Gin Blossoms will bring the ’90s to the DeJoria Center
August 16, 2016
The 1990s was a good decade for the Gin Blossoms.
The Arizona-based band found itself on college and alternative radio stations across the country and garnered an audience on the other side of the world.
Catchy hits such as "Hey Jealousy," "Til I Heard It From You" and "Follow You Down" landed the band on the late-night TV circuit in addition to world tours and Grammy nominations.
Then in 1997, the band went on hiatus, which is a nice way of saying disbanded, according to guitarist Scott "Scotty" Johnson.
"Like all bands, we had that stupid moment and decided to break up," Johnson said during a telephone call from his home in Arizona. "Breaking up was a bad decision and it took us four years to realize. Once we got back together, we decided to be a real band and make another CD and tour every summer."
The band did the reunion thing in 2001 and put together a summer tour.
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"That's when we decided that this is our band and that the songs were our songs, so, why shouldn't we play?" Johnson said. "That was the catalyst, but we also realized that there was still an audience out there for us."
That's not to say there weren't some things that needed adjustment.
"There was some rebuilding," Johnson said. "When you leave things for that long, it was tough getting back into the game. I mean, when you stop, it's like shooting yourself in the foot, because things slow down naturally. But now things are working again."
Gin Blossoms — Johnson, bassist Bill Leen, guitarist Jesse Valenzuela, lead singer Robin Wilson and drummer Scott "Hess" Hessel — will show fans how well the band is doing when it plays the DeJoria Center on Friday, Aug. 19.
Although the band is working on a new album, the show will feature the band's classic '90s hits.
"I don't think we'll be playing any of the super new stuff we're working right now, because we're not ready," Johnson said with a laugh. "But we do have a pretty active set."
The performance is crowd oriented, he said.
"We're not the band that plays the song and then the stage goes dark and its dead silent until the next song when the lights go back on," he said with another laugh. "We're way more involved than that. Our singer Robin likes to pass the tambourine around and audience participation is always welcome and we're a friendly band.
"Sometimes Jesse and Robin will banter back and forth and that can be pretty funny at times," he added. "We don't want anybody falling asleep out there."
Johnson joined the band in 1992 and saw the band rise to success. It wasn't until a show in Salt Lake City that Johnson realized the band had made a mark on its fans.
"I remember our van pulling up to Club DV8 and seeing this huge crowd that was lined up and we thought there was something big going on," he said. "We asked the driver what was happening and she said 'They're here for you guys, you idiots.'
"That was the first sign because the radio picked up 'Hey Jealousy' in New Jersey in 1992 and the song moved west," Johnson said. "That was the first indication that something was going on, and it meant so much to us that our music meant something to people."
After the reunion show, the band realized how much their music still meant to their fans.
"To have an audience is paramount and to be able to book a show in [Kamas] and have people come," he said. "I also enjoy being part of the creative process, even with the songs that I didn't write."
Last year, Gin Blossoms were voted the Most '90s Band of All Time in a competition held by the entertainment website Uproxx.com.
"Isn't that crazy?" Johnson said with another laugh. "Our drummer is into social media way more than any of us. He kept telling us what was happening and would give us updates.
"He would tell us we're in the Top 10 and then in the Top 4 and then, sure enough," he said. "The crazy thing was that we weren't just up against guitar and rock bands. We were up against everyone — R&B acts like New Edition and the Seattle bands like Soundgarden."
That was the big shocker.
"I mean, where was Soundgarden [in the poll]?" Johnson said. "Back in the 1990s, we were always competing against the Seattle bands. They owned everything to the point where I remember when we were on our way for a tour in Europe and we thought we wouldn't see any of the grunge movement over there. But, sure enough, there was Soundgarden on the cover of every magazine."
These days when the band isn't playing at least 120 paid gigs a year or recording new music, it finds time to perform fundraisers.
"Our last gig was for a charity event of the Akron Children's Hospital in Ohio," Johnson said. "We don't do a lot, so I'm really proud when we get to do those sort of things. You get to be a part of people's lives and give back some.
"I have two kids, two girls who are older now, but we've been so blessed, that there is no reason why we can't help," he said. "We get so many offers that we can't do them all, but we do what we can. It's part of being a human — helping people out."
The DeJoria Center, 970 S.R. 32 in Kamas, will present the Gin Blossoms on Friday, Aug. 19, at 7:40 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $25 and they can be purchased by visiting http://www.smithstix.com. For more information, visit http://www.dejoriacenter.com.
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