Columbia, SC-based Hootie and the Blowfish is made up of guitarist Mary Bryan and singer Darius Rucker. The group has gained prominence, especially in the college circuit, after the release of its highly-successful, gold album 'Cracked Rear View.'
"I'm not much for wimpy guitars," states 6'3" Mark Bryan, head guitar shark for Columbia, South Carolina's Hootie & The Blowfish. "And I like my tone to be fat, wide open, and clean." If that sonic recipe sounds tasty, then the band's gold-selling Cracked Rear View [Atlantic] ought to be your kettle of fish. Hootie's double-barreled approach - a seamless blend of singer Darius Rucker's acoustic janglings and Bryan's twangy counterpoint - has scored big with HORDE followers and on the college circuit, spawning a school of anthemic hits like "Hold My Hand" and "Let Her Cry."
Though all the acoustic tracks on Cracked sprang from Bryan's '51 Gibson, Rucker recently chose a Takamine Santa Fe as his live workhorse. "I just love the action on that Santa Fe," he grins, "but I have to use medium strings since I strum so hard." Rucker occasionally baits his fretboard with a Kyser capo; he damps the fifth fret on "Drowning" and the second fret for "Only Wanna Be With You."
In Bryan's ax aquarium several Gibsons - a '71 ES-335, a '71 SG, and a '64 J-45 - mingle with a Gretsch Chet Atkins Tennessean and a thinline '72 Telecaster. His juice comes from a 50-watt Mesa Boogie DC-5 combo and a 4x12 Rectifier cab. "My sound is my amps," he says firmly. "Same in the studio as onstage." An Ibanez Tube Screamer and a DigiTech chorus/delay are his only effects.
While Bryan reveres such heavy hitters as Pete Townshead and Mark Knopfler, he's actually gleaned more from ex-Replacements leader Paul Westerberg. "I got the idea to fatten up my tone by using octaves and single-note slides from Paul," he explains. "I do that a lot on choruses and breaks, like on 'Not Even The Trees,' where the middle eight goes down to E minor."
Bryan cites his audiences as his biggest inspiration. "Being on the road so much, I live for their response. It's great to be able to relate to so many people through our music."