The songs were ubiquitous and middlebrow, and Hootie was considered hopelessly unhip. Rock critics cringed, and "Saturday Night Live" made fun of Rucker, spoofing him as the leader of Frat Nation.
"We didn't care about that," Rucker said without sounding defensive. "All we cared about is that we wanted to make it."
Perhaps because of overexposure, the depth of Hootie's songs was often overlooked. Listeners didn't realize "Drowning" was about South Carolina flying the Confederate flag in its statehouse and "Hold My Hand" was about racism.
"?'Hold My Hand' is a protest song," said Rucker, "but the chorus was all people heard."
After "Cracked Rear View," Hootie faded. They were victims of a backlash, Rucker said. "It wasn't cool to like Hootie. That record was so big. It was everywhere. You can't maintain at that level."
Even today, Hootie can't seem to get much respect. It was omitted from a recent CNN series about the '90s. "To mention all those one-hit wonders and not mention us?" Rucker wondered. "There hasn't been a record since ('Cracked Rear View') that has sold more than we did."
The band became eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year, but it wasn't even nominated.
"They're not going to put us on the ballot," Rucker opined. "If they did put us on the ballot and we get in, great. But it's not something I think about."
Hootie and the Blowfish has been MIA for more than a decade.
It was drummer Jim (Soni) Sonefeld who put the brakes on touring. In 2008, four years after getting sober, he told his bandmates he didn't want to tour anymore. There was no official announcement.