The ill-fated neo-swing revival died a predictable death as quickly as it was born almost 10 years ago now, but you wouldn’t know it from the career of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Formed in Ventura in 1993, the band got caught up in the Zoot Suit Mania that swept the country in the late ’90s, a phenomenon it helped usher in thanks to its appearance in the indie comedy classic Swingers. The group signed to Capitol, had a hit record and single and reached what common knowledge would indicate as their zenith, performing at the Super Bowl XXXIII Halftime Show alongside Gloria Estefan and Stevie Wonder.
It should have been downhill from there. But while the band isn’t exactly burning up the charts, and even though the guys in it (all original members, by the way) aren’t getting mobbed in the streets, things are still going amazingly well for the city’s biggest musical export — so well, in fact, that singer Scotty Morris feels like he needs a year off.
“Our career is strange,” says Morris, 41. “We’re not a household name, but when the person sitting next to me on a plane asks, ‘What do you do?’ and I say ‘I sing for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy,’ they go, ‘Oh my God, I love you guys.’ It has flipped into an interesting anonymity. We are not a household name, but people are still big fans.”
Since jumping and jiving into public consciousness with its self-titled major label debut (and subsequently wailing right out of it with their follow-up, This Beautiful Life, a record they were given only eight weeks to produce) BBVD has continued touring and recording, releasing its third album, Save My Soul, on indie imprint Vanguard in 2003 and both a live record and collection of Christmas tunes in 2004. In 2006, the band played 200 gigs — everything from corporate parties to 40,000-seat amphitheaters — ending the year with two nights at the Hollywood Bowl and a sold-out New Year’s Eve show at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles. Morris has remained especially busy, writing music for the Disney film The Wild and the theme song for NBC’s Last Call with Carson Daly.
As for 2007, Morris’s “year off” is apparently going to have to wait. First, on April 22, the band is performing at the Ventura County Arts Council’s annual Art Stars Awards Reception, an event Morris emceed last year. In June, BBVD will be featured on the lead-off track on a Dean Martin tribute album, featuring a duet with Shelby Lynne and, thanks to digital technology, the late Martin himself. And in August, the band returns to the Hollywood Bowl for two nights, backed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
On top of all that, Morris is in the process of writing a new Big Bad Voodoo Daddy album. “Everyone wants an answer from me on this one,” he says. “It’s been a really long six or seven years, and I think our fans really want something amazing, something that represents where we are right now.” So when will they see it? “We’re really strict on time. And that is: We will start recording when I’m done.”