Gin Blossoms at Harris Center 10/18 - read our interview with Scotty Johnson.
● By Brenna McGowan
Formed in Tempe AZ in 1987, Gin Blossoms honed their chops playing the Tempe region and releasing their first LP, dusted in '89. Hard work and a few personnel changes later, the Blossoms broke out in '92 with the album New Miserable Experience and the hit "Hey Jealousy." It is one of the defining songs of the 90’s from one of the era’s defining bands. The Blossoms continue to tour and produce great music, and will be in Folsom at the Harris Center this coming Saturday night, the 18th.
I had the opportunity to talk with Scotty Johnson, Blossoms Lead guitar player since '92…
Gin Blossoms have been a very successful band and have withstood the test of time–how does it feel?
It feels good. I’ve seen a lot of bands come and go…over the years. The fact that we are still together–we’ve had the same four guys since 1992. We’ve figured out something, ya know. At least how to tolerate each other for a tour... I feel very, very fortunate that we’ve stuck together.
always hear how tough it can be out on the road. What pushes you?
I don’t know. That is a good question. I guess…it a labor of love kind of thing. I fell in love with guitar and playing music at a really young age. It’s that rush of walking out onto stage. It’s still so exciting, and then the fact that people know your material, that adds a lot to it too.
You started playing at a young age, what inspired you?My brother had a band. My parents were both musicians and I remember one of the first things that influenced me was my brother and his band practicing in the basement. We lived in Denver and I thought that was the coolest thing. I was just so inspired….when they would they’d take breaks I’d play their guitars and my brother would yell at me. I think that had a lot to do with it….I had an older brother in a band and I thought that was so cool.
How old were you when you started playing?I think I was 13. I played drums before that and I switched to guitar at about 12-13.
You guys have played a lot of big shows, do any of them stand out?
We did the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame when they finally opened the building. They did a big show at the old Cleveland baseball stadium, which is gone now. The place was full - around 60,000 people were there and there were all these stars there. I remember walking off the stage and there was Jackson Brown watching us play….it was pretty intense. I met so many people. We all had encounters with celebrities. Mine was Johnny Cash. I had opened this door and walked in and there was June fixing Johnny’s tie. They both just kind of turned around and looked at me and I said, “Oh, I’m in the wrong room.” I walked out thinking that was June Carter and Johnny! I’ll never forget that–that was awesome.
Great story! Are there any other bands that inspire you guys?
…The Replacements–they were a big influence. We all thought Paul Westerberg was an awesome songwriter and the band was really cool.
Was it planned that you guys would get back together and play again when you went on your hiatus?
It was definitely a split. I got a call out of the blue from Robin, our singer. He said he had been getting together with Bill our bass player and they had been writing songs and I remember thinking, “Well that’s cool and ?” He said we may try and demo some of these and wanted to know if I’d want to come down and bring my guitar–so I did. That is when Robin said he was thinking about getting the band back together–I was like, ‘Really?’ It had been almost four years.
Yeah, that is quite a long break.
Yeah it was a long break. We ended up doing a “reunion tour”–that is how it was booked. It went really great so we were like ‘Why don’t we keep going,’ and that’s basically what happened. It wasn’t some over thought process.
Why do you think the band has had so much success through the years?
I think it’s our songs. Some bands are into their looks and others are jam bands, our thing has always been our songwriting - songs have to be good. I think that is how we kept it going all these years.
What is your favorite song to play?
“Lost Horizons”…that is my favorite song to play.
You guys live kind of spread out. How does that work getting together to write songs and practice?
Yeah, we still have our practice place here that we’ve had for years and years. We have a little studio and everybody’s family is still here because we grew up here. We’ll get together here back in Tempe, Arizona to rehearse.
Do you guys ever get tired of playing the same songs?
No, not really. If anything it is easy cause I’ve played it a million times….it’s like muscle memory and when you jump into a favorite song it’s a rush that people like it and clap and are excited, ya know, That’s an exciting thing.
Any plans for 2015?
Were hoping to maybe get together to write some more…they are already talking about what is going happen next summer–who we may be touring with.
Your advice to a band trying to make it out there?
I think you have to look at music like it is a lifelong thing. I think a lot of bands get discouraged that they don’t have a record deal by the time they are 25. I didn’t sign my first record deal ‘til I was almost 30. I think you have to look at music like that-it has to be a lifelong thing…you just have to play music because you love it.
Ok, one last thing–I read somewhere that you are a tea-cup collector?
Well (laughs) no, not really. I bought a few in Mississippi one time. I think Jesse found a way to get the idea that I’m a “collector” into my bio!
You can catch the Gin Blossoms at the Harris Center on October 18, at 8 p.m. For tickets visit harriscenter.com.
info on the Gin Blossoms and their tour visit ginblossoms.net.
Post written by Cait
Herrera. Picture courtesy of the Gin Blossoms.