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Wearing a three-day beard, a "DC Comics" T-shirt and what have to be the oldest, rattiest pair of Reeboks on the planet, Robin Wilson doesn't look like a big-time rock star. He looks more like a roadie.
But the lead singer of the Gin Blossoms doesn't act like a rock star either--which is amazing considering the impact his Arizona band has made on radio and MTV in the last year with their platinum album New Miserable Experience. "We're the most level-headed band in rock'n'roll," Wilson said.
Before the show he sat in the loud, smoky O'Leary's Bar and Grill in Dallas on Thursday before his band's performance, chain-smoking and occasionally filming those talking to him with a Sony hand-held video camera.
It's somehow eerie listening to Wilson talk and hearing Gin Blossoms songs being pumped over the speakers and Gin Blossoms videos playing on big-screen TVs. He mentioned that today is his 27-year-old brother's birthday. Wilson is just two years his senior. "I was going to get him one of those skateboard things with handle bars and a motor, you know?" he said. "But I figure he'd probably just want the money instead." Wilson looked tired nursing a beer, but managed to be funny and friendly to every autograph-seeking dork in the joint. He talked about a fight he had on the phone that morning with his girlfriend, who is the stage manager for the new Jon Stewart syndicated talk show. His band will play the show in another week and he said it will be the first time in a few weeks he has seen her.
Wilson grew up in Tempe, Ariz., and dropped out of college to go after rock stardom. He was a physics major, he said. "I'd like to get my degree before I'm 35," Wilson said. "I like to study volcanoes and clouds and mountains and stuff like that." Someone asks if he always wanted to be in rock'n'roll. "I was always thinking rock star," he said. "Remember the show 'Lost in Space'?" "I always wanted to be in that show. I had dreams about being on the show, except we were a rock band. I was the lead singer and the other cast members played backup," he said. Someone suggests that would make a good movie. "A pretty cheesy movie," he responds, laughing.
These days Wilson wakes up in amphitheaters. He said that while the rest of the band usually sleeps in a hotel, he chooses to sleep on the tour bus. He then spends the morning rollerblading inside whatever venue the Gin Blossoms are going to play before the chairs are set up. "I like speed. I like going fast," Wilson said.
Taking a break
After another 10 shows, the Gin Blossoms will take a much-needed break for six months, during which time they will work on a new album and enjoy the fruits of the past two years. "I just bought a jet ski," he said. When a fan asks for an autograph but has nothing for Wilson to sign, he suggests taking a poster down from the wall. When the fan offers to take the poster off the wall, Wilson objects. "Let me do it. No one will mess with me, I'm a rock star," he said. And also, despite his face being plastered all over the wall and his voice blaring through the stereo, Wilson seems, unexpectedly, just like a real person.
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