From ‘Allison Road’ to Seymour Street – Gin Blossoms to rock Montclair
With special guests Tonic and Vertical Horizon
Thursday, June 7 at 8 p.m., doors open at 7 p.m.
Wellmont Theater, 5 Seymour St.
By DEBORAH ANN TRIPOLDI
Popular ’90s rock group The Gin Blossoms are bringing new music to Montclair from a new album, “Mixed Reality.”
This is the first new album for the band since “No Chocolate Cake” eight years ago. The tour also celebrates the 25th anniversary of the band’s multi-platinum album “New Miserable Experience,” released in 1992. “Mixed Reality” will be released officially on June 15, with 15 original songs.
Vertical Horizon and Tonic will also perform with them at the Wellmont Theater next Thursday, June 7.
“The tour is about to kick off its going to be a blast,” said lead singer Robin Wilson in a phone interview from Arizona. The group consists of Wilson as lead on guitar, Scott Johnson on guitar, Bill Leen on bass and Jesse Valenzuela on vocals and guitar. “Personally between me and my band mates, I know we did something really special and it’s a great record. There are things we do now that a younger band wouldn’t know to do.”
Adding to the mix are producers Don Dixon and Mitch Easter. Dixon produced the Smithereens’ first two albums. Easter, the first three REM records. “Those records had a great deal of impact on the young Gin Blossoms. As a song writer I hacked into a younger version of myself,” said Wilson.
Wilson said the band’s new song “Mega Pawn King,” sounds like REM and Rolling Stones smashed together.
The rock band was on hiatus between the 1996 album “Congratulations I’m Sorry” and their 2006 record “Major Lodge Victory,” and members pursued individual careers. But the band does something together they can’t do apart, Wilson said. “We make a sound of the Gin Blossoms that’s ours. It’s nothing we calculated, it’s something that comes naturally to us. We don’t over think things.
“We come out as the traditional Gin Blossoms salad. It’s not uncommon to say we sound like a John Lennon song or a Stones song. We aren’t metallic rock band, not tons of heavy metal in our music. We are rock. I know our music appeals to people who like good country music.”
The band embraces the fact they are considered a ’90s group. “We were formed in late 1980s in wake of Smithereens and REM. I think of myself as an ’80s kid and ours took off in the ’90s; we are a part of that soundtrack. It’s cool to be identified in an era of time. The songs are part of people’s times and when they remember those days they remember our music. It’s great to have a legacy,” said Wilson.
The group has an emotional connection to its new song “Face to Dark,” he said.
“It’s the kind of song we would have wanted to do in 1990. It’s lyrically connected to original guitar player Doug Hopkins,” he said. Hopkins, the Gin Blossoms; co-founder, died in 1993.
Although the group is excited to be on tour again Wilson said traveling is difficult, “It can be quite a grind flying around every day. We’ll fly on Thursday and play on Friday and fly on Saturday. Flying sucks, when we get out on the bus, which we will do soon, [we’re] more rested and play better. Bus touring is superior,” he said.
When Wilson is not on tour he spends time relaxing in Arizona. “I spent a few nights on my boat; it’s so beautiful. I get to see my brother, eat tacos, work out in the gym and be at the lake,” he said.
The group has a few rituals before going on stage. “Pour myself a drink, bourbon or beer, and put on headphones and head back on stage,” he said.
Although the band debuted in the ’90s, its fans are all ages, Wilson said: “It never ceases to amaze me when I see 23 year olds rocking out and know our songs.”
Wilson said the new album cover, designed by Joseph Allen Black and pop art artist Mitch O’Connell, is his favorite of the band’s to date. “Mitch O’Connell, a well-rounded artist, designed tattoos for me and a T-shirt for us a few tours back.
“This one is the most elaborate covers I have ever done and most conceptual. It’s a fun and colorful album cover. It’s pretty rare when a band comes up with a special cover that is unique. To have a real concept and flesh it out with real artists is really cool. To give them an idea and watch them take it. It’s a rewarding process collaborating with them,” he said.
According to Wilson there won’t be another eight-year break between albums. They already have three songs ready to go for their next one.