Gasoline Lollipops Release New CD on Valentine’s Day
Colorado’s Gasoline Lollipops are on the rise. The tenacious Boulder-based group grafts inspired alt-folk songwriting to the rootsy sounds of country, rockabilly and bluegrass. Led by singer-songwriter Clay Rose, the band has won several local awards and opened for acts including Junior Brown, The Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Robert Earl Keen and Todd Snider & The Hard Working Americans.
The GasPops have traveled to Austin to play at SXSW; won the Denver Westword’s 2016 award for Best Country Artist; were voted Boulder’s Best Band in 2014 and 2015 in a poll by the Colorado Daily; were selected as one of only half a dozen bands in Colorado for the SpokesBUZZ Emerging Artists Incubator Program; and won the Oskar Blues Battle of the Bands in 2015.
The group is primed to celebrate the release of its new CD, Resurrection, at Boulder’s Fox Theatre on Valentine’s Day.
TipJar recently caught up with frontman Clay Rose and drummer Adam Perry to discuss the state of the band and what lies ahead . . .
TipJar: How long have the GasPops been around now?
Clay Rose: Believe it or not, that’s a difficult question. Thirteen years, eight years, or four years, depending on how you define the band.
Any recent changes in the personnel of the GasPops?
CR: Most recent was the addition of Adam Perry on drums last February.
Does your fanbase seem to be growing?
CR: Most definitely. And it seems to be doing so, with the utmost quality of character. We are truly blessed.
Adam Perry: The most hardcore, loyal Gasoline Lollipops fans have always been hearty, friendly Colorado mountain-town people from places like Gold Hill, Nederland and Ward. They’re amazing, dedicated and such an honor to get to know. Lately we’ve been branching out to Denver and Boulder more, and getting a lot of new fans from getting played often on the Colorado Sound and other stations, and playing festivals. The new album should hopefully spread the GasPops gospel much farther.
What are your biggest influences?
CR: Love and fear.
What do GP fans seem to like about the group?
CR: It’s depth — musically, rhythmically, lyrically. You can dance to it, sing to it, or cry to it, all at the same time!
AP: Firstly they like Clay’s songs and his voice. But people seem to also like how all the band members have such different backgrounds, musically and culturally, and how that comes together. I grew up playing clubs in the Pittsburgh punk scene as a teenager, and then played psychedelic and indie-rock music in San Francisco; [bassist] Brad [Morse] has a jazz background and could not be a nicer, more talented kid; [guitarist] Donny [Ambory] has a deep understanding of country, jazz and classic rock; [GasPops and Gregory Alan Isakov fiddle player] Jeb [Bows] and Clay both grew up mostly in the Front Range and understand punk music as well as gritty country and singer-songwriter stuff; and Alexandra Schwan, who sings with us often, brings really soulful energy in general.
Has the sound of the band changed at all since it began?
AP: Clay can better answer that but, yes, I think the GasPops have moved from a rougher psychobilly start to down-home country to what we are now, which I’d describe as alt-country with a punk edge and, as always, a focus on Clay’s songwriting, which is darkly poetic in the vein of Leonard Cohen and Townes Van Zandt.
CR: New sounds are added all the time. Sometimes old sounds are lost, but mainly we just add. It’s become quite a collage of sounds and styles over the years. I’d be hard pressed to think of a genre that hasn’t had its influence on us at one time or another.
How did the recording of your new CD go . . . any fun stories? Where did you record?
CR: For me, recording an album is like childbirth. Have you ever heard any fun stories about childbirth? I’ve heard the epidural is fun for some folks, but they don’t give epidurals in the studio; just cold coffee and stale doughnuts. But I digress. It was actually a lot of fun. We recorded at our guitarist Don Ambory’s studio, Hive Recordings, as well as our producer, John McVey’s studio, Cinder Sound Studio. My friend, JD and I, were actually building both those studios, while we were recording the album. It’s been a labor of love. Much like childbirth.
AP: One thing I love about the new album is Brad’s bass sound – he was loaned a stand-up bass from the late 1800’s and it just sounded fantastic. He was able to get it sounding classy and old-timey but also get some truly haunting shit going during “Resurrection,” which is the title track. It was also rewarding recording with producer John McVey, who has worked with Shawn Colvin and others. We got great big, classic drum sounds out of an old Tama kit and my vintage Ludwig snare, but most importantly he had honest, intelligent arrangement ideas and a great way of criticizing that garnered enthusiasm.
You seem to combine a few genres in your sound, is there any one particularly prominent influence?
AP: I really don’t think there is one band or one artist you can point to when first hearing Gasoline Lollipops, and that’s a good thing. It’s like the Power Rangers in a way, when we’re at our best and everyone’s disparate influences – from NOFX to Johnny Cash to jazz – gel.
How much of your live repertoire is original vs. how much is cover material?
AP: We play some fucking long shows – over three hours of music sometimes – so there are some fun covers, like “Sixteen Tons” and Tom Waits and Howlin’ Wolf. But Clay has written so many songs we can’t even keep up when it comes to learning them, so that’s mostly who we are, a band trying to deliver the songs of Clay Rose with the best energy and execution we can.
How do you approach this band vs how you played in other bands?
AP: I’m just trying to focus on making the song sound good rather than make myself sound good, and I hope I succeed more often than not. But Jeb said something recently after a good show in Louisville that really hit me: “This band plays its best when we’re all fans of each other.” I’m always a fan of Clay’s songs, but during some of the peak Gasoline Lollipops moments, especially when Jeb is with us, I think there’s an energy where we’re all listening to each other and excited about it. That’s different from other bands I’ve been in, where we were all serving the song or – with the worst kind of improvisational music – all serving ourselves. Serving the song while really enjoying each other is a hell of a lot of fun.
What lies ahead for the group in 2017?
AP: I’m really excited about playing the Fox Theatre for the first time, on Valentine’s Day. Releasing the record at that show, in front of the people who supported us the most, should be really special, and hopefully something substantial to grow on. Local radio has supported us so much lately, playing the single a ton, and I hope that grows like wildfire around the country and we get on the road more in 2017.
CR: The future is wide open!
“Love is Free,” from the band’s upcoming Resurrection album,
Tickets are still available for the CD-release shows at the Fox Theatre in Boulder (Valentine’s Day, Tuesday, 2/14) and Hodi’s Half Note in Fort Collins (Friday, 2/10).
Upcoming Gasoline Lollipops gigs:
Saturday, 1/21 (Dive Bar, Belize)
Sunday, 1/22 (Dive Bar, Belize)
Friday, 2/10 (Hodi’s, Fort Collins)
Tuesday, 2/14 (Fox Theatre, Boulder)
Saturday, 5/6 (Oskar Blues, Lyons) with Slim Cessna