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A version of this article originally was published in the Ogden (Utah) Standard-Examiner, April 30, 1993. Since then, the band has gone on to become one of the top acts in the country, with its new single a current Top 10 hit. The video that lead singer Robin Wilson refers to in the article is "Hey, Jealousy."
Robin Wilson, lead singer for the Gin Blossoms, is a sound bite machine, an interviewer’s dream and nightmare, all rolled up in one quick-talking, energetic subject. Every sentence he utters makes a memorable quote: “I did something stupid,” starts one of his bites. “I started a small riot in North Carolina.”
“I don’t really listen to much music when we’re on tour,” begins another. “It’s important for me to hang onto that sense of fascination (with music). It’s also because I don’t own a Walkman.”
“We have three traditions in this band: One, we always fold under pressure; two, we never get what we want; and three, there will always be a Christmas day show.”
The Gin Blossoms -- the name is from a caption taken from Kenneth Anger’s book Hollywood Babylon that described W.C. Fields’ bulbous red nose -- have been on tour constantly since before the release of their debut album on A&M Records, New Miserable Experience, last August. “The tour’s going okay,” Wilson said over the phone from Toledo, Ohio. “We just had a week off, but it wasn’t much of a vacation. It was just five days without playing a show. We went home (to Tempe, Ariz.) and we made a new video and then had to leave.” Back to the touring grind, which includes something Wilson is not too keen on -- free promotional shows in cafeterias at certain colleges.
“The cafeteria shows are sort of a drag,” he said. “You’re playing and looking at a bunch of tired college students eating. You’re just this background music. They get this half-ass, more sarcastic Gin Blossoms. But then that night, we’ll play a club and blow them away.”
The quintet made its public debut on Christmas day 1987. The musicians, thinking people would be tired of sitting around the house all day, speculated they could make some money by putting on a show that night. Wilson described the band’s genesis as “a typical scene in Tempe, a bunch of guys working in record stores, just a bunch of local hipsters” who got stuck together. The current leg of the tour [May 1993] is dubbed “The Salary Remains the Same” by the band and “Shut Up and Smoke” by A&M Records.
“That is just another example of the miscommunication that follows this band,” Wilson explained. “We told the record company we didn’t want that, that then we’d be That Cigarette Band, and then when we showed up for the first show, all of these posters were already printed up.” The band’s tour name is “our crack at the fact that we’re making the same money as we did as an opening act,” he continued. “We’re not making any money ... other people are making money but we’re not. We’re still in the van, still at the Econo-Lodge.”
For the shows at the end of the tour, the Gin Blossoms will pick up an opening act, The Odds, from Vancouver, Canada. Wilson, who says the Blossoms are fans of The Odds, finds this ironic because The Odds are managed by Chris Blake, who also manages Toad the Wet Sprocket and, incidentally, “kinda hates” Wilson.
While opening for Toad, the Blossoms were almost kicked off the tour by Blake, according to Wilson. Wilson said he did a couple of things to upset Toad’s crew. “I drank some of their Jagermeister without permission,” he said. “And I did something stupid. I started a small riot in North Carolina. I told people to jump the barricades and jump off the stage. Nobody got hurt, but Chris got pissed. He was all ready to kick us off the tour. The members of Toad are the only thing that kept us. We lost our backstage privileges for two weeks. “Now, the positions are slightly reversed.”
Consistently placed on critics’ top-10 lists for 1992, New Miserable Experience has placed the band on the verge of something, but Wilson doesn’t know what yet.
“We’re getting a lot of hype right now,” he said. “I’m very interested to watch what’s happening in the next couple months. We’ll have been out on tour for over a year then. Within the next couple of months, either something big is going to happen or we’ll kinda stop where we are. We haven’t blown our load yet.”
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