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"This country thing is what I'm doing," Darius tells The Grio. "This is my career change. This is what I'm doing 'til I retire. But I know for a fact that -- I don't want to put a time on it -- but soon there's going to be another Hootie record, another Hootie tour because I love the guys and I think we will always be a band."
Hootie and the Blowfish began in 1986 when Darius and guitarist Mark Bryan asked bass player Dean Felber to fill in at a bar gig they had. No one imagined -- least of all Darius -- that that one gig would evolve into almost a quarter-century of playing together. "When we started this, we said we wanted to be one of those bands that played for a long time," Darius acknowledges. "And it's amazing 25 years after asking Dean to play with us, we're still looking for a bass player and we're still in a band. That's pretty awesome."
One thing that has changed for Darius as he evolves from rock star to country hitmaker is his new, healthier lifestyle. Admitting that many of Hootie's milestones, including performing with Michael Jackson, are a blur to him, thanks to a partying lifestyle that included a lot of alcohol, he now says he has learned his lesson.
"I don't get drunk any more," he insists. "I made a conscious promise to myself to look around, to talk to people. At the Grand Ole Opry, I want to make it a point to go up and talk to Little Jimmy [Dickens]. When I say, 'Thank you, guys, for this ride, I'm going to spend some time with my kids,' I want to make sure I have memories."
Even with his country career in full swing, Darius says thoughts of Hootie are never far behind. "We could get together right now and have an album for you in three months. We're all writing all the time. I was sitting down writing songs [recently] and I wrote a country song and then a song came out that sounded like Hootie, so I saved it for that."
Darius, who just released his sophomore album, 'Charleston, SC 1966,' says he felt he had a lot to live up to with this project. "I felt pressure the second we said we were going to start recording," he tells The Boot. "I thought 'Wow, this was a big success, how are we going to top that?'" Ultimately, he decided that what worked in the past would work in the future as well. "I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel or anything," he continues. "I felt pressure, but it wasn't like I could do anything else than what I already do."
Darius is currently on the road with Brad Paisley as part of Brad's H2O World tour, which runs through November 21. Find tour dates here.