Adam Thorn sits down at the table, pointing to Eric Mann’s outfit of the day. They’re wearing almost the exact same clothes, with a slight variation in the color of their pants.
“You gotta wear black pants man!” Thorn says as he gets up to get coffee.
Mann chuckles and shakes his head, his blond hair a little shorter now than how he wore it 20 years ago. Thorn looks different too. He’s got more of a beard and a clean crew cut. The pair, who used to play together in the Greensboro-based band Kudzu Wish, reminisce on the band’s first months together as they sit in Tate Street Coffee on Tuesday morning.
“We would practice in the auditorium on campus and in dorm rooms,” says Mann, who met his fellow bandmates at Guilford College as a freshman.
Now, almost 10 years after their last live performance, the band is getting back together for a reunion show, coupled with the release of a music video seen below and EP of remixed audio from the band’s 2005 recordings.
Kudzu Wish formed in 1998, consisting of Mann, a guitarist; Devender Sellars, guitarist and backup singer; Tim LaFollette on bass; and Geordie Woods on drums. Thorn joined as the band’s frontman two years later.
They began like many bands do: a bunch of friends with the simple goal of playing music. Their songs transcended any single genre and included a little bit of indie, a lot of rock, some punk and elements of hardcore. They broke up in 2005 after Woods joined the Peace Corps and the rest of the group also felt it was time to move on.
The last time they played together was in August 2009, after LaFollette was diagnosed with ALS. He passed away from the disease in 2011.
Mann says they decided to do a live show almost a decade later to promote the 2005 EP, whose audio he rediscovered in 2016. The original 2005 raw studio files were found when he opened a box of Kudzu Wish memorabilia that Sellars dropped off at his house before he moved away.
“These are songs that never got a proper release,” Thorn says. “They are the last songs we wrote and recorded, and they were a part of our set that we were playing live at the time. It makes sense to have them documented.”
The band plays the Crown at the Carolina Theatre on Friday and will have the EP for sale there. Mann says the band has already sold about 100 tickets. Old Heavy Hands and Totally Slow open the show.
When asked if they thought they would ever make music with each other again, both Mann and Thorn said they doubted it.
“It’s unlikely but you never wanna say never,” Thorn says.
He says that everyone, including him, is so busy with their current lives.
“I’m trying to get a little more time for myself in there,” Thorn says. “But there’s really not time. I’m not playing music at all.”
Initially, Mann says he just wanted to have a better version of the recordings for himself. But after learning how much it would cost to make a few EPs versus a few hundred, he and Thorn figured they might as well make more. In all, they’re selling 250 physical records and offering digital downloads too.
All living former members of Kudzu Wish will play the show, with Ry Eshelman filling in on bass.
“It wasn’t hard to twist their arms to play a show,” Thorn says about getting the band back together. “We’ve all got lives — well you guys do. Everything naturally flowed into each other. Tim loved being the center of attention and he loved making recordings and being able to play for people. It seems like a no-brainer. It’s not against any kind of spirit of Tim to play a show.”
And while Thorn and Mann have kept up with each other, some of the other members of the band will be reuniting for the first time in years.
“I haven’t seen Geordie since 2009,” Thorn says.
“Yeah I saw Geordie once maybe six years ago,” says Mann.
Both Mann and Thorn live in Greensboro.
The former guitarist spends his time playing in his band Basement Life and taking care of his two kids, while Thorn works more than 40 hours a week at First Carolina Deli and Meridian in Winston-Salem. Woods works for an international healthcare nonprofit while Sellars will be coming down from New York, where he works for Amazon.
“That stuff in our early twenties still impacts people is crazy,” Mann says.
“The fact that we can even play a show somewhere outside our parents’ basement,” Thorn adds.
Now, after 10 years, Thorn says both old and new faces will show up in the crowd.
“There will probably be a large group of Guilford college and old friends,” Mann says.
Lawrence Holdsworth of the band Tiger Bear Wolf says he’s already got his ticket to the show. Holdsworth attended Guilford a year later than most of Kudzu Wish’s members and remembers the impact the band had on him and his friends. He even roomed with some of them.
“They were mentors to us,” Holdsworth says. “Good friends as well. Good role models.”
Holdsworth designed the cover of the EP, which has a modern cartoony spaceship on it and uses a primary color scheme.
“I feel that it’s an exciting moment for a lot of us who really sort of grew up with that music,” he says. “Those songs are really anthemic and speak to the concerts they had at the time. So, a moment like this, for me it’s an opportunity to enjoy that again.”
And that, is exactly what Thorn hopes for on Friday.
“I hope that people just enjoy themselves,” he says. “I just honestly hope it’s a good time overall.”
Info about the show as well as tickets can be found online here.