UPDATE 12/7: Ex-SNZ member Maxwell did tweet to us following our below post with a couple of relevant clarifications:
@BlurtMagazine Hello friends! To clarify: Katharine was very much invited and turned them down flat. Also, that pop dose thing is shitty.
And in response to a reader query about what the reunion comprises:
“I was never asked,” notes co-founding member Tom Maxwell.
By Blurt Staff
Although the mid ‘90s so-called “swing revival” is justifiably regarded as a rock history footnote, one band did actually stand out amongst the zoot-suited dross: NC’s Squirrel Nut Zippers, who were a high-energy Americana band at their core, touching on numerous styles that yes, did include swing and big band, but also delved into vintage blues, Dixieland, bossa nova and more. As we all know, the group had some massive hits (c.f. “Hell”), but then things ended badly amid acrimony and lawsuits. Intermittent activity followed, along with an ill-fated reunion circa 2007-08, with a subsequent live album, Lost At Sea in 2009 (read a somewhat dismissive commentary from PopDose.com called “How Bad Can It Be?”). Since then, not much from the Zippers camp, though, and all the players have gone on to their own respective projects.
Hardcore fans never forgot, however, and in mid 2014 a few cryptic postings to the band’s Facebook page (“Hey ya’ll. Been quite awhile. There have been some recent tremors in the otherwise still geology of SNZ land which could indicate movement of a danceable nature.”) hinted that a new reunion was on the horizon. Then protracted silence again. But early last month that FB page was updated with a profile feature and yet another cryptic message (“Things are brewing…”), accompanied by the same message at the just-reactivated SNZ Twitter account. Good news for fans?
Maybe. Yesterday (Dec. 5) co-founding member Tom Maxwell weighed in at his blog with a lengthy, very personal, essay, detailing why he will not be present for any Zippers shows—in short, he was not invited.
Wrote Maxwell, “When I talked to [band drummer] Chris Phillips about it on the phone, a week or so ago, I told him that I had put my sword down, and could go out with the band joyfully and with an open heart.” Recall that Maxwell had been part of the aforementioned legal woes, roughly 20 years ago, suing other members of the band for back royalties, with the lawsuit eventually being settled. So in Maxwell’s opinion, time had healed the wounds for him at least, and he would be looking forward to going out and performing the band’s songs, of which several of their hits were originally penned by him.
Apparently Maxwell’s desire to be part of the reunion has been rejected:
“I’m sorry to say I won’t be joining the Squirrel Nut Zippers on the tour supporting the 20th anniversary of the Hot album next year. This will put me in good company: Katharine Whalen, Ken Mosher, and Don Raleigh won’t be there either. The fact is, I was never asked. None of us met in person, or sat in a room together to vibe it out, as I suggested. I just got a text telling me it wasn’t going to happen….
“The band that might come through your town next year celebrating this milestone for the Hot album will call themselves the Squirrel Nut Zippers. They might also call it a reunion, if shame has abandoned them. You should go see them, if you like. There will be a lot of musical talent on that stage, as well as a fair amount of hokum. It just won’t bear much resemblance to that brief and dazzling spark that once characterized the group.”
As the “Things are brewing…” appears to be all that the official SNZ camp has put out thus far—the website repeats the phrase once again, with no additional news updates or even links on the homepage— there hasn’t been a response to Maxwell’s missive yet. Stay tuned.