Summer, 1992: radio and MTV are abuzz with the sound and sight of four guys from New York City. In the Spin Doctors' stinging guitars, exuberantly visceral, funky rhythms and infectious, stylish vocals and lyrics were life and a palpable freedom that comes from a band doing what they were made to do. And it was good-damn good, actually, to the tune of eight million units sold of Pocketful of Kryptonite, two massive hits ("Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" and "Two Princes"), appearances at Woodstock '94 and Glastonbury, co-credit (along with Blues Traveler, Phish and Widespread Panic) as pioneers of the now-massive neo-hippie jam band movement, and the pinnacle of pop music success: the cover of the Rolling Stone.
Perfect, right? Not necessarily. The band was miserable, their tight-knit camaraderie unraveling day by day. After Ten million albums worth of sudden, dramatic success, tensions roiled and boiled over, culminating in the departure of guitarist Eric Schenkman in 1994. Two years later, bassist Mark White exited and vocalist Chris Barron lost his voice due to vocal cord paralysis.
The Spin Doctors had effectively imploded.
Fast forward to the new millennium. Drummer Aaron Comess receives a call from the owner of the renowned New York City club The Wetlands, requesting that Spin Doctors reconvene the original lineup for the club's historic final show. The Spins helped put the club on the map with their live EP Homebelly Groove and agreed to play the date, albeit with qualms. Barron, whose voice had returned, admits he just wasn't feelin' it-at first.
"I did the Wetlands gig 'cause I didn't wanna be the guy who didn't do it," he says speaking candidly. "I think we all went into it with a certain amount of curiosity, a certain amount of excitement and a certain amount of trepidation."
Did it. That's one way to put it. When the band gathered for what would be their only night of rehearsal it was, as these stories seem to go, magic. Tensions dissipated and the music flowed. "It was as though the music was waiting for us," Barron says.
What love for music and each other that had leaked out during the band's prolonged deconstructive surgery rolled back in waves during the sold-out Wetlands show. They remembered why they liked each other as people and recaptured their musical alchemy-the two qualities that drove their multiplatinum music (which, in accordance with the Theory of Insanely Catchy Sound, still plays in our heads a decade later).
"We all walked away feeling really good about it," says Comess. "I know I walked away just thinkin' Wow…this is a great band-there's a magical chemistry here. It just reminded me how much fun it was playin' with these guys."
And so the one-off begat a mini-tour, which begat a summer tour in 2002 and the realization there was no better time for the Spin Doctors to officially reconvene-as friends who make awesome music together. To that end, they've implemented plans for another summer tour and agreed to "…make a record and make a go of this, see where it takes us."
The Spin Doctors are here to play, play great songs and deliver them in funky, boundary-taunting concert context that can eat hours like minutes (reason numero uno that they've helped to spawn an entire scene).
Comess puts it succinctly: "The Spin Doctors are back. The original band, with a fresh attitude and some pretty cool new tunes. To be honest, we're having a ball!"
Barron puts it in perspective, relating a story from the Spin Doctors' salad days. The band had been trying to break into a popular deuce of clubs, Mondo Cane and Mondo Perso for $500 on weekends-a princely sum for a hungry band. The Doctors eventually cracked Mondo Cane, and the aftershow afterglow proved to be a defining moment.
It worked out to $100 per band member, plus their manager, Jason Richardson. Barron hadn't seen that much money since he'd moved to NYC, and had been dining and dashing at restaurants or borrowing money to get by. Now, cash in hand, he and his mates marched around the corner to the Triumph Diner on Bleeker Street.
"I ordered a T-bone steak, a double-thick chocolate milkshake and a side of coleslaw-just 'cause I could," he grins. "That was the richest, probably, I've ever felt, you know? I don't think I ever really felt richer than at that moment. I think that kinda sums up this band. We were always like, "If we rule the world, great. But let's make a living, playing music. Then we'll be loving life."