Retro-jazzers Squirrel Nut Zippers have cancelled a summer and fall
tour, and though they've apologized to fans, singer Katharine
Whalen said it was all for the good of their music.
Instead, she said, they'll begin work on a new album.
"Everybody [in the band], independently of each other, in the privacy of
their own homes, came to the same decision -- just to take it slow, to
get the music going again," Whalen said Monday. "[We wanted] to start with the music instead of starting with the money-making part of it, the tour machine."
Zippers saxophonist/guitarist Ken Mosher announced the cancellation of the tour, which was to have begun Aug. 16 in Orlando, Fla., in a message on the Zippers' official website, snzippers.com.
"Sorry to everyone with tickets, to our promoters, and to Erik Selz, who is the greatest manager in the world," he wrote. "We are optimistic that a new Mammoth album will be announced soon."
In the meantime, three members of the band, including Whalen, are working on, or are about to release, solo albums. Also, Whalen is planning a brief solo tour this summer.
But the full band is committed to making new music together, said Whalen, whose Katharine Whalen's Jazz Squad is due May 25.
The group was road-weary, according to Whalen, who said the tour "got booked on us before we were ready."
"There really were two choices, which [were] money or the music," she said. "We felt responsible for the music. We really wanted to get together when there was no pressure and play together ... [to] learn new songs, so people don't have to hear those same songs again, for heaven's sakes."
Whalen and guitarist/vocalist Jimbo Mathus, natives of Chapel Hill, N. C., formed the Squirrel Nut Zippers in 1993, drawing in fellow musicians who shared their love of "hot" jazz from the 1920s and '30s. The Zippers scored an unexpected radio and MTV hit with the song
"Hell" (RealAudio excerpt), from their 1997 album, Hot.
The Zippers will reconvene in the summer to begin working on new songs, according to Whalen. "Everyone's going to bring in new material," she said.
The direction the album will take is unclear. "Who knows?" she said. "[We'll go] straight to the moon. It'll be wild; it'll be really fun."
A spokesperson for Mammoth Records said the label expects a new album from the Zippers, but no release date has been set.
Katharine Whalen's Jazz Squad focuses on more traditional jazz and includes Whalen's renditions of standards such as "Just You, Just Me" (RealAudio excerpt). Mathus and Zippers bassist Stu Cole perform on the album and will accompany Whalen on her summer tour.
Horn player Tom Maxwell is slated to release an as-yet-untitled solo
album in August, and Mathus also is working on an album, Mosher wrote on
the Zippers' website. A Mammoth spokesperson was unable to provide further
details about these projects.