Andrew "Hellmouth" Gray hasn't been a performing member of Hoots and Hellmouth since Labor Day, when he started teaching English again in West Philly. But his departure begs many questions. Would the band keep the Hellmouth in their name? Will Gray play at their show tonight at World Cafe Live? And what does the future hold? Turns out the answers are "yes," "yes," and "it's complicated."
I dropped Sean Hoots a line on the road to find out more. He reportsthe show tonight will be not only Gray's last, but the group's first in Philly with the new overall lineup â which features Hoots (of course), mandolinist / crazy guy Rob Berliner (of course), regular bassist / singer Todd Erk and new vocalist / drummer Mike Reilly. Wait, drummer? Yes, yes, Hoots explained all of this in his super-comprehensive response, which touched on the band's Kickstarter fundraising campaign for their next record (now that they're no longer on Drexel's Mad Dragon Records) and the Tumblr you should follow to preview the band's newest songs.
Read below to see what Hoots had to say.
...about Gray's departure: "He was a teacher before the band, and I think he just needed to get back to it. It's what he's built for, for sure. The parting was entirely amicable. We want him to pursue the life that's right for him, and vice versa. No bad blood at all...we still hang out when we're at home."
...about tonight's show: "We're all kinda lookin' at it as his last big blow-out with us, so it'll be super spectacular and meaningful and powerful and fun. It'll likely be the last time we ever perform his tunes on stage (barring any 'reunion' type shows down the line). Whether by tear or sweat, I suspect there won't be a dry eye in the house."
...wait, drums?: "Yup...drums! We still use the stomp boards, of course. And now we also have 4 vocals! The sound is getting more powerful and dynamic. We're touring right now, and the shows have been fiery fun...can't wait to bring it home."
...about the next Hoots and Hellmouth album being the first without Hellmouth: "I'm helming the ship as far as writing goes. Andrew's departure means that I'll be able to showcase a softer/quieter side of my writing, as well...really looking forward to that. We have a whole slew of new tunes both quiet and raucous, and we have plans to record in December with Jim Roll out in Ann Arbor, MI. Should be fun. We just started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for said recording."
...about other unexpected oddities: "I have a whole solo project in the works that'll combine folkish songwriting with R & B vocalizing and electronic beats. Oh yeah! I have a couple solo shows on the books coming up...night before thanksgiving at the Tin Angel and December 4 at Studio 34 in West Philly. Will probably start releasing tunes by January. 2011 is gonna be a year of mucho music from me."
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