Sitting down with the reunited members of Belly in a Middletown, RI, coffee shop is a great reminder about the importance of band chemistry. My questions are frequently derailed as the group — singer/guitarist Tanya Donelly, guitarist Tom Gorman, bassist Gail Greenwood + drummer Chris Gorman — dissolves into laughter over a shared joke or surreal, salty asides. So right away you can throw out the idea that the band’s reunion after 20+ years is a nostalgia trip or a callow cash-in.
In a way, though, it’s an opportunity to rewrite history. The band, which was founded by former Throwing Muses songwriter + guitarist Tanya Donelly (she was also a co-founder of Kim Deal’s Breeders), had fairy-tale success out of the starting gate — particularly with the release of their fizzy pop masterpiece, Star, in 1993.
Star’s punchy follow-up, King, was recorded with rock producer Glyn Johns in the Bahamas and was met — unfairly, one could definitively add — with a sophomore slump-style backlash that ground the band, exhausted from endless buzz-bin touring, to a screeching halt.
You can sense how strongly they all wished for a different outcome, particularly Tanya, who began performing select King songs (and Belly songs in general) during her live sets over the past few years.