Griffin's personal life also started to take precedence over music. His wife Marla's fledgling independent-show-booking career started to become a financial liability — which became problematic because the couple had a young daughter.

"It was just a bad time for me personally," Griffin says. "Even though there were all these joyous things happening, too, I was not able to suspend disbelief in our music. I was hearing it as if I were a rock critic listening to their thirtieth album that day, after two straight weeks of nothing but that, just cranking out record reviews. I've sat in that chair, and I know how much you can start to hate music and be completely unimpressed by everything you hear."

When he finally revisited the older material in early 2003 with fresh ears, though, he had a far different response.

Prisonshake at the now-defunct club the Gearbox in April 2005.
Doug Teramura
Prisonshake at the now-defunct club the Gearbox in April 2005.

"I loved it!" he says. "[I thought] 'I was fucking crazy, this stuff's great! We just need a couple more good songs — we need a good version of this, redo that one, and we're done.' It took four more years," he laughs, "but that's the gist of it."

Prisonshake's first show in St. Louis in more than two years — and only third overall since SXSW 2007 — is Friday, September 26, at the Bluebird. (Griffin estimates they've played out less than ten times overall since moving from Cleveland in 1994.) Perhaps fittingly, he says the amount of rehearsal time for the gigs will be minimal — thus preserving Prisonshake's spontaneity and mystique, and the potential for a gloriously unhinged concert experience.

"Unless I get ambitious with something, I don't anticipate more than three practices," Griffin says. "That seems to be the perfect number.

"There's an ideal amount of preparation. Too little is not good, too much is not good. You don't want to play the songs so much that you don't feel them anymore, or they don't feel fresh. If they're too rehearsed, then you start playing them the same all the time. And I don't like to do that."

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