Interview with Todd Scheaffer of From Good Homes: A Reunion Of Old Friends

It was a ‘90s rock ‘n’ roll story. Childhood friends Todd Scheaffer, Brady Rymer and Patrick Fitzsimmons formed a band out in Sussex County. Not long after, with the addition of Dan Myers and Jamie Coan, the “hick-pop” jam band known as From Good Homes was formed and toured their way onto RCA Records after self-releasing Hick-Pop Comin’ At Ya in 1994, serving as the headliners over bands like Hootie & The Blowfish, Dave Matthews Band, and Blues Traveler.

Not long after, their major label debut, Open Up The Sky, was released in 1995 and then followed by the self-titled album in 1998. However, one year later, the constant touring and music business pressures led to their disbanding following a farewell show in Waterloo Village attended by over 3,000 fans.

Now the tale picks up again. Ten years later, the band has reunited for two shows at Montclair’s Wellmont Theatre—though they did perform a warm-up show under the name Jefferson Township at the Mercury Lounge. How the story of From Good Homes will continue beyond this is up in the air, but Sheaffer, currently of Railroad Earth, talked about the reunion, the reaction, and the desertification of good venues out in northwestern New Jersey.

How was the warm up show last week?

It was great. It was a lot of fun. The band played really well, and the crowd was fantastic. Only one complaint: It was really hot in the Mercury Lounge. (laughs) The dressing room was like a sauna. We were pouring water on the concrete and dressing in bath towels.

Well, you know, New York small clubs. It hasn’t changed and you know, you’re out there.

We realized that over the years, I think Brady and I counted one time, there were 67 venues that we’ve played in New York City and Mercury Lounge was one that we hadn’t. We actually played a new club, so it’s pretty funny.

Do you actually have a list of all the shows that you’ve ever played?

No we were just B.S.-ing one night, and we started naming and counting them.

How many of them are still in existence?

Well you know the bigger ones, but a lot of the smaller ones disappeared. There’s this one place Delta 88 that we remembered and some place on the Upper East Side where Brady’s brother was a bartender. All kinds of crazy shit. But obviously like Irving Plaza is still there and Roseland.

You and the entire band have been involved with music in one form or another since you dissolved, is there a different dynamic on stage now than there was a decade ago? Have you guys changed as players?

Yeah, I think so. Without a doubt. We’re finding that that’s influencing the way we’re interpreting some of the music and our response to it. Some of the songs have been resonating in richer ways than we kind of anticipated. It’s been interesting. We kind of had an idea of certain songs that definitely felt should be part of these shows and then we started delving into other material and quickly realized that we really shouldn’t rule anything out. Something that you might not think would be that interesting or be fun to play, we’d play it and it would have a whole new life and resonate in ways that you hadn’t expected. That’s been kind of cool, so we decided we’re just going to try everything and see how it flows.

You’re doing a little online poll to see what people want to hear at these reunion shows. Has anything surprised you?

Yeah. People that have brought out songs that we have completely have forgotten about and we didn’t even remember existed (laughs). It’s been a lot of fun. Some things are not a surprise that people want to hear. I think the big surprise is how much of our catalog people know. There are people who’ve been to our very first shows where we played songs that we never played again. This was before everything was available online as a download or whatever, so they must’ve been there. It’s amazing.