For many touring bands, one bad show is just that, and redemption is a van drive and a soundcheck away. In the summer of 2004, one bad show spelled the end of My Hotel Year.
The Orlando-based quartet was, as usual, far from home, delivering their roaring brand of emotionally charged, dynamic punk rock to small but enthusiastic crowds. This particular night found them in Ohio, down the street from the offices of Doghouse, the label that released their second album, The Curse, and they played a set that, by all the members' accounts, was less than fabulous.
"We had played a really shitty show after two weeks of really good ones," remembers drummer Patrick O'Neal, who now plays with the Country Slashers and History.
While MHY's work ethic meant they were far from the sort of band to take their ball and go home after a brief stumble, that particular show was the moment that months and years of creative dissatisfactions, professional frustrations and personal tensions culminated in a decision to dissolve the band.
"I had talked to `O'Neal` about `quitting` a couple days beforehand," says guitarist/vocalist Travis Adams (currently in Inkwell), "but we got to a point of no return when we were about to go into Canada `after the Ohio show`. So I was like, ‘All right, everyone, I'm gonna quit anyway when we get home, so if anyone else wants to quit, let's go ahead and do it now and we can all go home.' So we ended up driving home from Ohio … together."
"It was a matter of … having it be really negative by the time we finished all those `Canadian` dates," says guitarist Ryan Fleming (now in the Attack and several other bands). "It was only gonna get worse, so we just cut the head off the snake."
That snake had been getting more venomous for some time. When the band's debut album, The Composition of Ending and Phrasing, was picked up by Beyond Records (a BMG-distributed mini-major), MHY was one of the Orlando scene's best hopes for salvaging its post-Pearlman, post-Creed reputation among the masses. Too bad Beyond went bankrupt soon after the disc's 2001 release, making it, as Adams says, "the property of a bank." Touring continued — incessantly, actually — and eventually the band signed to Doghouse, who, in 2004, released The Curse, an album that pushed the band's challenging take on melodic punk into more straightforward territory. The sound was something nobody — from band members to longtime fans — was thrilled about.
"Ultimately what it boils down to is that we lived on the road for four years. When you do that and you don't see any progression in your fan base, you're constantly in debt, you don't have a home and all your shit's in storage … if you're not getting better and you're not growing as a band, you start resenting each other and hating each other.
"We were all on the same page when we decided to call it quits … let's just put it that way," says Fleming. "We were no longer brothers."
"We drove home and played three more shows when we got back, at Will's, in Gainesville and in Tampa," says O'Neal. "The last show we ever did was in Tampa."
But it was without bassist James Woodrich (currently in Megaphone), who had departed the band nearly a year earlier. While his absence may have clued in some MHY fans to the deep acrimony between band members, nobody believed that the band had ended.
"We never had an official last show," says Fleming. "When we finished in Tampa, we said ‘That's it. We're done.' And people were like ‘Ha ha, you're really funny.' But, seriously, that was it."
Until now. Reuniting for one show — "and one show only," says Adams (plus an acoustic sampling earlier in the afternoon; see below) — in order to bid farewell to their fans and to bid farewell to the acrimony that built up between the members. While this one-night stand will be documented for a possible DVD and live CD, it's unlikely to result in any future work under the My Hotel Year banner.
"`The breakup` was abrupt," says Fleming, "and granted, some things happened after the fact — a bunch of stupid bullshit — between some of us. But I see this show as a way to say thank you to each one of us in the band and to our fans too, since we never really had a chance to say goodbye."firstname.lastname@example.org