When Orange County alt-pop darlings Something Corporate dismantled in 2004--fresh off major-label success, a whirlwind tour schedule, and a spot on the list of Local Bands That Mattered--bassist Kevin "Clutch" Page had a hunch the quintet would hit the road again someday.
He just didn't think it would take six years.
"I'd always thought we'd get back together - it didn't make sense not to," says Clutch. "Still, during those years, people would ask, 'Hey man, what's up with your band?' and I didn't know how to answer them, because I didn't have an answer myself. But I always believed it was a matter of time."
Turns out, he was correct.
Last spring, the band - rounded out by frontman Andrew McMahon, guitarist Josh Partington, and drummer Brian Ireland - decided to test the waters again. Early this year, their record label told the foursome that they were going to release a "Best Of" collection. Around that same time, Bamboozle wanted SoCo to headline its music festivals in Anaheim and New Jersey.
Timing-wise, it was the perfect storm.
"We'd gotten to the point where we'd all been talking about something along those lines. We were kicking around ideas in pairs," said Clutch. "But then [the label] made the decision, and we wanted to have our hand in it. Bamboozle came around, then the idea of a tour, and we all decided: Let's do it."
Soon, SoCo was easing back into rehearsal mode. They trekked in regularly - Andrew from LA, Clutch from San Diego - to meet Partington and Ireland in Orange County.
"We all fell back into it almost immediately. We set up like we did back in the day - all of us facing each other and playing until we thought he had it right. At first, I think we were all curious as to whether it'd be the same or even work," says Clutch. "It was. It did."
That's not to say everything is exactly like old times.
"Maturity is probably the key difference," says Clutch, with a laugh. "We've all grown up quite a bit. Andrew and I both got married, and Josh is in law school. We were so young the first time around. We didn't completely know who we were yet."
And rightfully so - as the guys were barely out of high school when they first signed with Drive-Thru Records in 2001. Their schedule for the next few years would include churning out a pair of hook-heavy albums - Leaving Through the Window and North -- the former of which spurned their best-known singles: the gloriously immature revenge tale, "If You C Jordan", and the better example of their knack for combining crunchy guitars, textured piano melodies, and nostalgia-drenched choruses: "I Woke Up in a Car."
Still, the rapid-fire success of the group was not without its downsides. In a recent interview with AP Magazine, McMahon pinpointed a key reason for their original hiatus: band battles for creative control. McMahon, in particular, admitted to not wanting to give up control when guitarist Partington wanted more of a say in the process. In turn, McMahon felt like was losing part of what he'd created. So they stopped.
"We needed a change. We were clumped together for so close for so long, and we had to have space," says Clutch. "Back then, it was tough at times to be identified solely as your band. It got to the point where you couldn't stand on your own two feet even if you wanted to."
So in that sense, says Clutch, the time off was necessary. And it paid off for each of them: McMahon found another round of piano-pop success with his band Jack's Mannequin, and also beat a battle with leukemia. Partington headed off to Chapman University to study law. Clutch started his own audio design and installation company. And Ireland kept a hand in music.
"We're all doing what we love to do," Clutch sums up. "We needed that before we could take another shot at this."
With that in mind, the band laid out one important rule before embarking on this tour - collectively agreeing that this time around, the pressure was off. That's partially why they're not debuting any brand-new material. In fact, they're pretty vague when talking about the future of SoCo, preferring to finish out this round before committing to plans beyond that. They make no promises - other than the one to serve up a damn good time for the fans who have been waiting.
Still - pressure or not - Clutch admits that there is one element of this tour that might spark some nerves among the guys. The roster wraps up with a sweep of Southern California at the end of this month, and all eyes are on their hometown show.
"It's where we're from, it's where we were raised, and it's what we're about," says Clutch, of the band's OC roots. "Playing your hometown is more work - your friends and family are in the audience, and expectations are higher than they've ever been."
"At the same time," concedes Clutch, "There's nothing else like it."