erin petrie interviews the ‘hick pop’ band …
They’re a little older, a bit more mellow and spread out across the East Coast, but From Good Homes is still rocking the stages of the tri-state area with their signature “Hick Pop” more than 20 years after they first started playing together.
Hailing from rural Northwestern New Jersey, From Good Homes built a following and released several records in the ’90s before disbanding by the end of the decade. But for the third year in a row, they’ll return to the Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, N.J. for their annual reunion show on Saturday, Dec. 17.
The band members are busy with their individual projects but they got together to play several dates this year, including at the Dave Matthews Band Caravan and SteelJam Festival. Pop-Break’s Erin Petrie spoke to bassist Brady Rymer this week to find out what it was like to get back together after a long hiatus and what may be next for the band.
Pop-Break: This is the third year in a row that the band is doing a reunion show at the Wellmont Theatre. What brings you back each year?
From Good Homes: Well a couple of things. I guess the fans always bring us back and you know, the love of playing music together. The band — the five of us you know, the little community, the family that we have. We don’t play that often throughout the year so this an annual kind of reunion, even though the reunion is now 12 years old. Well its the third reunion I guess. But we had such a great time at the first one that we said ah lets just do this every year and stay in touch.
PB: So now you guys were on a 10-year hiatus, is that correct?
FGH: Yeah, yeah its was 10 years.
PB: Now 10 years is a pretty long time. How has that impacted how you guys play together? Does it feel different or is it the same as it was back in the 90s.
FGH: Well, yeah, that’s interesting. That’s a great question. Because certain things, it’s amazing, feel similar. Like just the kind of connective, how much we connect as musicians and people, that’s always been a natural thing. The time didn’t really affect that that much. But I guess, you know, you’re getting a little older and maybe we’ve mellowed slightly. At one point we were a little more aggressive, when we were younger I guess. Since the reunion we just wanted to play every song to see how things would work, certain things worked better than the other ones. I also thing that the more musical stuff of our repertoire. We’re more mature musicians. Without sounding pompous or boring. Everybody has been playing the last 10 years. it’s interesting to revisit some of these songs and there’s a little bit more musicianship and we can stretch the material out. I think some of the songs really want to be played longer.
PB: So you guys played a couple of shows this fall. I know you guys did the Dave Matthews Band Caravan and a couple of other shows. Are you planning on touring more in the future?
FGH: Um, yeah. We would love to play wherever we can fit it in with schedules and stuff and we spent a lot of years working and getting a really great local, fun following throughout the states. Colorado and other places in the Northeast and the West Coast. It would be great to revisit some of these towns and some of these areas. Right now we just have, the future things we have are kind of local in the Jersey area and New York area. But we’re looking to do as much of that as our schedules and time allow.
You know its been really exciting, like I said, after 10 years to go back on stage and play this music and have fans there again and it would be hard to do that in more kind of remote places, the places that we traveled to. We really did spend a lot of years like you know, growing a following in certain areas. I’d love to do that.
PB: So are you guys working on any new music?
FGH: Well, you know not really because we just haven’t had the time to set aside and to jump into that creative endeavor. When we get back together we tend to put our focus more towards the show we have. But I think that that actually is the next logical step. You know you’ve gotten back together and you’ve done a couple of reunion shows and now it’s like well you know we should pick up creatively and start working together, writing some new songs. The new stuff is stuff that maybe we didn’t finish back 10 years ago. We’ve been revisiting some of those songs. More songs have got left off the repertoire at some point when we were touring a lot. So we’re still bring out new things, new older things. We’re trying to keep it fresh, you know.
PB: Were you surprised that you still had such a big following coming to your shows, coming to your reunion shows, after such a long hiatus?
FGH: Yea, very pleasantly surprised. Which doesn’t mean that I didn’t have faith in our Jersey fans and our New York fans and how much they always showed their support and their love of the band. But it was nice, it was great. That first year especially. It was like a big ole family reunion, of a couple of thousand family members. Without the potato salad.
PB: So now you guys have each branched out on your own; you have your own side projects. Was it difficult to transition from that back into one cohesive band.
FGH: Yes and no, I think. Like I said, when we get back together on stage there’s just something that clicks. You know your muscle memory just kicks in, where you’re “Here we are again and I know what to do.” It’s funny. But you’re right, back when it was just From Good Homes you didn’t have another thing to do. I play kids music, music for families. My sets for that, they’re shorter, they’re like 45 minutes. That’s a really good thing for a family, for a kid. And it’s usually really high energy and there’s a lot of jumping and a lot of running. Maybe eventually our From Good Homes sets will get there where at the end of the night where people are jumping around a little bit more. But you know looking out at a room full of grown ups, it took me a while to get used to say, ‘Okay there’s no kids here who will be running around.’ But I think since everyone has continued to play music and has been on stage that its just kind of like I said, it clicks when you get on stage with From Good Homes — we’ve been there before many, many times.
PB: I’ve seen your music described as “hick pop.” Can you explain exactly what that means and how it was coined?
Well I don’t know if I can explain exactly what it means because we didn’t come up with it you know, it was coined by a local writer in New Jersey. He got our first, he got some kind of demo tape I think. This was actually before we released a proper CD. He says I love this hick pop coming from Northern New Jersey. I guess what he was saying was that it was bright, it was poppy, it was catchy, but there’s this local hickyness to it. It ‘s hard to describe. I think growing up in the hills in the northern part of New Jersey where it’s very rural, so there’s an element of country or bluegrass or just kind of ruralness to it and I think that was what he was getting at. It wasn’t pop in the sense of urban or aggressive like punk or anything like that. But it wasn’t folky in that way. It had a little bit of attitude, a little bit of assuredness of itself, where it was coming from. It had songs on there that were about Jersey, songs about some of the landscape and atmosphere and traditions around here and that’s how he kind of heard it — hick pop. We took that and ran with it and called our first CD Hick-Pop Comin’ At Ya!
PB: So are you all still based in NJ?
FGH: Not everybody. Let’s see. Two of the guys are still in Jersey. Um, one is up in Vermont. One’s down in Charleston, South Carolina and I’m out in Long Island, N.Y., right now. But we’re close enough.
PB: Does that make it harder to do shows since you are spread out?
FGH: Yeah it does definitely. You need to cover some travel expenses and get the time together and plan it out a little bit more.