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For those of you who don’t recognize his name, Darius Rucker was and still is the frontman for the wildly successful 90’s band Hootie and the Blowfish. His mellow baritone fueled such songs as “Hold My Hand” and “Only Wanna Be With You” to the top of the charts. Born in Charleston, SC his early influences were R&B, and Rucker was influenced by artists like Otis Redding and Al Green. So what a surprise then, when he suddenly released a country album Learn To Live, which also climbed to the top of the charts with its flagship single “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It”.


Dish had a chance to speak with Rucker about his music, and so much more, as he travelled across the country as part of the recent Paisley Party Tour. Here’s what he had to say: 


Darius Rucker - Dish Magaazine

Where are you calling us from?


D - Actually the airport in Charleston.


How long have you been harboring ambitions of being a country artist?


D - Oh god, it’s been years since I’ve been talking about it, since I first heard Foster and Lloyd sing Crazy Over You in ’86. I told the other guys in the band that I was going to do it. Those guys were talking about how we had been on the road forever. We were just tired of going out every summer, and everybody wanted to do something different, and this is what I wanted to do.


Where there ever any talks about taking Hootie country?


D - Oh, no. I think when we do our thing again it will be rock.


Do you have any other artistic dreams that we haven’t seen yet?


D - You know, everything I have wanted to do, I do.  I have this thing that I do for charities, but I don’t think I will ever record that. You know, singing is just what I do.


What is really different about the writing style of country compared to rock?


D - That was the crazy thing. I didn’t feel like I had to do anything different at all. The big difference was having to co-write; you know, with Hootie you go out, you write a song and you bring it in and everybody does their thing, so that was crazy, but everything else is about the same.


Did Capitol come to you or you to them?


D –Actually, I was talking with my manager, Scott Magee. I said I wanted to do a country thing, and we didn’t think there was a chance to get a country deal to be honest with you.  He just happened to have dinner with the president of the label and they started talking about the Hootie touring business and how great it was, and he said, ‘If he ever wants to do a country record let me know’, and Scott said to him ‘You know, he is thinking of doing a country record.’ And that was that.


Darius Rucker sings - Dish Magazine

Do you feel like you’re starting all over in the country music business or does it just feel like a continuation of your previous career?


D - It feels like starting over. You know, doing something new, you gotta pay your dues. Be the first guy on the tour, and then just all the other stuff. But it’s a cool thing for me because it took 9 years for Hootie and the Blowfish to get a record deal, so I’m okay with being this new guy, you know, a new artist. We just wanted to get a Top 15 or a Top 10, and see what happens. If we’d get in the Top 10, Top 15 they would let me make another record, release another single maybe. But that song [Don’t Think I Don’t Think About You] just won’t die, it won’t die. I heard it on the ride over here.


You had a pretty long and successful career. Is there anybody that you want to work with yet that you haven’t?


D - Oh, god yeah, there a lot of people out there. I would love to work with Carrie Underwood. I was telling my wife about that the other day, that there are not a lot of us guys that can keep up with her in country music. George Jones had Tammy Wynette, everybody had their duet partner, and I want to be hers. 


Would you prefer to record songs that you wrote and feel okay about, or songs that are great that somebody else wrote?


D -Oh, I went into this thing where I said, ‘you guys write me 13 songs that are the greatest songs I’ve ever heard and I will record all 13 songs’. But I tend to, I like co-writing and everything, but I tend to just write better solo. Like the song I Hope They Get To Me In Time, I really love that song, I think we really did a great job of it, but I think you can tell I didn’t write it.


Do you think people still think you’re Hootie?


D - No, I think people just do it now to be annoying, but I’m just glad they do it. I’m really just glad that they are calling me and I’m glad that people still know who I am.


You’re being coined as the first African-American artist since Charlie Pride. How do you feel about that?


D -You know, I’m just happy to be compared to those artists, you know, it’s a great thing. I didn’t make the record for that, but to be a part of that is unbelievable.


Being on the Paisley Party Tour, did you ever get caught by one of Brad Paisley’s notorious pranks? 

Darius RUcker Former Lead Singer of Hootie and the Blowfish


D – Oh, he got me, he got me good. It was the last night of the tour. There is a lead truck driver that looks a lot like me, and the band was on the side of the stage getting ready to go on, and I hear the announcer say, ‘Lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish Darius Rucker’, and I look up and my band starts playing and there is this bus driver running around the catwalk lip syncing, and everybody is looking around and it’s so funny. And in the middle of the song he just stops and walks off like he’s real pissed off, and I hear these people right behind me in the stands ‘Well, he sucked. It was really funny.


When it comes to music in general, is there anybody that you would still get all giddy about if they called you to work with them?


D - Oh, god. Al Greene! I would get very giddy if he called. REM! I still want to do another song with Radney Foster. When he called me the first time I was giddy, and I’m sure if he called me a second time I would be giddy. You know I’m still a fan at heart.


Was your family on board when you decided you where going country?


D - Oh absolutely. You know, it was just whatever I wanted to do. We listen to a lot of country radio, and they saw what it could be, so everybody is real happy.


Does the family get to come with you on tour?


D - Yes, I have a wife and three kids. There are some places this year, you know, country guys get it so good, they tour on weekends. You get to go on the road for 3 or 4 days, then you get to be home for 3 or 4 days. That makes it easier to take your kids out then; it’s easier to take your kids on a 4 day run then getting on a bus in July and coming back in November.


Do you ever think your kids will want to get into the music business?


D – Sure, if they wanted to play, yeah, I could coach them if they wanted to be musicians. I still think the music business is a great business, not as good as it used to be, but it’s still a great business.


Darius Rucker of the Paisley Party Tour

In terms of country music, are there any goals that you have set that when you achieve them you will be like, ‘okay, I’ve finally made it’?


D - No, cause I’m not really looking at this career as making it or not. I wanted to come into this record and have some success, and I think I’ve already made it, you know what I mean? I’ve already made it in the music business so now I’m just trying to have a new career.


Do you ever see yourself getting to a place where you are just like, I don’t want to write any more songs or sing anymore?


D - Oh, I’m sure. I’m sure people have said this, but I don’t see myself being 55 and 60 and still wanting to go out on the road. If I’m 60 and going on the road and playing in front of 20,000 people a night, I’m sure that will be a different.  But now I think it’s safe to say I would rather be home playing golf and watching the kids, watching my son get out of the house.


With your success and Hootie’s, is there actually a chance of there being a CMT Crossroads between Darius Rucker and Hootie and the Blowfish?


D - (laughing hysterically) It could be if I had some more singles. I think I would want to be crossed with like Jamey Johnson. I want to do a real artistic one.


Check out Darius Rucker at / Issue 110 - September 8727
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