Ican hear it in his voice: The drummer from Hootie and the Blowfish doesn't want to be on the phone with me. Certainly not right now, probably not ever.
"Hey," opens Jim "Soni" Sonefeld. He sounds half-asleep. "It's Soni."
"From Hootie and the Blowfish."
Wow, is this guy asleep?
"Hey, Soni!" I respond, mustering all the energy I can. "Thanks so much for calling!"
"Yeah." Pause. "No problem."
I ask him how the current tour is going. He gives me the standard touring-artist response: "Oh, man. The tour? It's a blast."
Then nothing. Radio people call this "dead air," and, at first, I'm a little offended. But I guess it sort of makes sense: In 1995, this guy was in the biggest band in the world. Cracked Rear View sold over 16 million copies. The Indy's distribution: A hair under 40,000. Maybe he's earned the right to be a little jaded.
I scramble through my notes to find a question that will energize the guy. I think I find something: Golf, a sport the guys from Hootie love so much, they used it to create their own foundation (the aptly named Hootie and the Blowfish Foundation).
"This summer was pretty good," he says. "[The band] played probably three times a week."
A spark of life?
"But I didn't play too much. My old drummer wrists are feeling a little banged up."
... aaaaand back to Earth. But at least I've got him going. Ranting, actually.
"It more becomes a matter of, "How much energy do you have in the day?'" he says, beginning a diatribe about the rigors of touring. I sit back, ready to not take notes.
But then he pauses.
"Oh, man," he says. "Woe is me: How do I fit in golf in two hours of rock 'n roll?"
I've got him on the ropes, so I push on: Sounds good, Soni, but rock 'n roll? Songs about wanting a girl to hold your hand? I think most people would call that "pop," right?
"If you haven't seen us [live], you probably have an image of us," he says. I think he's a little offended now. "We come across as, I guess, a ballad band. We're perceived as having little more to offer. We've always thought the best part of us is our live show. A lot of this fame and fortune came after we'd honed our craft [as a live band]."
Now I'm having trouble stopping him. He tells me he wasn't surprised to see Hootie's last album, 2005's Looking for Lucky, get airplay on Country Music Television it was a matter of cross-promotion. We talk golf as a metaphor for a music career: If it's all a round of golf, he thinks he's on the back nine.
"God, I hope so," he says. "Fuck, I don't want to be on a tour bus when I'm 52."
He tells me he doesn't mind being recognized as little more than "that guy from Hootie." Bands have frontmen for a reason, he says, and it's not just because they can sing. The interview's almost over, and only now does he realize that he wasn't the band member I had originally hoped for.
"You must've got shit on," Soni says. "What'd you do to deserve the drummer?"
I tell him I have no idea, and I thank him for his time. And I mean it: Frontmen are too practiced to drop expletives in a phone interview. CAPSULE
Hootie and The Blowfish
Pikes Peak Center,
190 S. Cascade Ave.
Wednesday, Oct. 25, 7 p.m.
Tickets: $45; visit ticketswest.com.