Gin Blossoms still a crowd pleaser

2013-09-06T00:00:00Z Gin Blossoms still a crowd pleaserTom Lounges Times Correspondent
September 06, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The short-lived Grunge music-era was already starting to wane by 1992 as melody-driven rock sounds once again found a place on radio playlists. The Tempe, Arizona group -- Gin Blossoms – helped lead the way with their debut album, “New Miserable Experience,” powered by the breakthrough Top 10 single, “Hey Jealousy.”

Four more songs from that first album followed at radio – “Mrs. Rita”, “Found Out About You”, “Allison Road” and “Until I Fall Away” – making Gin Blossoms one of the biggest names in the alt-rock scene at that time. The success of their first album with some added buoyancy added by the Top 10 hit “Til I Hear from You,” recorded for and featured on the 1995 film soundtrack of “Empire Records,” kept the band on the road for nearly three years.

Their 1996 sophomore album, “Congratulations...I’m Sorry,” kept the momentum going with the release of two of the most played songs on radio that year – “Til I Hear From You” and “Follow You Down” – each scoring the group an ASCAP (American Society of Composers and Songwriters) awards.

But before their prestigious new awards could even collect dust, Gin Blossoms shocked fans and media by disbanding. “Things were changing and who knows if we would have been able to survive. By taking that break when we did and stopping while the band was still hot, we can have a career now,” reflected guitarist Scotty Johnson of that time in the group’s career. “In the late ‘90s, the boy band thing really took over.”

After sufficient down time spent doing other musical projects and enjoying their families, in 2002 a Gin Blossoms’ hits package (“From The Outside Looking In”) was released by the group’s former label, A&M Records. With a renewed buzz from that release, vocalist Robin Wilson rallied the troops for a Gin Blossoms reformation.

“It just seemed to be the right time,” said Johnson of the reunion. “Robin and our bass player Bill (Leen) called to tell me that they had been working together on some new songs and wondered if I wanted to get together with them. The three of us hung out for a while together and then called up Jesse. He was ready to give it a go again too. From there everything sort of fell back into place and the four of us have been together again ever since.”

The band has rotated a few different beat-keepers through the line-up since then, with current member Scott Hessel slipping behind the drum kit in 2012.

Finding their fan base still in place after the reunion, Gin Blossoms have been touring ever since, with their continued popularity getting further bolstered when their song “Follow You Down” was prominently featured in the popular film, “How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days.”

Since then, Gin Blossoms have given fans a pair of notable studio albums – 2006’s “Major Lodge Victory” and 2010’s “No Chocolate Cake” – supplemented in 2009 by the band’s first ever live concert album. Each release has found a good measure of success in the new digital music world of the web, where both old and new fans continue to show the band love and support.

Singles from the studio albums “Learning The Hard Way” and “Long Time Gone” (both from “Major Lodge Victory”) got strong airplay at Triple A radio stations in most markets, while “Miss Disarray” (from “No Chocolate Cake”) broke into the Top 50 on the Hot AC Singles chart and enjoyed a few weeks of solid radio spins as well.

Those more recent radio favoriteS will likely be heard along with the old favorites when Gin Blossoms fire up their amps Saturday at Valparaiso’s Central Park Plaza. “We play all the songs people come expecting to hear and more.” said Johnson.

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