Friday, July 28, 2006

Neighborhoods story - Newport Mercury - 7/12/06 - full text

There go The Neighborhoods
The 'depravity factor' may be gone but the reformed Boston legends still have cause to celebrate TIM KELLY observes

With The Rudds, Quarter Ton and Change, Joe Mazzari Band
Sat., July 15, 8 p.m.
Area Venue, 3 River Lane, Newport
Tickets $25

There's no place like home away from home.

That seemed to be the sentiment for The Neighborhoods, at least. Now enjoying a second heyday since they split in the early '90s, the brash, mod-infused Boston rock band was quite amped for their upcoming return to Newport during a rehearsal session last week.

"I don't have jitters about Newport at all," sweat-drenched singer/guitarist David Minehan remarked after the trio had banged through a dozen-odd 'Hoods staples in a dank practice space in the shadow of Fenway Park. Minehan, the 47-year-old proprietor of Woolly Mammoth Sound - which recently relocated to Waltham, Mass. - was sharing his thoughts with this writer as well as Wally Arsenault, a longtime 'Hoods fan who was the executive producer of the band's 1984 eight-song record "Fire Is Coming" (Mustang Records).

"I think it's going to be one of those shows where it's like, 'Hey, I remember you!'" longtime bass player Lee Harrington added.

To be sure, the Neighborhoods never had to worry about getting the fans out in Rhode Island. They played countless gigs throughout their initial career - which stretched from the late 1970s into the early 1990s - at Newport clubs like Harpo's, One Pelham East and the Blue Pelican, as well as numerous Providence haunts.

"Newport is a f***ing trip," Minehan said. "It's such a dichotomy: big money mixed with no money. But the bond that ties is the depravity factor."

The "depravity factor" is something that the Neighborhoods will decidedly not be taking part in this time around. Minehan has been clean and sober for the past 15 years. While Harrington, a 44-year-old lawyer by day who is married with two sons, and current drummer Johnny Lynch, a 29-year-old kit pounder who does IT sales for a living, are willing to kick back a beer or two, the hard-living days for the Neighborhoods are long a thing of the past.

"For all of our... flirtations with indulgences, we managed to minimize the damage at an early age," Harrington said.

The Neighborhoods reformed within the past two years, have since played a handful of shows - including a set at last year's Boston Music Awards, where they were presented with a Hall of Fame title, as well as a March set in Austin, Texas, as part of the South By Southwest festival - and are putting the finishing touches on a record of new songs. The label Rykodisc is also slated to release a live CD this fall from the "final" Boston 'Hoods show in October of 1992 at the late, great Kenmore Square rock dive The Rathskeller.

"We knew we were going out, so making it a more positive, kind of celebratory master stroke felt like the thing to do," Minehan said. "It was the good old Rat. It all began and ended there. When you hear this record, you will remember the dankness. It sounds like the Rat. It's stamped Dank! The live album is an absolute validation of why we were such road animals."

These days, the typical Neighborhoods live set is a solid cross section of the band's multi-single, six-album catalog which saw the band gradually morph from a taut, young, mod punk-inspired outfit - the original band was in its teens when it formed - into anthemic hard rock heavyweights. Minehan described the forthcoming new material as a coalescence of all of the respective eras.

"Our feet were in both camps at all times," Minehan said, citing bands like Wire, the Clash, the Jam and Motorhead as big Neighborhoods influences. "We grew up on dinosaur rock (as well as) the punk and post-punk. Power pop, too. It's always kind of been there, that anthemic, adrenalized kind of way of saying it. We're not really doing much of the cock rock (though)."

"It's all cock rock," Harrington countered. "Just as anyone who has picked up a guitar."

Minehan met Lynch a few years ago during a Woolly Mammoth recording session and would later endorse for the drum seat in former Mighty Mighty Bosstone Joe Gittleman's pop punk band Avoid One Thing. When Gittleman folded the band to work in Los Angeles for SideOneDummy - the label that released most of Avoid One Thing's output - Lynch inherited the fabled space. Minehan said that Lynch, who he described as "full of piss and vinegar," has played an important "kick in the ass" role in the latest incarnation of the Neighborhoods.

"John's been our research department," Minehan said. Since Lynch joined, he has been poring over old demos and unreleased recordings and has pressed the band to take some of them out of mothballs - some of which Minehan no longer remembers the titles - for at least one last live go-round. Upcoming 'Hoods shows will certainly not be a pure nostalgia act; they now mix about a half a dozen new songs into the sets as well as little known rarities, like cuts from the unreleased final album "Last of the Mohicans."

"I just want to play things that don't bore me," Minehan said.

"The songs aren't as precious as they used to be," Harrington said. "There's no political importance to (choosing songs) anymore. If people want to hear a song, we play it."


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