4/18/2013 - Most people in a position to know agree — one hit is better than none. During the millennium’s first summer, Ninedays lit up car radios and MaTV with “Absolutely (Story of a Girl),” knocking Matchbox 20 from atop the Billboard chart. Alas, repeat success of that scale never happened.
But the man who wrote it has no regrets.
“It’s opened up so many opportunities for me … even outside of music,” said John Hampson, who still enjoys performing the catchy power pop tune, both solo and with the newly reunited Ninedays. “You can’t beat playing the song you wrote and everybody in the room is singing it with you.”
He’s less sanguine about their label’s role in the band’s one hit wonder legacy. Early foot-dragging by Epic Records cost momentum.
“The record was finished for months before they even put it out,” said Hampson; “Absolutely” was done two years before anyone could buy it. “It would have been a bigger song and a bridge to the band.”
Their major label debut The Madding Crowd was released in mid-2000, as the music business grew unhinged by an explosion of Internet file sharing.
“That change had a huge impact on the way the records companies saw us,” said Hampson.
Notably, Epic permanently shelved Ninedays’ second album, So Happily Unsatisfied.
“They had kind of decided that we were just this thing that had to fulfill an obligation,” said Hampson.
Having watched friends in another Long Island band, Fuzzbubble, struggle in vain for three years in to win control of an unreleased album, Ninedays chose to move on.
“I had no more in me to try to resurrect that record … it was so tainted and polluted at that point, that I had to emotionally detach from it.”
Fittingly, So Happily Unsatisfied eventually made it to the Internet around 2005, though how that happened is a bit murky. It currently can be purchased on the Ninedays website.
The band quickly countered the hostage situation with a new album, 2003’s ironically titled Flying The Corporate Jet. Hampson called the independent release, “a statement that had to be made after that whole nightmare, being treated like nobody cared … artists should just know if you sign with a major label, there’s no way around it — you’re dealing with it.”
Still, the experience took a toll.
“After that we didn’t do anything for a while. There were a lot of internal things that the band had to process,” said Hampson, who pursued a solo career with Shiny New Album and last year’s stellar No Fairy Tales, while band co-founder Brian Desveaux made Alive Today in 2004.
Eventually, the five members of Ninedays — Hampson, Desveaux, keyboard player Jeremy Dean, bassist Nick Dimichino and drummer Vincent Tattanelli – began hanging out again. This led to what Hampson terms “a reflective moment … I thought, ‘we did this thing’ - we succeeded in some ways beyond any expectation we could have had. To just let it sort of go away or die on the vine just seems wrong.”
At the end of 2012, Ninedays reunited in earnest.
“Everyone had to commit to make this a priority,” said Hampson. “It couldn’t be done any other way.”
Writing and demo recording for a future album is in full swing. After a few shakeout gigs, they’re ready to tour and try out new material.
“The shows have been great - small little places, but audiences have been packed and really enthusiastic, really receptive to the new songs,” said Hampson.
The show at Londonderry’s Tupelo Music Hall will be the second of a short six-day run.
“It’s very early on, but so far so good, and we feel good on stage.”