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Epidemic of Gin Blossoms 'fever' hits Valley

Jennifer Yee

Arizona State Press, February 17, 1989

Arizona has a severe case of the Gin Blossoms.

Not a terminal case like W.C. Fields contracted from ingesting too much sugar, but a local epidemic that is affecting hundreds each week.

"Gin blossoms is a sugar disease that people get when they ingest too much sugar and the capillaries in their nose blow up," said Robin Wilson, lead singer of the Arizona band the Gin Blossoms. "That's why his nose was all red and puffy."

Fortunately for all of us, the epidemic I'm talking about is the band with the same name as the disease. Comprised of five the most laid-back, unorganized, unmotivated musicians around, this basic pop band packs houses every week. Their sound has been compared to that of the fold rock band, REM--a comparison that the band despises.

"We don't sound like REM," argued Doug Hopkins, the opinionated, outspoken lead guitarist for the band. "More like the Replacements or the Smithereens."

Other influences that popped up during the interview were Cheap Trick and the Beatles. All pointing the finger toward a sound best described by Doug as, "Simplicity. Real simple, driving, propulsive pop music."

Simple is right. A playlist from a typical Gin Blossoms show includes a handful of pop ballad originals, along with covers of the "Theme from the Jeffersons," "Sugar Sugar," a Thin Lizzy medley, "Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road" and any Brady Bunch hit you can think of. While you wouldn't think that a crowd of college-goers would really like dancing to the sitcom theme songs, it's when these timeless covers are played that the dance floor is most crowded.

"We transfer fun that we have onstage to the audience," said drummer Phillip Rhodes.

Of all their originals, probably the favorite of the band's and the audience is "Found Out About You." The Gin Blossoms are noticeably proud of that song--almost amazed that it came out of their collaborations.

"It's a melodic, nearly perfect pop song," said Wilson. "It's beyond us. We're almost not worthy of doing it."

Their fans will tell you differently and hopefully soon a record company will, too. Currently, the band is in and out of the studio, recording demos for interested record labels. Though they claim not to be worried about it, each member of the group sees their future including more local shows, and a potential contract.

And why not? For a group of totally unprofessional yet talented musicians who can do a cover of "If I Only Had A Brain" that anyone can dance to, they're a hit. So much of a hit that during a recent show at Long Wongs in Tempe, the fire marshal came in and closed the place down because the building was far over its seating capacity.

I wasn't kidding when I said we had an epidemic of Gin Blossoms in town. They're a band that plays fun pop and dance music that doesn't offend anyone. Truth is, it's hard to offend people with a rendition of the Brady Bunch. On any given night, you can expect a packed house and an earful of pop music that you can't help but become infected with.