MANKATO — Naked Bob is back from hiatus.
“If you can call 15 years a ‘hiatus,’” chided Matt Marka, lead singer for the recently reunited Mankato band that once captured a large, regional following for its good-humored vibe and original music composed in a mishmash of rock styles. “Our last show was April 1998.”
That’s the last anyone has seen of Naked Bob. During that show at the What’s Up Lounge, the band debuted two new songs and gave no hint of the dissolution to follow.
There was no animosity band members said over drinks at Savoy Bar and Grill in Mankato, which happens to be located just a few downtown blocks from the site of the band’s Saturday reunion during day two of the Post-Holiday Extravaganza.
There were no conflicting personalities, nor struggles with drug or drink that precipitated the band’s breakup. As drummer Eric Bunde said, Naked Bob had simply “run its course.”
After that, a few band members moved away. Some stopped playing music altogether. Bunde — who joined the band midway through its career after being a devoted fan — said he stopped playing drums publicly for the next 10 years.
“I felt disenfranchised when I realized I was not going to be a rock star,” he said.
But Naked Bob did come tantalizingly close.
From 1990-1998, the band released a demo and three albums. After starting out as a three-piece acoustic band, Naked Bob gradually morphed into a five-piece that retained its fan base even after a shift from acoustic to electric.
Along the way, they were recruited by Uncle Bob’s Promotions in Sioux Falls, S.D., and were booked all over the Midwest. They even sent a few recordings to major recording houses, but received only rejection letters.
After the breakup, members occasionally discussed getting back together, but nothing materialized. Those discussions gained momentum in recent years, but there didn’t seem a convenient way to get everyone back together.