Pete Donnelly, Mike Gent and Pete Hayes, known collectively as the Figgs, return to Saratoga Springs Friday night where the group got its start back in 1987.
"Yeah, but don't call it a reunion concert," joked Hayes, the group's drummer. "We've been hard at work together for 30 years. Well, it's been 28 years for me. I'm the new guy."
The Figgs, all Skidmore students when they first met three decades ago, will be playing Friday at 9 p.m. at the Newberry Music Hall at 388 Broadway in Saratoga Springs. While Donnelly and Gent knew each other in high school in Saratoga, Hayes headed to Skidmore after graduating from Marshfield High School near Boston in 1987. He spoke to the Gazette earlier this week.
Question: How often do you guys play together these days?
Answer: We still do 40 to 50 shows a year, but we no longer drive across the country. We fly somewhere, where there's a good-paying gig, and then we fill in with other shows in that area. We haven't driven cross-country since 2006. But we went down South last year, up to the Northwest, and then we toured in Japan for two weeks earlier this year.
Q: What do you remember about your early days at Skidmore College?
A: Pete, Mike and Guy Lyons were the hot Saratoga band, and then Guy left and I joined them and we were the hot Skidmore band. I went to Skidmore and majored in English, and I was the only one to graduate back then, although we were all proud of Pete when he went back to Skidmore and got his degree. I wanted to write back then. Then I started playing the drums and that changed everything. Fortunately, in 1989 they needed a drummer.
Q: How has the band evolved over 30 years?
A: We have a few friends who join us now and then and play the keyboards or a second guitar, but us three are still the core of the group. I feel like our writing has improved, and I feel like I'm a better lyricist than I was back then. I still enjoying writing music but it comes slowly. We have some new stuff that I'm eager to play for the folks in Saratoga. It's a new album we have coming up with tons of music, but on Friday we'll also play plenty of old stuff.
Q: Who were your favorite musicians growing up?
A: I loved the Beatles and RIngo Starr. I watched the performances on the Ed Sullivan Show more than most people. I was born before they broke up, and I feel like I'm a real scholar of the group. Ringo was fantastic, and I also loved Pete Thomas (Elvis Costello, Squeeze), Tommy Ardolino of NRBQ, who passed away recently, and of course, Nick Avery of the Kinks.
Q: You still enjoy each other after three decades of making music together?
A: We're still making it happen. It's hard to describe but we're like one big family, and I think we've become something greater than just the three of us. Those guys are like family to me, and now that we have kids we're all one big, giant family.