When: Sat., Feb. 4, 9 p.m. 2012
Late last year, one of the more popular acts from the late '80s in Chapel Hill, The Popes, re-released their breakthrough debut EP, 1989's Hi, We're the Popes. The six songs offered a punchy set that combined the Hollies' '60s pop suave and college rock spunk, earning glowing reviews in Billboard and The New York Times. Now, they're bringing it back to life for one night.
Lodged in the area timeline between the Southern pop renaissance and the alt-rock explosion, The Popes imploded in 1992 after a series of missteps and an aborted label deal, leaving behind 2 EPs and a lost full-length. Principal Popes songwriters John Elderkin and Steve Ruppenthal reformed in Washington, D.C., in a quartet called The Public Good several years ago. Some friends eventually persuaded them to re-release that first Popes EP digitally.
"I listened to it and it was really good, which was funny because I didn't remember it that way," Elderkin laughs. "We'd get these emails from people, and they hadn't forgotten us. That was a shock."
Bolstered by the response, they contacted third member Henry Pharr and scheduled a reunion, something they swore they'd never do. "Our joke is, 'If the Sex Pistols can do it...,'" Elderkin says.
While that lost album is floating around out there, ownership questions complicate its release. They have considered re-recording the songs. "I'd love to go back," he says, "knowing what I know today." The Popes play with Phil Collins, formerly of Satellite Boyfriend. —Chris Parker