Even though such tunes as “Epoxy, for Example” and “Herded into Pools” did not exactly do battle with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Head Like A Hole” for radio airplay during the early Nineties alt-rock takeover, fIREHOSE was one of the hardest working live acts of the era, having launched 20 tours between 1986 and 1994. And in April, singer/guitarist Ed Crawford, bassist Mike Watt, and drummer George Hurley will be reuniting for their first live dates in nearly two decades.
Formed from the ashes of beloved indie rockers Minutemen (after the death of singer/guitarist D. Boon in December 1985), fIREHOSE issued five full-length albums during this time, including a pair for major label Columbia, before going kaput in 1994.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Watt discussed the reunion, how fIREHOSE rekindled his love of music after tragedy and the possibility of a new album.
How did the fIREHOSE reunion come about?
Edward asked me last year if we would do some gigs again. I have to kind of plan things in advance, because I have so much going on, and that third opera, Hyphenated-Man, was coming out, so I said, “Edward, can we wait until next year? I’m a little busy right now.” The time opened up, so I said, “OK, let’s try and do some gigs.” He just put together a set list for us, so I’ll try and re-learn the songs. I’ve done this a couple of times with Minutemen with Georgie, where we do old songs as a duet – we’re going to do it in March in England, at All Tomorrow’s Parties. And it’s kind of hard sometimes, going back and learning the old songs.
Looking forward to playing any specific songs?
Anything Edward picks, of course. [Laughs] I hope I can play them good enough!
When do rehearsals start?
Edward’s going to come on the 20th of February, and then we’ll practice for two weeks, and give it our best shot.
Edward got you back into playing music after D. Boon’s death.
I still have a lot of respect for Edward helping me in those days, because it was rough for me. I didn’t really know if I wanted to play music after Minutemen, or that people wanted to hear me do it without D. Boon. It was a bad scene. Thurston [Moore] helped me a lot, too. But Edward, he comes out from Ohio and we do this thing.
For me, back in the day, fIREHOSE served as an introduction to the Minutemen.
So many people did. fIREHOSE in a way was a little Minutemen ambassador. fIREHOSE got much more exposure than the Minutemen, at the time. And that’s why I think there are a lot of people thinking about this, because of from their younger days, they remember seeing us.
Will more dates be added after this two week run?
I’ve got other stuff coming up. I made an album in Italy last year with these two Italian guys, and I’m going to do a little tour over there when it comes out. And then in the summer, of course, I’ve got the Stooges, they do festivals in Europe. And in September and October, I’ll do a last U.S. tour of Hyphenated-Man. Like I said, I kind of plan out in advance stuff, so if we do gigs after these two weeks, it won’t probably be as difficult as doing them after 18 years. But I don’t think we can do a bunch right away. It would have to be sometime after these other commitments.
What about a new fIREHOSE album?
When Edward was asking me about doing new gigs, he also said he wanted to write…he has a band called Food, and said he’s been writing songs. For these two weeks of gigs, we’re just going to try and play some of the old ones. But he was talking about writing songs. So, I don’t know – maybe down the road.
Doesn’t sound like your average cash-grabbing reunion.
Maybe people are sick of this reunion thing, and “What is this, another thing being pushed off on them?” We’re not trying to push anything off on anyone. We’re just trying to play together again. It’s just trying to play again, see what it’s like to do some gigs again with some guys I spent a lot of time in the boat with.