What the Toll Tells
The backstory: On October 13, 2006, Two Gallants and opening act Trainwreck Riders were performing at Walter's on Washington when police officer G.M. Rodriguez entered the club to investigate a noise complaint. Accounts vary of what, exactly, happened next, but Rodriguez ended up on stage, demanding that the band stop playing. A fight broke out, and Rodriguez shot several people with a Taser gun, including Two Gallants frontman Adam Stephens. In the melee, Vogel and Trainwreck Riders' Andrew Kerwin and bassist Sean Kohler were arrested. Vogel was charged with a misdemeanor for "interfering with a public servant."
Thanks to video footage of the event and a sensible District Attorney, the charges against Vogel were finally dropped just a couple weeks ago. The Gallants are ready to move on, and have already recorded a new EP, the acoustic The Scenery of Farewell, which will be released June 19 on Saddle Creek. A new full-length is in the works for September, and the duo will open for Primus bassist Les Claypool on tour this summer.
We chatted with Vogel about the circumstances of his charges being dropped, as well as Two Gallants' future plans.
Pitchfork: You live in San Francisco, but you were charged in Houston. Did you have to fly back and forth a lot to deal with this?
Tyson Vogel: Eventually we were able to work it out that we didn't have to be there. There were five [court appearances] in all, and the first two I had to go to. My lawyer had had enough, and he was able to make it so I didn't have to come to Houston, which was a big relief, because it's actually very expensive to go there just for one trip. So pretty much it just took some patience, in the end.
P: Right after the incident, video appeared on the internet of the police officer basically attacking you guys on stage. It was that video that eventually got you off the hook, right?
TV: I feel quite lucky that it was thrown out, but I think it has to do mostly with this new D.A. that they've put in. The last one was seemingly trying to make it quite hard for the case to be actually fully confronted. Right now, this last court appearance, which it turned out I didn't have to go to, I had asked the D.A. to look at the actual footage that had been taken of the situation, and they actually looked at it, and said that there was no case.
P: The first D.A. assigned to the case just wouldn't watch it?
TV: Well, that's the thing that I'm a little confused with as well. Either he said he watched it, or just didn't really make a decision about it. If he did watch the footage,he didn't actually fully have an opinion on it, which was kind of frightening. He also kept dragging it out in these court appearances, which in the end came out to be just like a roll-call, which was a bit frustrating at times. Spend a lot of money to get there, and dress up in a nice suit, and show up to be called, and it was just like "you are here" and that's all that matters, pretty much. Which is a big part of it, but it seemed like a waste of time, kind of bureaucratic in some ways. I mean, it's really a fascinating process. I've never been put in that situation before or been confronted by it that way. It's incredible to think that the city of Houston, in the state that it is now, you know, after Hurricane Katrina and the history they've had, that a seemingly easy case would take so long to be finished like that. With all the other serious things that are going on down there.
P: What happened to the Trainwreck Riders members who were also arrested?
TV: When Sean and Andrew went and settled, they got these Class C misdemeanors, which don't stay on your record, I guess. They had to pay a fine, and I think possibly even write an apology about their misconduct. Both Andrew and Sean, I don't think either of them would've stuck with the same path that I stuck with. They didn't have the time or the economic status to actually do it, you know. It's almost $500, just for a plane flight to Houston and back, on top of lawyers' fees, on top of places to stay. It's interesting to see really how much goes into fighting any sort of small offense of the state.
P: The big question now is are you guys going to press charges against or do anything about the police officer that started this whole thing?
TV: In some ways I wish that we could, and I feel sort of defeated in that sense. I mean, it's great that I don't have to go back and I don't have anything on my record or anything like that, but it seems somewhat wrong just to let it go. The thing is that with the state of my life at the moment, too, on top of the actual money that it would take to do something like that, I just can't do it. But also I don't think, if there was a proper case to build behind actually bringing something back to the police, I don't know if there is proper evidence or anything, you know? It's all speculation. There's no bruises, there's no pictures, there's just accounts, eye-witness accounts. I don't know, I wish that that were enough, but I feel like that would, again, take months. It's so frustrating, you know?
P: Do you plan to play in Houston again?
P: Will you play the same venue?
TV: Definitely. [laughs]
TV: We already somewhat had plains so that if I had to go back to trial that we would set up a show around the trial, at Walter's. The venue itself did nothing wrong; they were all very kind and helpful in the process. It really was just an unfortunate coincidence that it happened at that venue specifically. I mean, we've played in Houston three or four times, and the first two times we played across the street from Walter's. Both times there were really heavy, hardcore shows going on, but those kinds of shows weren't getting broken up for noise complaints. But our little band with two people...the bass was too loud. Really strange.
P: Your next release is an acoustic EP. Was that in any way inspired by the fact that you guys were apparently rocking too hard in Houston?
TV: [laughs] No. Maybe sort of unconsciously, but not at all. This EP that's coming out, we actually recorded it thinking that it would be a full album, with eight songs, almost over an hour long. But some of the songs didn't come out the way that we intended them to come out, so we kept it short and sweet. Our acoustic songs can be somewhat brooding, and we didn't want to be too abrasive upon people. These are songs that we wrote in the sort of womb of our existence as a band. From four years ago up to this year. Sort of like a collection of songs that don't really belong anywhere on albums, but they sort of demand existence. They're different, and they're acoustic, and we had friends come and play with us and collaborate on the songs because they're not really appropriate, I think, on just our drums and guitar. These songs kind of demanded fleshing out.
P: And you're planning on putting out an album in the fall?
TV: Yeah, originally we had this idea of doing two albums in four months. But the next album will, if all goes well, come out in September, and it'll be our next full-length album. It'll be a little bit more back to what we know and what everyone else knows as who we are. Just the interaction between Adam and I, and the songs that we've been writing on tour. Now that we've been home for a little while we've been able to actually work on it. It's been too long since we've been home. You know, we've been gone for almost two years, and it's a nice little respite.
P: You're touring with Les Claypool this summer. How did that come about?
TV: I don't know, I'm not exactly sure. Just by coincidence. I ran into him at Noisepop, and he was talking to my manager. We sort of caught up and talked for a while. He's a very kind and grounded man, and both of us are really honored about being asked to go. I really do respect his outlook upon music. When I ran into him at this opening party we spoke about this sort of existential idea about how one is able to follow their inclination in life, I guess, or their path, and how to stay happy.
The Scenery of Farewell tracklist:
01 Seems Like Home to Me
03 Up the Country
04 All Your Faithless Loyalties
05 Linger On
Two Gallants dates:
05-12 Brussels, Belgium - Nuits Botanique Festival
05-15 Berlin, Germany - Postbahnhof
05-16 Haldern, Germany - Gasthof Tepferdt
05-18 London, England - Spitz
05-19 Somerset, England - Butlins Minehead (ATP vs. the Fans)
05-20 Paris, France - L'Europeen
05-22 Vienna, Austria - WUK
05-23 Geneva, Switzerland - Alhambra
05-26 George, WA - The Gorge (Sasquatch Festival)
05-29 Cleveland, OH - House of Blues *
05-30 Cincinnati, OH - Bogart's *
06-01 Boston, MA - The Roxy *
06-02 New York, NY - Nokia Theatre *
06-03 Philadelphia, PA - Electric Factory *
06-05 Baltimore, MD - Rams Head Live *
06-06 Asheville, NC - The Orange Peel *
06-08 St. Louis, MO - The Pageant *
06-12 Indianapolis, IN - Vogue Theater *
06-13 Atlanta, GA - Variety Playhouse *
06-15 St. Petersburg, FL - Jannus Landing *
06-16 Lake Buena Vista, FL - House of Blues *
06-17 New Orleans, LA - House of Blues *
06-19 Austin, TX - Stubb's *
06-20 Dallas, TX - House of Blues *
06-22 Denver, CO - Ogden Theatre *
06-23 Salt Lake City, UT - The Depot *
06-25 Tempe, AZ - Marquee Theatre *
06-26 San Diego, CA - 4th and B *
06-27 Los Angeles, CA - Henry Fonda Theatre *
06-29 San Francisco, CA - The Warfield *
06-30 Eugene, OR - McDonald Theatre *
07-02 Portland, OR - Roseland Theatre *
07-03 Seattle, WA - The Showbox *
* with Les Claypool
LP / CD / MP3
LP / CD / MP3