Gin Blossoms expand repertoire but retain band's classic sound

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When the Tempe, Ariz.-based pop/rock act the Gin Blossoms reunited in early 2000, the members were surprised to find the experience felt both familiar and new.

When the Tempe, Ariz.-based pop/rock act the Gin Blossoms reunited in early 2000, the members were surprised to find the experience felt both familiar and new.  Special
Special
When the Tempe, Ariz.-based pop/rock act the Gin Blossoms reunited in early 2000, the members were surprised to find the experience felt both familiar and new.

Scott Johnson, the lead guitar player since 1993, said it was easy to find the familiar sound, which combined elements of jangling pop and midtempo rock and a touch of country twang.

"It all fit like a glove," a still bemused Mr. Johnson said in a recent telephone interview. "It was very comfortable, so, of course, we started wondering why we broke up. It seemed silly once we got older and a little wiser."

The band released two albums in the early 1990s, including the wildly popular New Miserable Experience in 1993. Buoyed by its reputation as an exciting live act with radio-ready singles, including Hey Jealousy and Till I Hear It from You , the band toured extensively until 1997; road weariness and the desire to explore other opportunities then led the Blossoms to disband. The group reunited for a 2001 New Year's show in Phoenix, and from that point, reinvested in the band one small step at a time.

"I don't think we had to relearn our style, but there was thinking that went into writing songs for the band," he said. "I mean, we had been separated for almost five years, and that's a decent amount of time." The result was the 2006 release Major Lodge Victory , a collection of hard-hooked power pop that both recalls the classic Blossoms sound and finds the band trying to expand its musical palette.

"We try, and I'm still not sure if we achieve it, but we try to do more groove-oriented songs," Mr. Johnson said. "But at the same time, we know what we are good at and we know that we should stay close to what we know."

Mr. Johnson said geography played a significant part in developing the band's sound.

"This is the West," he said with a laugh. "I mean, I know real cowboys. So some of that twang got in there. Also, we didn't get to hear a lot of the stuff that came out of places like Athens. What we did hear was bands from Los Angeles, so there's also a lot of Byrds, a lot of Plimsouls in there."

Though some are dismissive of the infectious and easily-accessed style of the Gin Blossoms, he said, he finds joy in playing songs that people are happy to hear, songs they can sing along to with a smile on their face.

"There's great satisfaction in that," he said. "I'm happy that we have the opportunity to play this music, remind people of this style. I'm glad we're still able to do it."

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.

IN CONCERT

THE BILL: The Gin Blossoms, with Luna Halo and Edison Project


WHEN: 6 p.m. Sunday; gates open at 5 p.m.


WHERE: Columbia County Amphitheater, 7022 Evans Towne Center Blvd.


COST: $20; forthefansentertainment.com


LISTEN UP: Click here to listen to 'Learning The Hard Way' by the Gin Blossoms.


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