While it’s 2014, don’t be surprised if Cracker fans try and convince you it’s 1995.
Cracker, with most of its mid-1990s lineup, will play Down by the Riverside at 7 p.m. on Sunday night. Modern Era will open the show.
Since the band started in 1991, singer David Lowery and guitarist Johnny Hickman have been constants in the group. The other members of Cracker have changed through the years, but for its 2014 tour, drummer Michael Urbano returned to give the band most of the lineup that created the band’s best-selling album, 1993’s “Kerosene Hat,” which included the band’s hits, “Low,” and “Euro-Trash Girl.”
Former bass player Davey Faragher even played some shows with the band earlier this year, allowing new fans a peek at what concerts sounded like when the band was at its height. Current bass player Sal Maida, who joined the group in 2006, has returned to the band and will play with Cracker on Sunday.
Hickman said playing again with Urbano and Faragher was incredible.
“The four of us have an undeniable creative chemistry that kicked right back in within five minutes of reuniting in a room full of musical gear. We’re talking about four type A personalities that intuitively grasp how rare that chemistry is and how none of our individual egos is more important than the song at hand. In Cracker “the song is king, and it makes the rules,” Hickman said. “All three of us pay close attention to David’s lyrics and will work for as many hours as need be to conjure the right mood and atmosphere for his story, his rant.
“David is very sharp and trusts that we’ll deliver what he’s looking for,” Hickman said. “Sometimes it’s a struggle but in all good ways. If he’s still undecided about what that is, with us he’ll have a wide choice of riffs, melodies and grooves to be inspired by and build on too. It’s quite a machine when it’s running at full steam.”
With Lowery and Hickman, Cracker has released 10 studio albums, including 2009’s “Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey.” The band still tours and draws strong crowds.
“To a large degree I believe it’s from doing exactly what we want to musically regardless of trends or outside advice and the fact that our fans understand and fully support that fact,” Hickman said. “There is a certain sense of freedom and hubris at the core of Cracker that I think translates. I think the Crumbs get that. We often have ideas that may seen illogical or odd sometimes but we do them anyway. If it doesn’t work out we’re like next.”
With Urbano touring again with the group, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that while on the road this summer, Cracker has been playing a lot of old classics.
“David and I have always dug back into our hundreds of songs and pulled various ones back out when the time feels right. By the same token we hang certain ones up for a while when we’re not digging them for whatever reason. It’s definitely a pleasure to pull songs out from Cracker brand which Davey was a big part of and from ‘Kerosene Hat’ which both Michael and Davey helped create,” Hickman said.
Along with playing classics on stage, Hickman and Lowery are working on new music for the group’s long-anticipated 11th studio album. The band hopes to get the new music out soon.
“We have enough material for two albums in the works,” Hickman said. “We are still refining and changing some of the rough ideas but it’s coming along very well. A lot of the songs are complete with many others very close.”
Rock band Modern Era, a crowd favorite at Kathy’s Pub, will open for Cracker. Guitar player Ben Pelowski said the band members are huge fans of Cracker and the Down by the Riverside music series.
“We’re really excited to play the series,” Pelowski said. “We have been waiting to play it for a long time now, but we really wanted to play with a band that we meshed well with, plus we had to build ourselves up. … Cracker has a big influence on our music.”
Modern Era released a four-song EP in May, titled, “The Holiday EP.” Pelowski said the group currently isworking on new material.
If you go:
- What: Cracker and Modern Era down by the Riverside.
- When: 7 p.m., Sunday
- Where: Mayo Park, behind Mayo Civic Center, 30 Civic Center Drive S.E., Rochester.
- Admission: Free