For a band that has been across the United States and toured around the world, a chance to headline the fourth annual Founders Day event in Maricopa will be like coming home and playing next door.
The Tempe-based alternative group, who reached the peak of their popularity in the early '90s with a pair of million-plus-selling CDs, will light up the night at Pacana Park Oct. 13 as the event’s main headliner. The 90-minute show gets started at 6 p.m.
After a nearly five-year hiatus in which band members went their separate ways, the Gin Blossoms reunited in 2002 for what was originally intended to be a reunion tour, but drew such an interest from their fans that it led to the release of a new CD, Major Lodge Victory in 2006.
Guitarist Scott Johnson, who joined up with Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers – an Arizona-based, nationally-known country and rock 'n’ roll band – while the Blossoms were apart, said bringing the group back together has allowed members a new chance to make the music that was so synonymous with their band during the height of their fame.
“We didn’t feel we should re-invent the wheel,” Johnson said of the group’s new CD, which he noted will sound similar to fans of their earlier work. “It had been so long, it seemed like a good idea to do a straight Gin Blossoms album.”
Johnson and his fellow Blossoms began playing the Tempe bar scene in the late '80s and early '90s before rising to popularity and signing a major record deal to produce their first major album, New Miserable Experience, in 1992. Graduating from playing local bars, the group embarked on a number of cross-country tours.
Today, they play a mix of both smaller venues and big events, mixing in their old and new songs in a smooth flow of their alternative pop style – the band participated at the Blocktober music festival in Washington D.C. Oct. 6 as their last show before coming to Maricopa.
“There’s so much commotion (at Blocktober). You feel like you’re just one of the crowd. You just get up there, do the best you can for 45 minutes and then get the hell off the stage,” Johnson said, contrasting the difference in styles of the shows they are playing on their current tour. “It’s constantly changing. One week we are at RFK and the next we might be in a small club in Chattanooga in an intimate setting.”
The support of the fans, Johnson said, has been amazing and has allowed the group to continue strong – they are making preparations to head back to their studio in Memphis to begin recording their next album soon. Many of the groups they knew and played alongside in the early '90s haven’t enjoyed nearly the same staying power.
“I appreciate it more (now), but at the same time there are some of our friends from the '90s that don’t play at all anymore,” he said. “Playing in new venues is still exciting. I feel really fortunate to be there.”
Johnson said the band – which last played in their home-state in January at Tempe Beach Park – tries to draw the crowd in during shows in creative ways. Whereas during their first run, front man Robin Wilson would take Polaroids of the band during the show and toss them into the crowd, he has moved to a new tactic on the Blossoms current tour.
“There will be people up in front holding up their cell phones,” Johnson said of Wilson’s new routine of grabbing a cell phone in the crowd and crooning one of his songs long-distance. “I don’t know of anyone else doing that right now.”
For Johnson, who continues to write songs on his own and recently released his own self-titled album, said his decision to come back to the group he started with was an easy one.
“I was really proud of what we accomplished. I was proud of what we brought to the table musically with our own brand of rock 'n’ roll that had our brand of Western crunch and twang.”
To find out more about the band, or to hear a song off their new CD, visit www.ginblossoms.net.