Reviews

What the Toll Tells

Author: Alanna Lee
03/01/2006 | Zero Magazine | www.zeromag.com | Feature
Several days before leaving on tour to Europe in the middle of February, Tyson Vogel, one half and drummer of the Two Gallants, was resting at his parent's house in San Francisco and talking about what makes the Two Gallants more than a James Joyce novel. The two young men grew up and still call San Francisco home but play music infused with old fashioned blues that caught the attention of the well known indie label, Saddle Creek. Drawing influences from genres far and wide, the Two Gallants released their second album, What the Toll Tells, at the end of February.

The next three months will be filled with touring for the Two Gallants after a month's rest in San Francisco, the boy's home town. "We go for 5 weeks to Europe, we come back and do SXSW, and then another national tour after that." Like any band, they weren't always on such a tight schedule, in fact, these guys still like to play as many house parties and street corners as they can fit in. According to Vogel, there was even a time when bathrooms were a venue to perform in! Rewind even further and we see that Vogel and his childhood friend and band mate Adam Stephens (guitar/vocals/harmonica) have always been on the track to being noticed for their music.

"Adam and I have known each other since we were 5 and went to the same school. We were both introduced, at the time to a lot of Guns N' Roses, the whole late 80's metal scene and then Nirvana came around and music changed up a little bit. We're both followers of music for a long time, started playing instruments at 9 or 10 and started playing music together when we were 11 or so." Their musical relationship continued in a casual manner. "We had a band in 8th grade. We played the school dance. It had a bunch of different names; I don't think we ever sat on one for that long. One was called Jat, and Renuim." From there, Stephens and Vogel did their separate projects but still played together whenever they could.

"Adam for a long time was kind of playing his own music solo around the city, playing a lot of open mics and acoustic things. I played in a band for a little while of supposedly screamo music. After that we started playing in my basement which is how the band came about."

"Two Gallants started organically [in 2002] because we were in the same city and wanted to play music together. And it just kind of grew from there," after the boys "both had sort of had our hand at a little bit of college." Luckily the pair was already on the same page as far as musical interests and influences were concerned. They grew up on a concoction of 80's rock and Nirvana. Bay Area bands were also forces says Vogel, "Really into punk, Operation Ivy, there was a local band called Hickey that was around for a while." But it wasn't necessarily what the bands were playing, but how they were playing it. "It's more of the idea of the feeling, emotion, and expression behind it. It's come from a combination of that and a listening to a lot of older kinds of music. Older country, country blues."

Two San Franciscans stumbled upon the old country blues and took to it immediately. They now use the emotion they find in that music and put their own into the music they are making. "I think the most important thing is the emotion, the honesty, and the heart is in it.
Without being too cliché, we both take a lot from this band, it means a lot to both of us playing on many levels."

The Throes was the first album made by the Two Gallants and they've stepped it up for their second album, What the Toll Tells. "I think musically and song writing-wise and through production, I think the whole thing is a growth hopefully. It feels that way to us at least." The first album was a little bit too rushed for the laid back attitudes of the guys, but they were able to do their second one right. "With this album we were given a little more leeway to take some more time and really get our hands in it. We did it all on tape whereas The Throes was onto computer. We really got to get down to the little things and make sure that the visions and the things we heard in our head were represented on tape and in this album. I feel much closer, and I think Adam does too, to this album. Not only because of the production but we had enough time to make sure everything was as right as it could be."

Everything seems to be working out just right for the Two Gallants as they are happy with their new album and happy with their label. Everything is matching up. "It's very humbling to be a part of it all. It's kind of cool the history of Saddle Creek being so similarly grass roots-ish. That label was just pretty much started among friends to support each other playing music. It's neat that they took us in because having that perspective in music has always been very important to us. We started out and still try to play as many house parties. Music is for music's sake, and that's really what that label represents. They're getting bigger but it's still all about the music and not anything else. That's very refreshing to be around."

The Two Gallants might actually be from The City in the Bay Area, but it would be easy enough to mistake them for country boys as they travel on in their adventures. "I would say it's more of the journey than the destination. Even with how the band started, we never really set out to start a band or to do this or do that, it's just kind of what feels natural to us in the moment, and I think that's all we can say for ourselves."
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