Woolworthy frontman, guitarist and songwriter Rudy Gonzalez says he occasionally drew a blank last week when going through his band's song catalog when preparing for their final show together.
"We're rehearsing and playing some songs that we haven't played in a long, long time, and I'm out there forgetting lyrics," he said. "At one point, our drummer is telling me what chords to play. It was pretty funny, and it felt so good to play those songs."
Scheduled to wrap up a decade's worth of recording and touring today at Chicago's Double Door, Gonzalez formed Woolworthy with bassist Rick Uncapher in 1995, and went through a series of lineup changes before concluding with drummer Mark Doyle and guitarist Dave Suh.
Woolworthy drew comparisons to the likes of the Replacements, Cheap Trick and pre-"Iris" Goo Goo Dolls, and released a pair of original releases, now out of print, in the late-'90s. An EP, "Blasted into Ashes," and a compilation featuring selections from the out-of-print discs, 2002's "Recycler," still are available.
While the band cultivated a sturdy fan base on their home front, they struggled throughout the rest of the country. Yet they were better received in the U.K. and Europe, where they toured in 2001 and 2002, than they were in the States, according to Gonzalez.
"We'd go and play somewhere in (the middle of nowhere in) Idaho, and maybe one person in the audience would know who we are," Gonzalez said. "But we'd go overseas and play, like, Glasgow, and half the place is singing our songs with us. That was really exciting for us."
The beginning of the end of the band came last year, when Gonzalez found himself struggling writing songs for what was planned to be the next Woolworthy release. Like his fellow band mates, Gonzalez flexed his musical muscle in projects outside of Woolworthy, and his songwriting began to lean more toward those than his main band.
The decision to split, according to Gonzalez, was amicable.
"We're all really close friends and the band lasted longer than we thought it would," he said. "We have such a good time together that it would be easy for us to just keep doing it. But I wasn't writing Woolworthy-type songs anymore, and we kind of looked at each other and said 'I guess it's time to do other things.'"
Woolworthy expects to crowd the stage for their final show, bringing up past members to help send the band off on a positive note. But while today's "last waltz" marks the end of the band as an actively functioning unit, Gonzalez said he doesn't rule out the occasional one off show in the future.
"I would never turn down an opportunity to jam with my boys in Woolworthy," he said. "We're all going to be busy with our other projects, but I really love all of those guys."
Opening for Woolworthy at Double Door are fellow Chicago-based acts Cisco Pike, The Ladies and Gentlemen and The Violent Hour.
Woolworthy, Cisco Pike, The Ladies and Gentlemen, The Violent Hour
When: 9 tonight (21-and-over show)
Where: Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
FYI: (773) 489-3160 or www.doubledoor.com