What brings Goober & the Peas back together after 15 years? It depends on who you ask.
According to frontman Goober and guitarist Junior, this weekend’s reunion show is the result of duress and a need to address federal criminal charges after being ratted out by the Detroit cowpunk group’s other guitarist, Shorty. The musicians say it’s possible they’ll be arrested onstage at Saint Andrew’s Hall on Saturday and hauled away in handcuffs.
“There’s an episode of ‘Matlock’ just like it,” says Junior. “We sat down to watch it to try to figure out what to do.”
Of course, Dan John Miller and Tom Hendrickson Jr., — the real-life Goober and Junior, respectively — tell a slightly more straightforward story.
The reunion was brought about by the decision to make the Peas’ catalog — 1992’s “The Complete Works of Goober & the Peas,” which includes the hit “Hot Women (Cold Beer)” and 1995’s “The Jet-Age Genius of Goober & the Peas” — available digitally in the new year, most likely by February. That led to a booking at the South By Southwest Music + Media Conference during March in Austin, Texas — “even before we really agreed to do it,” notes Miller — and a decision to do something at home first.
“We thought if we’re doing to do (South By Southwest), our first show has to be in Detroit,” says Miller. “We’re from Detroit. We have a lot of fans here. Detroit is going through a bit of hell right now, so we thought we’d try to bring something fun to our neighbors.”
Hendrickson, who now runs a video production company, says the group originally thought about a spring show closer to SXSW but thought it would be a better fit for the holiday season. “Of course, that was a month before the show,” he says, “but we always crammed stuff in at the last minute, so after 15 years to book a show just a month before seemed to fit us pretty well.”
The Saint Andrews show will feature all the familiar accouterments of the Peas’ good-humored and fiercely played live shows, including the swanky, Western-style suits and bales of hay. Miller and Hendrickson will be joined by founding member Jim “Shorty” Currie, while Dave “Blackjack” Feeny, who plays in Miller’s current band, Blanche and did a European tour with the Peas in the mid-’90s, will fill in for Miller’s late brother and original bassist Michael “Boss Hoss” Miller, who passed away in 2001. Chris Hammond will be the latest in a line of drummers nicknamed “Doc,” while former member Damian Lang may also sit in during the night.
Miller and Hendrickson say they did not reach out to the enormously busy Jack White, a onetime Doc who was still known by his real name, John Gillis, when he played with the Peas and now lives in Nashville, Tenn., tending to the affairs of his bands (the White Stripes, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather) and his Third Man Records operation.
Both men are circumspect about the Peas’ future as well. “We’ll see how everything goes,” says Miller, who in addition to Blanche does voice work, including audio books, and maintains an acting career that’s included a role in the Johnny Cash biopic “Walk the Line.” “The interesting thing now, with the Internet and everything, is you don’t have to put out an album or an EP. You can record a song you really like and put it up the same day. You can just release singles. There are more opportunities to do things just off the cuff, which we like.”
“And,” he adds, “we’ll see if the (criminal) charges stick. If we have to play in prison, we’ll play in prison.”
Goober & the Peas and Silverghost perform Saturday (Dec. 26) at Saint Andrews Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. Call (313) 961-6358 or visit www.myspace.com/gooberandthepeas.
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