This year is full of that bad David Koechner sports comedy from 2007 – The Comebacks. And by that I mean there are several shameless cash-in band reunions, including At the Drive-In, Ween, Wax Bull, Bernie Sanders and Michael Stipe.
Lafayette has been essential in birthing memorable acts: The Mans, Circuit des Yeux, The Sweet Sixteens, Popular Ego, TV Ghost, REV//REV and Pnature Walk are just a few. The huge influence to the musical world even had the mayor of Indianapolis thinking of renaming the capital to “Little Lafayette.” Though it is cute when people make music in Indianapolis, it’s important to focus on Lafayette. (Editor's note: If you want to fight with Lafayette resident Greg on Twitter about any of this, you can find him here.) The upcoming reunion show of the The Half Rats is worthy of a drive up to “construction city” a.k.a. Lafayette (find me on Friendster if you want some cool shortcuts).
Prominent in the awkward last half of the first millennial decade, The Half Rats brought old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll to a whole new level with catchy '60s inspired hooks and '80s dirt punk. The band's members represented Chicago as well, and there was no mountain the band couldn't climb. Except Mt. Everest, where the forgotten sixth member, Lance, died in 2010. Not too long after the band decided to go on a hiatus but, hey, Lance wasn’t really in the band anyways, so it does seem like a good time to reunite under the Staley smog moonlight (cool Lafayette reference).
Also, I’m pretty sure “2016” is something significant in numerology, so it was definitely meant to be.
I spoke with Ryan Puetz, coolest member and one-fifth of The Half Rats, who commented on the upcoming reunion.
NUVO: How do you feel about playing with the rest of the guys in The Half Rats after four years?
Ryan Puetz: The first three years there was little to no communication. It was almost a touch of fate that this is even happening really. We had sort of just began speaking to each other again due to one of us going through some trouble which life at times can present.
At that same time our old tour manager, Tyrone Taylor, was out in sunny San Diego visiting his old stomping grounds and ran into the fellas from Brixton Apparel. They informed him that they were going to be presenting a Brixton Broadcast in Chicago, and they desperately wanted to get us back together for it. It just so happened that we were all speaking at that time. I think we were all maybe a little dumbstruck that someone would still ask us to play, honestly. One-by-one we were reached out to individually, and I think the collective response was..."If he will do it, I am in."
So here we are.
NUVO: Do you feel that anything has particular changed in sound when getting together now?
Puetz: I would say the biggest change to our sound is discipline. When you are young and fresh off of writing material and touring, it's all about energy. Energy is all fine and dandy but what I think we all agree makes something special is chemistry. We always had that, but now we are able to stay disciplined and not play everything a million miles a minute like we have been up taking amphetamines for four straight days. It has helped a lot with vocal harmonies and really just making the sound more cohesive. It all feels really groovy, you know. I think we hate each other more now for not figuring that out earlier. It’s pretty far out that that was the only thing we were missing.
For me, personally, The Half Rats represent a specific time in the music scene in Lafayette, where creativity and parties blended in a weird funk of self-expressive art, strangely hopeful and epidemic.
I agree with Ryan that The Half Rats had that special chemistry, and on Saturday, April 23 at Carnahan Hall we’ll be able to see the evolution of that chemistry under a new perspective microscope.
Eclectic keyboardist and Popular Ego lead man, Chad Rainey, shares the enthusiasm and freshness of revisiting old hypnotic ghosts with the rest of his bandmates.
NUVO: How long exactly has it been since The Half Rats have played together?
Chad Rainey: The last time Half Rats played together was four years ago.
NUVO: What excites you about playing with The Half Rats again?
Rainey: It's exciting to play with The Half Rats again because everybody in the band is extremely talented. Gathering five elite musicians together in one room is always fun.
NUVO: Can you briefly detail the how the show at Carnahan Hall came together, and what fans and newcomers can expect?
Rainey: While we were going to get back together [for the Brixton show] and rehash all our old songs, we felt it was only right if we played a show in our hometown of Lafayette for all the people who had supported us over the years. If you've been to a Half Rats show in the past, you know what you can expect — a high level of energy and fun from all of us. If you've never seen us, you can expect to be toe-tapping and dancing all night. Bring your friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, parents, kids; our music is for everyone and you can count on an excellent show.
If you go:
Half Rats with DJ Hoosier Illusion
Carnahan Hall, 800 Main St, Lafayette,
Saturday, April 23, 8 p.m.