Two Views Of The Gin Blossoms
by Richard Ruelas
Scott Johnson Blooms As New Member

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"29" is a slow rocker with lyrics which explore growing into adulthood.

 Not exactly a song that would get a mosh pit worked up into a frenzy.

 But Scott Johnson, new guitarist for the Gin Blossoms, said that's exactly what happened during their current tour.

 "We all walked off the stage and were going, 'what the hell,' you know? It was so bizarre because since I've been in the band, and even long before, those guys had never seen that happen," said Johnson, formerly with The Feedbags.

 "It was just amazing, we couldn't believe it," he said, adding that the crowd moshed to the whole set, "and stage-diving too. I couldn't believe it."

 Headliners Toad the Wet Sprocket didn't inspire the audience to indulge in the physical-contact dancing known as moshing and at first neither did the Blossoms.

 "It started just like a couple of people and by the end of the set there was a huge crowd," Johnson said.

 The band has been on the road for about three weeks now, climbing into their brand-new, 1992 van, armed with a Super Nintendo GameBoy.

 "The label's just basically told us, 'Plan on being out through May,' " he said.

 After touring with Toad, the band links up with Del Amitri and then sets out again at the beginning of the year supporting another band, yet to be determined.

 But before all that, the Blossoms have to get their van fixed.

 Johnson said the van has broken down twice so far, including the day he spoke to Where It's Hot! from a pay phone outside of New Haven, Connecticut.

 "We were leaving Memphis and it stalled. Luckily, we were just down the block from the hotel, and we took it in and the dealership said that somebody poured sugar in our tank if you can believe that," Johnson said. "And so $1,000 later and a week later, the pump's messing up again."

 The tour is the second national tour for the rest of the band, but for newcomer Johnson, this is his first trek across the country with a band...

 "It's kind of like the best and the worst," he said. "Playing is great, I mean that's why we're here, that's what we do. When you get to the gig, and you do the sound check and get ready for the show, that's fine, but just sitting around in the van all day...just sitting in a hotel room watching Gilligan's Island, that's not the most exciting thing in the world. It's hard to explain that feeling of just sitting around all day waiting to play."

 The road is an easier place to be when the shows go as well as Johnson reports. "The response has been great. Nobody knows who were are when we get on stage, but when we're done, I think we've won some people over definitely.

 "I was a little concerned [because] it is Toad's crowd, I mean let's not fool anybody, it's their tour, but I guess that's the whole idea of being a supporting act is you've got to make every show count and hope that you win some people over."

 Strong support from their label is also a big boost.

 "A&M has been so supportive," Johnson said. "There's posters at every show and there's always somebody from the label there. They're taking us to radio and we're doing a lot of phoner things, interviews. A&M is behind us 100 percent and it's really cool."

 "Hey Jealousy" is usually the only Doug Hopkins-penned song the group does each night. When Hopkins left, half of the band's catalog left with him. But new songs are in the works, even on the road.

 "Jesse and I have been sitting around and writing," Johnson said, adding that those writing sessions are taking place on the group's only day off.

 "Nothing's panned out, but yeah, we're trying."

 When the Blossoms hit home for a few weeks in December, more intensive sessions will begin.

 "Robin, Jesse and I--we're gonna sit down and bash things out, because I think January 1, we're hitting the road again for another four months."

 The Blossoms have written songs since the departure of Hopkins, including "Undone," written by Wilson, and "Elizabeth Ann" and "Weeds," both Wilson-and-Valenzuela tunes.

 "We got a couple which will probably be on the next record, now it's just getting the next seven," he said laughing.

 This album, New Miserable Experience, is selling extremely well in Phoenix, and is starting to pick up around the country, especially after the Blossoms play through. Fans are being won over at each show, Johnson said.

 "It's pretty much like they don't know who we are when we get on stage, but when we get done it's always really great. The crowds have been really responsive."

 The band has been pitching their T-shirts at each stop, but "we haven't recouped our ass yet," said Johnson, referring to the name of the tour, Recoup My Ass, which appears on the shirt.

 "We need to sell like 120 to actually start making money on them and we're not quite there yet."

 Those who did not buy a shirt will probably be kicking themselves after the Blossoms' video hits MTV. The video for "Hey Jealousy" is already booked on 120 Minutes.

 "I still haven't seen it yet, but Robin said that he liked it and he's his own worst critic," Johnson said.

 The video was shot in a studio by Jim Gueirnot.

 "He works artist development at A&M, but he also manages Social Distortion and he directed those last two videos that they did," Johnson said.

 The band originally tried to shoot the video in their practice room, which is a warehouse in Tempe, but the results were not what they hoped.

 "[Gueirnot] saw the video we made and he basically said it sucked," Johnson said.

 "The label didn't like it and we didn't like it so Jim was like, 'Hey, I'll just direct your video. It'll be real basic, but I can do it.' "

 The single is also getting heavy rotation on KUPD, KUKQ and KZON locally. Johnson said "the airplay makes a big difference" in exposure.

 When the Blossoms hit town again in December, they plan to play at least two shows--"the first week in December and then our anniversary show on Christmas."

 But the band is not sure where they would play since their last show at a club sold out and a waiting line formed outside the club.

 "We're not sure if it's gonna be Club Rio or Hayden Square or what," he said.

 "Obviously, when Chuy's has to close their doors at 10 o'clock, you know there's a problem."

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