The Gin Blossoms are bringing their jangle pop sound to Ellicottville for a slopeside concert to close the 2014 Summer Music Festival on Sunday, July 6.
The Tempe-based band started out in the late 80’s with their unique sound that took them all the way to a Grammy nomination for their song, “As Long As It Matters.” Unfortunately they lost to The Beatles, which guitarist Jesse Valenzuela said, “It was pretty cool to lose a Grammy to the Beatles. Who else would you want to lose out to?”
With songs like “Hey Jealousy,” “Until I Fall Away,” “Allison Road” and “Found Out About You,” the band quickly moved up the charts and toured extensively for years. They even found great success in films and television with their songs being included in soundtracks for the films “Speed” and “Wayne’s World 2,” until an agreed upon hiatus had the members going their separate ways to work on solo projects.
Reconvening in their hometown of Tempe on New Year’s Eve 2001, they were reenergized and ready to take on the world and they haven’t looked back.
The Summer Local caught up with guitarist Scott “Scotty” Johnson the day before the band was getting set to start out on their summer tour to talk about their busy schedule this summer, their sound and the weather.
With previous summer tours, Summerland in 2012 and 2013’s Under The Sun Tour, Gin Blossoms is the perfect fit for Ellicottville’s Summer Music Festival.
Ellicottville's Summer Music Festival will take place July 4-6, 2014, and will also feature a performance by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, arts & crafts vendors, a strawberry festival, pet parade and more. For ticket information to the slopeside concerts and to find out more about this year’s festival, visit www.ellicottvilleny.com
. For more information on the band visit www.ginblossoms.net
A CONVERSATION WITH SCOTT "SCOTTY" JOHNSON OF THE GIN BLOSSOMS
HULICK: Thanks for taking time to talk to me. I know you guys are getting ready to hit the road tomorrow.
JOHNSON: Yeah, it’s gonna be a busy summer, as usual.
HULICK: Have you been to Ellicottville before?
JOHNSON: We’ve been to the WNY area before, but I don’t think to Ellicottville. It’s funny … you know that Johnny Cash song, “I’ve Been Every Where Man”? (laughs) You think you haven’t been in that place before and then you get there and you all of a sudden think … I was here once.
HULICK: (laughs) How many shows are you doing this summer?
JOHNSON: You know, I just counted and we got 44 books right now. Then I just found out that we’re doing Good Morning America, I believe first part of August.
HULICK: Must be for their Summer Concert in the Park Friday mornings.
JOHNSON: Yes. I guess we have 45 books now. (laughs) I told my friends I didn’t think it was going to be a busy summer … well I was wrong.
HULICK: Your song, “Hey Jealousy,” is played a lot on local radio stations.
JOHNSON: Really? That’s great!
HULICK: The station we have on at work plays it and a co-worker didn’t recognize who the Gin Blossoms were when she heard I was interviewing you, so when the song came on I told her that’s who you were and she said, “That’s the Gin Blossoms? I love that song!”
JOHNSON: (laughs) I’d rather her know the songs and not the name.
HULICK: You guys took about a four-year break and when you came back together I read that there was a “certain civility,” as expressed by one of the band members.
JOHNSON: When you’re young and you have some success and you get a little money in the bank, especially after being a struggling artist for so many years, you kind of get in your own head … you think it’s all about you. That ego takes over. So we took some time off to do different projects. We basically came together to do a reunion tour and it was so successful. We were shocked. We all started thinking how silly it was not to keep the band together because we all get along, we all like each other … we felt like brothers, like family.
HULICK: How do you like your music to be defined? I know that your sound has been described as “jangle pop.” What exactly is that?
JOHNSON: It’s also been described as “jangle crunch.” It’s when one guy plays the down and dirty distortion parts and then the other guitarist will like “jangle,” basically doing a more pop based sound … kind of like chiming guitars. The band The Byrds were known for it. Sometimes during a show in the middle of a song we’ll switch off and Jesse will do the chords and the rock rhythm and then I’ll do the “jangly bits.” That just came to be our thing.
HULICK: Some bands try and reinvent themselves when they come together after a break, but you guys are staying true to your original sound.
JOHNSON: It’s funny … I do interviews throughout the year and people always ask me if on our next record we are going to change the style of our music. My answer is always no. We’re not going to try and reinvent the wheel … we’re not going to put a reggae record out or anything. (laughs) I’m all about sticking to what you’re good at.
HULICK: As your albums have progressed through the years, I’m sure you can hear and feel some type of evolution that maybe you didn’t necessarily strive for but it happened … just through the years of experience.
JOHNSON: Yes, you’re right. We’ve tried to experiment with different kinds of grooves and a different feel to our songs, but we’ve never tried to reinvent ourselves. Some bands are good at that and that’s great, but we don’t have any plans to change it up that much.
HULICK: Are you working on any new projects?
JOHNSON: We’ve had a lot of success in films and television with our music, so we want to get together and write some songs to hopefully submit them for release through film and television. Then in the process we will have songs we can release on a new album. Although the days of doing 12 songs seem to be gone … it’s all different now. It’s like less is more. However some are releasing 12 plus song albums, like Bruno Mars. He’s a big success.
HULICK: What can we expect from your show?
JOHNSON: It’s usually pretty upbeat and energetic. Our singer, Robin, likes to get out there with the crowd. He’s one of those singers that don’t like staying behind the microphone. He has his tambourine and he wants people to play it and he high fives people. It’s a very up show.
HULICK: Great! Well it’s on the ski slopes outdoors so that is a perfect place for him to connect with the crowd and get them involved.
JOHNSON: Terrific! You promise it’s gonna be good weather right?
HULICK: (laughs) I will do everything I can to make sure that happens for you. The one thing you guys must do while you are here is get out and walk through the village of Ellicottville. It is so gorgeous … especially at night. Well, we are really looking forward to you coming and hopefully bringing the summer weather with you.
JOHNSON: Sounds good … and we’ll bring the weather with us.