Spartanburg, S.C.
Jan 16, 2004
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Posted on July 18, 2003

Spartanburg band Fluffy to regroup tonight at Guitar Bar

By Baker Maultsby | Staff Writer

The trajectory of Fluffy went something like this:

In 1991, the band began playing gigs at Dawggone, the now-defunct but fondly remembered east-side music club. Audiences were slim. So slim that in the "Small Town Paper," the weekly satire guitarist Mike Johns wrote by hand and photocopied for publication at the bar, Fluffy was cited as the "Lowest Grossing Band at the Dawg," earning at the door such paltry sums as $9.47.

On the strength of rock and pop songs by Johns and co-leader Matthew Knights, the group began to draw attention locally.

Within months, Fluffy was playing to a near-packed Dawggone on a regular basis. The band soon released a cassette tape of original songs.

Then drummer Kevin Heuer quit, and the band fell apart.

Today, 12 years later, Fluffy will regroup.

The setting is different; with its old home base closed, the band will take the stage at the Guitar Bar on Pine Street. And the approach has changed somewhat, too. As Knights recalls, a primary reason for Heuer's departure was that he felt out of step with the other members' rowdier lifestyle.

What remains is the band's considerable well of musicianship and creativity.

Before and after Fluffy, Knights had a following for his emotionally charged, highly sophisticated songwriting and hard-driving guitar playing.

He had been the subject of record label interest for a time during the 1980s, though a contract never panned out.

Johns and Knights had been friends through those years.

Johns, who currently plays guitar with Spartanburg band the Edmonds, was the bass player with the , a band that achieved national acclaim. Though he wasn't the primary songwriter, it was one of his songs, "Stayin' Up in the City," that drew rave commentary from Billboard Magazine. And during time off with the Accelerators, Knights recalled, Johns sat in with his band and helped him finish songs.

"Mike really helped me with my songs before Fluffy," he said.

Fluffy blended Knights' edgier melodies and Johns' pop stylings, coming up with a sound that appealed to fans of the era's alternative rock without alienating those who had followed the two songwriters' earlier work.

Songs like "The Underdogs," "Tonight" and "For You" were highlights of the band's live shows.

Knights seems disappointed that the band broke up just as it appeared ready for a breakthrough. And he expresses disappointment that his relationship with Johns became strained toward the end of the band's run.

"We were living together, and we probably got on each other's nerves. We have some space between us now," said Knights, who is now married and lives in Atlanta.

The idea of a reunion has been kicked around by Knights and fans of Fluffy for some time, Knights admits. At first, he said, Johns wasn't too intrigued.

"I just had to keep asking him and asking him."

The prodding was well worth it, Knights believes.

"It's great. It's great," he said. "It was such a good band, even though it only lasted a few months. It's good to see it's still there."

Baker Maultsby can be reached at 562-7425 or [email protected]