we have now."

So, OK: Mudd has a plan. As does, interestingly enough, Rea.

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As for Mudd's plan? Well, it won't really start until after this weekend's show, which, he admits, will feel "different."

"We're not going to have the female sex appeal, that's for sure," he says. "But the energy is still gonna be there. And the songs will be the same, too."

After this weekend, Mudd says he plans on introducing a rotation of female performers -- including area singer-songwriter Becky Middleton and other to-be-auditioned "females that [Mudd has] seen perform that have the stuff to pull it off" -- who will perform with the band as their schedules allow. Come the band's scheduled Friday, June 24, performance at Trees with The Burning Hotels and Air Review, the lineup should be more solidly in place, Mudd says. And, soon enough, the band will start working on a second album, a follow-up to last years Through the Trees debut, for release in 2012. Mudd says former Ishi producer Brad Dale, who dropped off the band's live show shortly after their May 2010 CD release show at Sons of Hermann Hall, will still be involved in the writing of the new material.

"Brad is still a part of the equation," Mudd says.

Most likely not a part of the equation, Mudd says, is the music video for the song "Come Closer," which the band filmed with Rea and Bastien just a few weeks ago at Lower Greenville establishment The Crown & Harp.

Meanwhile, Rea and Bastien, who had together written the few songs Ishi had added into their set since their CD release, expect their new project's first performance to come at some point within the next six months.

"I guarantee it," Rea says, confidently.

And with a very similar confidence that Mudd uses when speaking about Ishi's future, actually. This year, Mudd boasts, the band will (finally) start touring beyond the Metroplex, performing throughout Texas and the Midwest, including a stop at the Wicker Park Festival in Chicago later this summer.

"It's still a fresh wound, but the fortunate thing about all this is that we're still on an amateur level as far as the rest of the country is concerned," Mudd says. "I still believe in Ishi. To me, in my career, this is the biggest band I've been a part of, and the one that certainly had the most momentum. This will be our year."

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