Reports of Hootie & the Blowfish's demise in the wake of frontman Darius Rucker's country music success this year have been greatly exaggerated, according to Rucker himself.
"To be honest with you, we're not even split up right now, and we're not really thinking about splitting up," Rucker tells Billboard.com. "We have four shows coming up in March. But it was more the group wanted to stop touring every summer, to not go on the road every summer just 'cause we can. People wanted to do other things with their lives.
"We're still a band. Even if something were to happen and we didn't play for years, we would still consider ourselves a band. We've been doing this more than half of our lives."
Rucker also predicts that the Blowfish, whose last album, "Looking for Lucky," came out in 2005, will "make a record some time down the road. It's not going to be this year or next year, but I'm sure we will."
The singer, meanwhile, has plenty on his plate thanks to "Learn To Live," his second solo album and first country venture, which spawned the hit "Don't Think I Don't Think About It," the first country chart-topper by an African-American artist since 1983. Rucker, who prepared 60 songs for the project, says he can't wait to start working on the follow-up.
"I'm ready to start writing and ready to record," Rucker reports. But, he adds, his label, Capitol Nashville, "has a lot of single ideas for this record, so we're just gonna play it by ear. I'm just gonna keep putting out singles as long as they want and stay on the road."
Rucker will perform his song "If I Had Wings" at tonight's "Christmas in Washington," which will be broadcast on TNT. In 2009 he's doing a three-week tour with Brad Paisley and Dierks Bentley, and he's in talks for "a really big" summer tour that, for the moment, he "can't say anything about. But it's a really great tour. It's gonna be fun and really exiting, and I really hope it happens."