By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
Only one problem remained for the Hang Ups--touring. From the start, the reclusive Crozier had voiced his aversion to travel, and by the time So We Go was finished, drummer Ittner chose homebody status, too. With the lineup in question and the album release delayed because of label restructuring, rumors abounded that the Hang Ups were falling apart. "Yeah, there were some scary points," says Tighe. "I feel really lucky that Aaron (Lundholm) and Bryan (Hanna) came along when they did."
When Crozier finally retired from the group last year to focus on studio projects (notably Ninotchka, with February's Amy Turany), the group was saved when Kearns decided to quit the bass and fill Crozier's spot. "Crozier was nice enough to teach him his parts, which must have been kind of a bummer, to give up your magic and show the secrets," says Tighe. "But since then, Jeff has really made the parts his own." Aaron Lundholm of pop band Dearly was enlisted to play the bass. Ittner, on the other hand, will remain a creative member of the group without touring; Bryan Hanna, an experienced drummer who did the engineering on So We Go, signed on as his tour replacement.
At their record-release concerts last month at 7th Street Entry, it's clear that the Hang Ups have evolved into a road-ready outfit (they even add their first-ever rock & roll ending to "The Entry"). The room seems like it's a reunion of all the people who were ever moved by that sound in the past several years. And while one better-known local drummer and longtime fan is overheard commenting that the Hang Ups' change is "like replacing Ringo with Bonham," the truth is that the Hang Ups have become sturdier while honoring their music's poignancy. "I think we are intentionally trying to get a bit more of a rock set going," Tighe admits coyly. "To get people's attention at all you have to make a strong impression."
As they prepare to hit the road for their first major tour, Tighe's optimism is palpable. It's not surprising. The songwriter has always been fixated on themes of motion and discovery, travel and revelation. If the titles of some of the best Hang Ups songs--"Comin' Through," "Greyhound Bus," "Runway," "So We Go"--are any indication, Tighe has always expressed a drive to go, to escape, or as one song goes, "ride free down the runway."
"It's always been a source of inspiration for me," Tighe agrees. "I remember writing 'Waltz' on a train. Traveling has the feeling of an open expanse around you, and that can make you feel more free. It's like when we were doing that first record... just the sudden feeling that anything could happen."
The Hang Ups perform Friday, June 27 at Lee's Liquor Lounge in Minneapolis; call 338-9491.