"It's been ten years since we played together," Groovenics' bassist Pete Carmichael says via telephone of the six-member Palm Beach nü-metal band that rocked, rapped, and shredded in South Florida venues from its inception in 1993 to its true demise in 2001, the same year the band trekked to Austin to play SXSW. Groovenics limped along with a changed lineup until 2003, but the core membership split up in bitterness after failing to launch to mainstream success after signing with Spitfire Records in 1999, Carmichael says. Much of the bad blood between the members, he adds, had to do with its quarrel-inducing manager.
"We made a bad decision on a manager, and it turned the band against each other," he says. "It ended on a frustrated, sour note. We didn't talk for seven years."
Why are they doing it? "We missed playing together. We just wanted to be in the same room playing music together again. We've all known each other for more than 20 years."
Groovenics frontman Karl Bernholtz, sans his Sonic the Hedgehog-style spiked hair, and drummer Mike McFarland are even flying in for the band's reunion show. In April, Groovenics released a 27-song compilation called Wedgie Fever on iTunes. Carmichael says the compilation includes "stuff never released and old demos."
Before breaking up, Groovenics played countless shows in Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami, and videos of live performances show that the band could pack the Culture Room well enough to crowd-surf without hesitation. "We would have a few hundred people at our shows," Carmichael says. "We had a big draw of girls, so that brought the guys out. We'd have everyone from skinheads to metalheads, but we never had any fights."
Given how well its sound aligned with bands such as Incubus, Limp Bizkit, and Deftones, which were breaking at the turn of the century, Groovenics had high expectations for their own success. "We'd been playing that stuff before these bands were around," Carmichael says. "Ska, booty music, punk came out in the music. We were kind of like Faith No More in that whatever we wrote, we came out sounding like ourselves. These bands took off, and we were like, 'It's our time.' Everyone wanted to make it, and everyone had different ideas about how to make it, and everyone started taking it out on each other."
Over the course of the past few years, the members have rekindled their friendly relations with one another. "It went from 'We're never doing a reunion' to 'This would be fun.'" In February, they decided to start practicing again. "Just doing it for fun has been a blast. We're playing at peoples' houses with the kids hanging around." Guitarist Matt Swig and keyboardist Josh Mullenix still live in the South Florida area, along with Paul Carmichael, but guitarist Jim Austin will be traveling down from Gainesville for the show.
It's not all about novelty and nostalgia, though. Carmichael says, "We're just doing this to have some fun. But some of us have aspirations to keep playing and start new bands."
Groovenics fans, expect to hear old favorites such as "Tasty Waves," "Chopstix," and "Scratch N' Sniff." Ladies, loosen up your hips in preparation for "Booty Barn," 'cause they're bringing that one out too.
Groovenics, with Sloppy High Fives and Far Away Planes. Saturday, July 23, at Propaganda, 6 S. J St., Lake Worth. Admission is $12. Visit propagandalw.com.
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