It was 1999, and drummer Kurt Sodergren was enjoying the in-flight movie on the way to a gig with his band, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.
The airline screened the romantic comedy “Never Been Kissed,” starring Sodergren’s celebrity crush Drew Barrymore as reporter Josie Geller. At one point in the movie, James Franco’s character gossips about Josie, saying, “I heard she dated the drummer from the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.”
Sodergren’s bandmates, seated in front of him, promptly whipped their heads around to look at him. He had no idea the film referenced him or his band.
“I just was floored,” Sodergren says. “It’s so cool, and also, so torturous at the same time because it wasn’t really true.”
While he still hasn’t met Barrymore, Sodergren and his band have enjoyed plenty of adventures during its nearly 3,000-show career. Last April, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy celebrated its 25th anniversary.
The band will continue the celebration when it plays at Franklin & Marshall College on March 30 as part of the school’s Sound Horizons Concert Series. The concert will span the band’s catalog, excluding its Christmas albums.
Sodergren says the band is currently preparing to record what will be its 10th full-length studio album.
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy formed in 1989 after bandleader Scotty Morris met Sodergren. They were introduced on a double date arranged by their then-girlfriends. After the girls fell asleep while watching a movie, Morris and Sodergren chatted for hours about music.
While their romantic relationships didn’t last, Morris and Sodergren’s friendship did. They played in separate bands, but made time to jam together. Sodergren remembers secretly using the drum set belonging to the drummer of Morris’s other band.
“I’d have to be really careful to put everything back exactly the way it was, because he would know,” Sodergren says.
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy gained a following in the ’90s for its contemporary swing infused with punk spirit. The band’s popularity swelled after it appeared in the movie “Swingers.” It wrote and performed the theme to the TV show “3rd Rock From the Sun,” and its music continues to be used, including on several seasons of “Dancing with the Stars” and a 2016 episode of “The Simpsons.”
“As much as we can stay out in the zeitgeist, it’s great,” Sodergren says.
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The most rewarding part for Sodergren is knowing he’s inspired a new generation of musicians. He takes special interest in chatting with budding musicians at meet and greet events before and after shows. If they also drum, he tries to give them a pair of drumsticks, and encourages them to reach out to him on social media.
“I’ve followed a few careers and they’re professional musicians or music teachers now,” Sodergren says. “It’s really cool to have even a small part in that decision-making and that spark that was started in them.”
Even with a quarter of a century of experience behind him, Sodergren remembers his own days as a young musician. His father took him to his first concerts, Kiss and Cheap Trick, in 1976. His work with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy introduced him to both of the bands. Sodergren met K