Together Again

The Dirt Fishermen reunite after 15 years


In December of 1988, a group of 20-somethings decided to form the band Treehouse. In 1989 at a farm owned by Gina Gregerson (vocalist, guitarist), Treehouse played for their friends and the farm's feathered inhabitants. Afraid people would confuse them with local bands Treepeople and Warehouse, the new bandmates changed their name to the Dirt Fishermen. For the next six years the Fishermen were a popular, Northwestern indie-rock band, touring the country and sharing stages with the likes of Sunny Day Real Estate and the Young Fresh Fellows. But, the ingredients that often bring members of a band closer together can be the same that tear it apart: long days on the road, youth, personality differences and a lack of label support. It was all a little more than the Fishermen could handle so, in their own words, "the band imploded." Fifteen years later with a lifetime of changes between them, Gregerson, David Grapp (vocalist, guitarist), Dan Krejci (bassist), Glenn Newkirk (drummer) and KT Shanafelt (vocalist, guitarist) have decided to perform together again. BW was invited to sit in on the last rehearsal before their first reunion show.

Boise Weekly: Why a reunion now?

GN: My 40th birthday is October 7. About two years ago, I started talking to Dan about the possibility of doing a show.

GG: KT and I had talked for a few years about how nice it would be.

DK: For two years, we've been playing "friend tag." Glenn would talk to me, I would talk to KT, KT would talk to Gina. All four of us would individually run into Dave. It just came full circle.

Why did you guys break up in the first place?

KS: It's stressful. I don't know if you noticed the tired factor here. We started playing at 4 p.m. today and played until 8 p.m. It's a lot of work planning shows and playing. It's a big machine. We just didn't take the time to reconnect. Plus, we didn't have a lot of label support.

(Nervous laughter)

GG: Yeah, but we were in our 20s. Speaking for myself, I didn't communicate well, if at all. There were a lot of things not communicated. Things build up. We [the band] are really different people with different personalities. Stuffing us all in a van was probably the worst idea in the world, especially in our 20s. Now we're more mature versions of those people. I really like all these people, but back then, I was in a deep morass of my own emotional hell that I had created.

DK: Our biggest problem with C/Z [their record label] was being here in Boise. We couldn't just walk into the office in Seattle when we wanted and raise a ruckus. We'd call to say what's up and no one would call us back. There's a reason [the Treepeople] wrote a song called "House of Pain."

KS: We paid our way, we booked everything, we pressed our own albums, and ... I don't know. We just didn't feel taken care of. The whole "record label" thing was no big deal. It was almost insignificant, but we thought by being on a label some big change would be felt, and it never felt like any big change came about.

GG: Sure, it wasn't the best relationship, but I'm still grateful for the experience. I met some of my best friends and I got to travel. I know it wasn't much compared to bands that tour around the world or around the country, but still it was more than I'd ever gotten to do. I realize it was a problematic relationship, but it wasn't a completely negative thing. I don't have anything against the label at this point. It's been a long time.

How many shows do you guys think you did when you were together? (Answers here were varied and everyone spoke at once. Fortunately, Newkirk kept a thorough scrapbook of the band's handbills, press and photos, though, and his estimate is roughly 400.)

How many songs are you guys planning to play?

GG: Thirty-two. We wanted to do them all but ...

KS: It would have killed Glenn. It would have been too Spinal Tap.

GG: We're going to switch the songs around a little, but we'll end up doing just about everything during the three shows.

What do you see happening with the band after the last scheduled show?

KS: Then we're in the starting gate for the next show. I don't think it's going to stop; we'll just have to wait for a reason to do it again.

So, would you pick this all right back up again?

KS: Sure, though it wouldn't be full time. We're all just so busy. Gina has a full-time band [Lovey]. We have jobs and children.

GG: I'm just really grateful to be getting to do this and to be getting to do these songs again.

DG: Road trip!

GN: I don't think that's going to happen (laughs). Speaking for myself, I don't think that there are any great songs left to be written [by the Dirt Fishermen]. But nothing's set in stone.

Oct. 7, 8:30 p.m., $3 advance, $5 door, Neurolux, 111 N. 11th St.; Oct. 20, 5:30 p.m., FREE, Record Exchange, 1105 W. Idaho St.; Oct. 31, 8 p.m., $16, opening for Built to Spill, the Egyptian Theatre, 700 W. Main St.