Hootie & the Blowfish reunite this summer

Hootie & the Blowfish are enjoying the renewed interest in their early-1990s music after fans seemed to drift away for a few years.

Hootie & the Blowfish could easily have made their return after a decade-long hiatus with a tour on which they simply played their hits and fan-favorite album cuts.

Instead, the group will have a new studio album to go with this summer’s reunion tour. Singer Darius Rucker said the need for new music to go with the return of Hootie & the Blowfish was obvious.

“The new album is for those people who are really, really die-hard fans who just loved the music and just want something new,” Rucker said.

The Hootie & the Blowfish reunion has been anticipated for some time. Even as Rucker’s country career took off, he said in multiple interviews that the band would someday tour again and make another album.

It was after the touring cycle for Rucker’s most recent country album, 2017’s “When Was The Last Time,” that things went into motion for the return of Hootie & the Blowfish. Timing played a key role in the choice of 2019 for the big reunion.

Indeed, there seems to have been a reawakening to Hootie & the Blowfish, which includes vocalist/guitarist Rucker, guitarist/pianist Mark Bryan, bass/piano Dean Felber and drummer Jim Sonefeld, in recent years.

If you were a music fan in the ’90s, you know the story. In 1994, Hootie & the Blowfish’s major label debut, the aforementioned “Cracked Rear View,” became as ubiquitous as any album in rock history, selling an astonishing 16 million copies.

The band’s solid follow-up album, “Fairweather Johnson,” did reasonably well, moving 2.3 million units.

But by then a backlash had started to gain steam and before long Hootie & the Blowfish were getting branded as the most uncool band going. The group soldiered on, releasing three more albums, while doing decent business on tours until the 2008 hiatus.

As a recent “Esquire” article — and the sell-out business the reunion tour has been doing — suggests, even some of the more vocal Hootie haters now seem to realize Hootie & the Blowfish weren’t that bad after all.

That’s not news to Rucker, who chalks up the popularity to him including Hootie’s biggest hits in his country shows. It introduced a new generation to the group, and that may be contributing to this summer’s sell-out numbers.

He also thinks it certainly hasn’t hurt to have the Barenaked Ladies — another band with a string of hits from the 1990s and into the 2000s — also on the bill.

The new Hootie & the Blowfish album, which is being produced by Jeff Trott (Sheryl Crow, Stevie Nicks, Joe Cocker) came together quite seamlessly from the sound of things, with the band choosing from 80 songs that were in play for the album.

Rucker said that even though the group had gone a decade and a half since making new music, the four band members settled right back into their collaborative writing routine.“I

If You Go

What: Hootie & the Blowfish.

Where: Ak-Chin Pavilion, 2121 N. 83rd Ave.

When:  7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 19.

Tickets:  $20 and up.

Info:  Phoenix, livenation.com.

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