Hot Rod Circuit was always, perhaps secretly, an Alabama band. But shortly after the band formed while lead vocalist Andy Jackson was living in Auburn, they relocated to Connecticut and became detached from the Alabama scene. It was a scene that wasn’t thriving the way it is now, nearly two decades later, and they quickly gained a following in the Northeast.
“[Guitarist] Casey [Prestwood] and I started the band in Alabama, but then we moved to Connecticut,” Jackson said. “Things took off from there and we started touring and became known as an east-coast band. We never denied our roots; just adapted to where we were at that moment.”
After the band split in 2007, Jackson moved back to Alabama. He’s planted roots this time while forging ahead with a rock and roll career, and he’s more connected to the city than before.
“I love Birmingham,” he said. “I’ve been back for 10 years.”
In that decade, he maintained other projects. There was Death in the Park, whose debut featured vocals from Paramore’s Hayley Williams, and Terrible Things, a collaboration with Fred Mascherino of Taking Back Sunday. Most recently, he released a record as Andy Jackson and the Mary Tyler Mormons, a band he brought to Saturn in December.
But following a flirtation with getting the band back together in 2011, it looks like maybe now, it’s happening for good.
“This is the lineup that started this thing and it just seemed to make the most sense,” Jackson said.
That’s Prestwood on guitair, Jay Russell on bass and Mike Poorman on drums. The band has spent the past couple of months on the road as part of a huge, nationwide punk rock tour with Say Anything and Bayside. And as soon as it wraps, they’ll play their first Birmingham show since a stop at the Boiler Room with Further Seems Forever in 2002.
“[Say Anything and Bayside] are old tour friends, and they asked us to do it,” Jackson said of landing a spot on the lengthy tour. “We thought it was perfect timing with the 15-year anniversary Vagrant reissue for Sorry About Tomorrow on vinyl coming out.”
The reunion for the Warped Tour mainstays was kind of an accident, but it’s gone well. And it looks like it may lead to more.
“We were asked to play some festivals,” Jackson said. “We’re all great friends, so it started as just a way to get together and hang. That eventually led to talks about doing a new record and starting our own label.”
Things are much different now than they were when the band formed during the height of the punk movement of the late 90s. Maturity has improved road life, but a 10-year hiatus doesn’t come without challenges.
“We’re much smarter at touring [now],” Jackson said. “But there is a bit of a disconnect, since we’ve been out of the scene for quite some time. The upside of that is winning over new fans.”
The new single is “Default,” and Jackson promises a full-length album will follow. In the meantime, the band will be reissuing its catalog on vinyl.
There’s resurgence from the punk rock all-stars of the late ’90s right now. Now, finally, Birmingham’s own, Hot Rod Circuit is poised to make waves with the older fans that are seeking nostalgia and with an entirely new, younger audience they’ve not yet met.
Hot Rod Circuit comes to Saturn on Sunday, May 28. Bright Knives and A New Kind of Hero will open. Doors are at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $14 in advance and $18 at the door. For more information, visit saturnbirmingham.com.