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Hootie & the Blowfish: Yet Another Worship Temple

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Hootie's Hole-In-One Just Fine

Hootie and the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker says the band's famous namesakes - friends from his college days at USC - haven't traded in on their association with last year's biggest-selling music act. At least as far as he knows.

"I think Hootie's a flight attendant," says Rucker, 30, on the phone from a stop in Knoxville, Tenn. "I haven't talked with those guys in years." As for the big-cheeked Blowfish, Rucker says: "I have no idea."

Meanwhile, the Columbia, S.C.,-based group, who miraculously transformed from a golf-loving, nice-guy frat band to Grammy Award-winning, multi-platinum artists and frequent guests of David Letterman, play the SkyDome on Wednesday night and show no signs of slowing down.

Despite two years of touring for their 1994 major label debut Cracked Rear View, Hootie immediately went back into the studio and recorded a followup, Fairweather Johnson, with Cracked's producer Don Gehman. Fairweather has already sold two million in just five months.

"That's about what we expected it to do total," says Rucker. "This was done for us. We wanted a new record 'cause we wanted to keep touring. It wasn't a maximize situation. We knew we should have waited."

Meanwhile, Cracked is still on the Billboard Top 200 chart after 14 million in sales. "There's room for everybody. If more people felt that way, people wouldn't be getting shot and stuff," says Rucker, denying he's referring to the recent fatal shooting of rapper Tupac Shakur. "It's just so funny. In the music business, it's just music. That's what people keep missing. It's music. It's not what you wear. It's not what you think. It's not what you do. It's music. There's so many people out there with a disdain or hatred for some band not because of their music but just because of success or something."

Could Rucker be talking about Hootie, who have been raked over the coals by critics for their bland, middle-of-the-road rock? "Anybody could come out and go, 'Soundgarden rules. Hootie and the Blowfish sucks.' But when Soundgarden goes out and plays to 15,000 people and then the next night we show up and we play to 15,000 people, those people didn't think we sucked. It's just one person's opinion."

So he does read reviews. "If they're sitting around you read it. The good ones, you go down and you laugh. The bad ones, you go down and you laugh. You go on. We don't have anything else to prove to the world. We've come out, we've worked hard, we've made our records, we've stayed true to who we are and so we don't have anything else to prove. "When I get a letter that goes, `You know, my mom died and your record got me through it and I can't thank you enough,' God, that means much more than some guy who was a nerd in high school who now just hates us 'cause we do straight ahead rock 'n' roll and alternative's popular."

When Hootie's North American tour winds down in November, the band heads over to Europe and then returns to do a four-week small theatre tour in the States early next year. Following that will be some dates in Australia and Japan before some well-deserved time off. Maybe a couple of years. "I'm going to spend as much time as I possibly can with my kid," says Rucker, who remains close with the mother of his 17-month-old daughter Carolyn.

"And then while doing that I'm going to become the best golfer I can possibly be. That's my goal. Then I'm going to spend some money."

Sounds like a plan.

Hootie & the Blowfish: Yet Another Worship Temple
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