Mr. Ray Neal, as he was called back in the day, doesn’t like loose ends.
He always thought there was some unfinished business when Miracle Legion, the alternative rock band popular on college campuses during the 1980s, broke up in 1996.
Record label problems helped cause the explosion. Twenty years later, Neal and pals are putting the pieces back together: Miracle Legion plays The Linda in Albany tonight. Show time is 8 p.m., with Winterpills opening.
“It feels incredible,” Neal said of reuniting with lead singer Mark Mulcahy, bassist Dave McCaffrey and drummer Scott Boultier. “I didn’t really know if it would still be there, what we used to have, and it’s definitely there. We’ve been rehearsing with the full band and it’s just great. I kind of forgot what it felt like.”
The guys would like to forget 1996, when Miracle Legion was without a label and tired of legal disagreements with now-defunct label Morgan Creek. The new album, “Portrait of a Damaged Family,” was ready to go, and Mulcahy created his own label, Mezzotint, to release the collection.
That was near the end. The band’s high spots included “You’re the One-Lee,” which made the rotation on MTV’s “120 Minutes” alternative music show in 1989. The song “So Good,” off the “Drenched” album, was featured in the 1993 film “The Crush.”
Looking up again
Now things are looking up all over again. The “Portrait” album was re-issued earlier this year. And college crowds and everyone else can become Legionnaires once again during a summer tour.
For Neal, time away from Miracle Legion has had some benefits.
WHEN: Today, 8 p.m.
WHERE: The Linda, WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio, 339 Central Ave.
HOW MUCH: $20
MORE INFO: 465-5233, www.thelinda.org
“I think I’m more relaxed than I was in the past because back when we were doing it full time, there were a lot of other implications, a lot of business things involved, record companies,” he said, in a phone interview from Connecticut, where the band rehearsed last week.
“There’s none of that now. Mark and I have played small shows over the last few months here and in England and the response has been incredible. The ticket sales seem OK as far as I know and the most pleasant surprise has been that it’s not just nostalgia; there are some younger folks in the audience. I have no desire to go out and be an oldies act.”
But things change, especially after 20 years. The guys are older and more musically seasoned, but Neal said there has been no problem picking up where 1996 left off.
“We’ve all had a lot of things happen in our lives, but the really odd thing is it doesn’t seem any different at all to me,” he said. “It’s really kind of disturbing almost that you can just sit right back in again. I think if we were on the road for months at a time like we used to be, the dynamic would be different. We’re older and hopefully we’re not as big jerks as we used to be.”
Miracle Legion’s tour started Wednesday in Providence, Rhode Island. After tonight’s gig at the Linda, the Legion will play Brooklyn, Boston, Chicago and Louisiana during a busy July and hit the United Kingdom for gigs during August.
More in the future
After that, Neal expects more Miracle.
“We haven’t talked directly about that because when we first started this whole thing we were like, ‘Is anyone going to care at all this is going to happen?’ ” he said. “People do seem to care. I would love to write more songs with Mark so I will go out on a limb and say, yes, it’s going to happen. We’ll make a record, we’ll write some songs and put them out in some fashion.”
The goal has remained the same. Miracle Legion wants to be versatile.
“We came around at a time when the college music scene was a big thing,” Neal said. “You knew instantly that was how you started your career. It was good that we got our name out and there was a circuit around America you could go play. But I don’t think of us as anything but a band.”
For now, the guys are just glad to be back together as a group. Nobody’s on anybody’s nerves — at least, not yet.
“We’ll see, once we’re in the van for a while, I suppose,” Neal said, laughing.
Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124 or at [email protected] or @jeffwilkin1 on Twitter. His blog is at www.dailygazette.com/weblogs/wilkin.
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