w/ 351 Cleveland
Fri. Sept. 15
9 p.m.
Music Farm
32 Ann St.
If absence makes the heart grow fonder, the collective thumpers of Wormbelly and 351 Cleveland are probably on the cusp of bursting. Long-term fixtures on Charleston’s rock scene, each band held the big farewell show, saw their members disperse to other projects, and let a few years slip on by.

“I think the longer we stayed away, the more we sort of needed each other,” says Wormbelly drummer K.C. Hazelwood, of how it happened to be that a band who called it quits over a year and a half ago decided to suddenly resurrect itself. “I think that there was a little bit of a hole in us somewhere that could only be filled by Wormbelly … to almost quote Extreme.”

And what Extreme was to early-’90s hair metal, Wormbelly was to late-’90s Charleston alt-rock. Their tapeworm stickers were plastered on dingy bathroom stalls across town and their live shows were the stuff of local legend, full of renegade robotics, theatrics, and fantastic costumes.

Although Wormbelly released a record, Ever the Vulture, at the end of their run, it was the well-orchestrated 2003 opus The Guf that almost threw the band into a big league record label spin.

“Our producer at that point had us convinced that we had more labels wanting to hear more and more music, so we dropped out of existence for almost two years so we could focus on writing more music,” explains Hazelwood. “It definitely wears you down. You’re pushing so hard to write things, it’s not even funny, and you put them on a disc that gets sent to somebody that gets sent to somebody else and then it sits in someone’s mailbox for some time.”

At the height of their popularity and creativity, Wormbelly turned down offers from three different labels. “They weren’t right for us at the time and I don’t think any of us regret that to this day,” says Hazelwood. He recalls a quote by an A&R rep that has burned itself into his brain. “We want music that will keep the listener interested long enough to hear the commercial at the end of the song.” Uninterested, they passed.

While this wasn’t the direct cause of Wormbelly’s hiatus, it was a contributor, along with the fact that after nine years, individual pursuits were taking precedence over the group. Hazelwood and vocalist Chris Patterson — recently of Maestro, currently of The DaliDrama (see p. 60) — worked on other music projects, bassist Todd Few went the solo route, guitarist Kevin Graham decided to spend some time with his burgeoning family, and multimedia artist Gogo (Brian Egenreither) hit the books.

For all five, though, Wormbelly remained an integral part of their lives, until one day, it just made sense to play together again. “The more fresh air we got and the more different things we did, the more we realized that it wasn’t Wormbelly,” says Hazelwood. “I think it’s safe to say, nothing musically quite did it for us the way that Wormbelly did.”

Joining the group in reappearing on the Charleston music map is 351 Cleveland, a rock band returning from an even longer break (see Pulse on p. 58). Both bands hope that those fans do, indeed, come out to cheer on their respective reunions, but regardless of the outcome, the satisfaction comes from being on stage with friends, making the music they’ve always made.

Hazelwood cuts to the heart of it. “We’re gonna be there, playing a show as Wormbelly, and that gives me the biggest hard-on in the world.”

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