Reviews

Skatemental.com

Author: anabelsuicide
09/27/2005 | Skatemental.com | www.skatemental.com | Feature
Native San Franciscans Two Gallants have signed with Saddle Creek records, and their debut album The Throes (released on Alive Records just last year) got rave reviews from pretty much everybody. They even charmed hardened New Yorkers like a breath of west coast fresh air at the recent CMJ fest. Not an easy task during the over-booked, too hectic, schizo-like marathon music festival...To borrow a line from VICE, we'll describe them as "Two good-looking dudes from San Francisco that sound exactly like backwoods-ugly dudes from Nebraska (in the best possible way)." BM caught up with guitarist and singer Adam Stepehens to chat about the meaning of the word punk, kids in the UK, what it was like to sit in Sinatra's old dressing room in Reno and why they named their band after a story by James Joyce.

BM: Band line up?

Adam Stephens: Well, Tyson (Vogel) is the first string drummer and I am the first string guitarist. We play music.

BM: How long have you guys been playing together? Are you both originally from San Francisco?

AS: We have played music together off and on since we were about 11. We were much better back then. Yeah, we were both born in SF and met in kindergarten.

BM: "Two Gallants" is a short story by James Joyce about two young men, petty robbery and prostitution. How did you guys come to choose this as your band name?

AS: We both hapenned to be reading The Dubliners at the same time when we started the two piece thing. Basically, we were just making noise in Tyson's parents' garage and someone invited us to play a street show at the 16th St. BART station, so we had to start calling ourselves something. It seemed obvious at the time. I often think that the decision was made a little too hastily. People never really seem to understand our name, let alone pronounce it. But regardless, its pretty clear to both of us the similirities between ours and
Corley and Lenehan's. Sadly, I must confess that I am usually the one taking up all of the room on the sidewalk, telling tall tales and pursuing vague tricks.

BM: Your record label calls your music an "infusion of bloody-knuckled punk energy to storytelling epics and tear-in-your-beer honky-tonk." Do you consider yourselves storytellers? Are you as gallant as the name suggests?

AS: The name is somewhat facetious in that sense, as though we were actually the saviours of womankind from millennia of oppression. I don't really understand the place of the word honky-tonk in any kind of present day context. There are no more honky-tonks these days. The death of country happened long ago - pretty much before we were even born. But I suppose the sentiment is kind of true for us in some ways. There is a bit of drinking in our songs, at least the songs on our first record. Now I just write songs about muscle relaxers and pedophilia. As for the punk thing, well we are not a punk band but we accept what that word has come to mean. These days it is thrown around all the time to try and define music with some aggression to it. Sometimes we are aggressive. Sometimes we are passive.

BM: You recently finished a tour of England. How did that go?

AS: It went well. We didn't really consider it a tour. We hardly traveled. It was a few shows in London and festivals in Reading and Leeds. They all went really well. Folks over there don't seem to have that attention disorder that most American kids suffer from. At the festivals kids were very attentive and appreciative. It was a warm welcome.

BM: After playing CMJ in NYC you're undertaking a west coast tour, then what? Any plans to tour the east coast?

AS: Right now we are on tour with our friends from the northwest, Holy Ghost Revival. Just the western half of the states. We won't be back to the east coast probably until the winter time.

BM: Besides being Two Gallants, are either of you skateboarders?

AS: I used to skate a lot when I was in high school. Lost a little too much blood. These days I dont really get around to it.

BM: Can tell us how (if at all) skateboarding has affected your view of music or acted as an inspiration to
you....?

AS: I do get pretty nostalgic about hot summer days spent skating all afternoon. There was something very carefree about it. I never skated with too much ambition, though. It was just transportation and stoned enternainment. Now I am too
worried about failure and irrelevant stresses imposed upon me by the threat of old age. I just spend every day playing music and suffering from gravity.

BM: You were asked to be a part of Believer Magazine's 2005 compilation of cover songs CD with the likes of The Decemberists, The Shins and Spoon. You chose to cover "Anna's Sweater" a song originally recorded by SF band Blear. Why did you choose this song and whatever happened to Blear?

AS: Blear was an amazing young band in San Francisco that was around about 15 years ago. I didn't really know of them while they were actually playing because I was too busy being ten years old. But one of my best friends lived down the block from them and eventually one of their demos ended up in our rotation. It had about five songs on it; every one of them brilliant and they were only 16 years old. The original version of that song is raw, electric, uninhibited. Ours pales in comparison.

BM: What was it like opening for Modest Mouse?

AS: It was odd. We played the Reno Hilton with them. As in a casino in the high desert where Sinatra used to perform. We actually stayed in Sinatra's personal backstage room that they built for him specifically because of some superstition he had about entering from stage right. Everyone in the back
sat in booths. Modest Mouse were all real nice except the dude. He was too busy gambling while we played and missed our set but all the other guys were very kind and respectful.

BM: When can we expect your new release on Saddle Creek?

AS: It should be coming out in late January. We are a little behind schedule on all of it but that's the goal.