MRM recently interviewed Hootie & The Blowfish drummer Jim “Soni” Sonefeld. Sonefeld spoke about his origins, attending the University of South Carolina, Hootie & the Blowfish and the re-release of his “Snowman Melting – 15th Anniversary Deluxe Edition” album. For more information, please visit WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | TIKTOK | TWITTER | YOUTUBE
MRM: How are you liking this beautiful fall weather? Also, have you been keeping up with USC Gamecocks Football this season? (There’s always next year haha)
Sonefeld: I love the fall weather here in Columbia; it’s my favorite time of year! Always reminds me of growing up and playing peewee football as a young child. Which, speaking of football, we love our Gamecocks, but it’s been a tough season. We’re keeping the faith that Coach Beamer is turning this ship in a winning direction though!
MRM: Speaking of sports, is it true you played soccer at USC?
Sonefeld: I also have many found memories of playing soccer here for the Gamecocks! It was the reason I came to South Carolina all the way from Illinois as a freshman. I never expected it would be a one-way trip here, but I’m happy to call SC my home. We still support our team and go to as many matches as we can.
MRM: Just wanted to ask you about how you started in music?
Sonefeld: My start in music began as a kid listening to records on our big, living room stereo console in the 1970s. I was fascinated by the whole process of getting the albums out and seeing them spinning on the turntable, and looking at the pictures on the album covers. Listening to rock music set me pretty quickly on a path to drumming. I had my first drum lesson at age thirteen. I was a late bloomer in joining a band, and didn’t officially get in a group until I was 21 years old… ‘Bachelors Of Art’, here in Columbia, SC.
MRM: How did you end up joining Hootie & the Blowfish?
Sonefeld: I found Hootie & the Blowfish right after graduating from South Carolina late in the summer of 1989. They were looking to make a turn away from being a cover band and into original music. I was desperate to start writing with a band too. The timing was perfect! After one audition I officially joined and we started writing together and booking as many shows as we could until we could afford to get in studio to record our original music. We made a pretty crappy demo in late 1989 and then our first official independent release(on cassette!) in 1990.
MRM: Fast forward all of these years later, how amazed were you all to sell out the Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, SC for three straight shows?
Sonefeld: One of my biggest recent thrills in Columbia was selling out three nights here in 2019! We had only played a handful of shows here during the preceding 15 years. I was hopeful Columbia would be a big homecoming and all my dreams were satisfied! We videotaped one of the shows and hope to make it available someday.
MRM: Do you have any updates on any Hootie shows in 2024? (Note: A week after this interview was conducted, Hootie & the Blowfish announced a massive summer tour with Collective Soul and Edwin McCain.)
Sonefeld: We are talking about getting together for another tour; that conversation is always in the back of our minds. We’re thankful many of our fans have stuck around even during long stretches between tours. The timing has to be right though. I hope it will fall into place soon – I’m getting old!
MRM: Can you tell us about your “Snowman Melting—15th Anniversary Deluxe Edition” album?
Sonefeld: It was a joy to celebrate the anniversary of “Snowman Melting” this fall and give the album a jolt of energy with a couple of new versions of those older songs. Getting Darius, and Edwin McCain involved with the project made for a fun story, and it was great to collaborate to make some new music. Those guys are the top of the gene-pool as far as quality vocalists go.
Edwin and I have been friends since the early 90s when Hootie was playing clubs on the east coast and he was trying to get in front of bigger audiences. When we got signed to Atlantic Records we knew he wouldn’t be far behind in getting his own record deal.
Working with Lee Turner in the studio was also a great gift for me. He has played keyboards in Darius’s country band for 15 years. I’m happy to have discovered his talents as a producer as we recorded two new songs to add to the original 13 tracks.
MRM: How was it working with producer/co-writer Francis Dunnery?
Sonefeld: Working with Francis Dunnery was amazing! If you’ve never listened to his music do yourself a favor and find some of his stuff. It was my first attempt at lead vocals for a full-length album and I had to learn fast. Francis has a million ideas coming out of his fingertips, which is great when you are looking for new direction. He demanded a lot when it came to my lyrics, and that was a great exercise for me. He also helped me through a big transition in my life as we made this record.
MRM: Where was the music video for “No Reason” with Edwin McCain filmed in at?
Sonefeld: Making music videos isn’t my favorite thing to do, but we ended up shooting the “No Reason” video in downtown Greenville together. Is there anything more unnatural than sitting on a busy corner lip-syncing your song as a videographer prances around you with their camera? Hopefully it didn’t look as awkward as it felt!
MRM: How was it reuniting with Darius Rucker for “Sitting in the Green Grass”?
Sonefeld: Working with Darius was made possible through the magic of technology. There’s a lot of remote work done in music-making these days thanks to modern technology. There was a time long, long ago when you had to all be in the studio together as you recorded. I kind of miss that intimacy. But, it becomes a nice convenience when you live in different cities and have conflicting schedules.
After Lee Turner and I sketched out the vocal plan together, he and Darius recorded his vocals at Lee’s home studio in Nashville. Lee put the vocals tracks together and sent them to me for listening. After many conversations we finally came up with the version we loved!
MRM: What kind of projects should we be on the look out for from you in the near future?
Sonefeld: I’m going to continue putting out solo music in the future. I love the process of writing and recording. I’ll probably stick to my positive, hopeful music in the future. I need to put out music that celebrates life and love, especially when there is so much negativity out there in the world in general.
MRM: Thanks for the interview. Anything else you would like to add?
Sonefeld: Join me on my socials if you want to be part of a joyful message!