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Gin Blossoms Bloom Again

New album will be first in seven years

The newly reunited Gin Blossoms are working on a comeback album
that they hope to finish this year. The band, which split in 1997
after two albums, is currently on a U.S. tour.

“We’ve got a handful of songs that we’re kicking around, and I
guess while we’re on the road we’ll find out how well they live and
breathe,” says guitarist Jesse Valenzuela.

The Tempe, Arizona-based group — also featuring vocalist Robin
Wilson, bassist Bill Leen, guitarist Scott Johnson and drummer
Scott Kusmarek (who takes over for Phillip Rhodes) — is undaunted
despite being without a record deal.

“With no label, I suppose making this album will fall back on us
in some way, but that’s fine with me,” says Valenzuela. “I’ve got a
million ideas. Robin and I haven’t begun collaborating yet, but
we’ll probably be opening that can of worms in the next few days,
doing a little hotel room work.”

John Hampton, the group’s longtime producer, has expressed
interest in recording the band again. “He basically said, ‘Whatever
you guys want to do, we’ll go ahead and take care of it,'”
Valenzuela says.

The band’s original rise to fame was bittersweet. Guitarist
Douglas Hopkins, who penned the band’s first two hits, “Hey
Jealousy” and “Found Out About You,” had been kicked out of the
Blossoms before they recorded their 1992 debut, New Miserable
, because of his ever-worsening bouts of depression
and alcoholism. On December 5, 1993 — as his songs were in heavy
rotation on rock radio stations across the country — he shot and
killed himself.

The album would go on to sell over four million copies, but the
Blossoms would have to pen their subsequent material without
Hopkins. They got off to an impressive start with “Til I Hear it
From You,” written by Valenzuela, Wilson and Marshall Crenshaw for
the Empire Records soundtrack. However, after the lukewarm
reception that greeted 1996’s aptly titled Congratulations . .
. I’m Sorry
, the band called it quits.

“Even though [Congratulations . . . I’m Sorry] was gold
and on its way to going platinum and we had just come off of a big
first record, I just don’t think that we ever got over losing
Doug,” Valenzuela says. “Robin was itching to try his own thing
without having to ask the permission of the rest of us, and that
coupled with the huge sadness of Doug’s death created internal
pressures that seemed too difficult to surmount.”

During their four years apart, Wilson formed the Gas Giants, who
got lost in the Polygram/Universal merger of 1998. They managed to
release an album, 2000’s From the Back Burner, but their
new label, Atomic Pop, went under soon afterwards. Wilson went on
to form another band, the Poppin Wheelies, and launched his own
label, Uranus Labs. Meanwhile, Valenzuela formed the Low/Watts, but
eventually moved to Los Angeles to concentrate on session work,
music production and songwriting.

The Gin Blossoms first regrouped for a millennial New Year’s Eve
show in Tempe, and, after a couple more shows in 2001, launched a
sixty-date U.S. tour last year. An expanded version of New
Miserable Experience
and a live DVD, Just South of
, were released last year.

The band will also be on the road for much of 2003. “There’s a
summer tour in the works,” Valenzuela says. “I’m sure we’ll be part
of some glorious Nineties rock package, but I guess there’s safety
in numbers.”


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