Jim "Soni" Sonefeld (drums), Mark Bryan (lead guitar), Dean Felber (bass), Darius Rucker (lead vocals, guitar) were part of The Early Show Summer Concert series.
Hootie & The Blowfish kicked off its cross-country tour in May and will continue throughout the summer.
The band took a two-year break to start families and to work on solo projects. They returned to the studio last year to begin recording their self-titled fifth album.
"Innocence" is the first single from "Hootie & The Blowfish," and it was written by all four members of the band.
Bryan says, "Solo work and a bit of a break let everybody clean the pipes out and return to the band and to writing with a fresh perspective. It's like a relationship; you go on vacation every now and then; it's healthy. And our material is fresher. I'm dead excited."
All four members worked hard on songwriting, learned new instruments and fine-tuned their vocal skills during the break.
According to the band, the primary goal of this new CD was to "capture the energy and excitement of their live shows."
Rucker says, "I dig the diversity on this CD. As for self-titling it, we decided what we wanted to say with this record: 'It's us, we're back.'"
Bryan adds, "In the past, we've tried to dabble in different directions, in folk, R&B, bluegrass, soul, and not just be a straight rock band. We have a singer with a great, distinctive voice, so it's nice to challenge ourselves and we wanted a producer who could go with us and take us in as many directions as possible. Don Was became that person."
Felber notes, "In a lot of ways, I feel like this is our first album. We promised ourselves that we wouldn't be done until we were really, really proud of it. We weren't going to just go in and do it with the best songs we happened to have. They had to be the right songs or we wouldn't have done it."
As on past albums, Hootie's new songs are collaborative efforts. One of Rucker's favorites, "Woody," was written for his actor pal Woody Harrelson. Rucker says, "Woody's wife asked me to write a letter for a 'book' to celebrate his 40th birthday. I'm not really a letter writer, like 'Dear Woody,' so I did what I do best. I wrote a song, and I was just going to record it and play it for Woody. Then my wife heard it and told me I should take it to the band."
Among the special guests on Hootie & The Blowfish is Harrelson himself who joins the vocal chorus on "Little Brother."
Hootie & The Blowfish broke through to huge success with its 1994 debut, "Cracked Rear View."
"Cracked Rear View" was followed by the multi-platinum selling "Fairweather Johnson" (1996) and "Musical Chairs" (1998). A collection of rarities, "Scattered, Smothered, and Covered" was released in 2000.