Gin Blossoms were formed in 1987 in Tempe, AZ, by lead guitarist/songwriter Doug Hopkins, Bill Leen and then-lead vocalist Jesse Valenzuela, (who eventually relinquished the lead vocal position to Robin Wilson before signing to A&M Records) taking their name from a photo of W.C. Fields in Kenneth Anger’s legendary Hollywood Babylon book, which depicted him “with gin blossoms,” referring to his rosacea-ravaged face. A southwest contemporary of bands like the Sidewinders, Meat Puppets, the Refreshments and Dead Hot Workshop. Gin Blossoms’ first full-length studio album, New Miserable Experience, came out on August 4, 1992, on A&M Records, followed four years later by Congratulations, I’m Sorry, on February 13, 1996.
UMe will now reissue both albums on black and limited edition colored vinyl on March 24, marking the 25th anniversary of the release of New Miserable Experience.
Recorded at the legendary Ardent Studios in Memphis, TN, New Miserable Experience was the follow-up to the band’s 1991 EP Up and Crumbling, and it was an apt description of the process. The band’s guitarist and chief songwriter Doug Hopkins was fired near the conclusion of the sessions because of his alcoholism, and then unexpectedly passed away in December, 1993, shortly after receiving his gold plaque for writing the hit single “Hey Jealousy,” leading to the title of their follow-up, Congratulations, I’m Sorry. Scotty Johnson, from The Feedbags assumed lead guitar duty following Doug Hopkins’ departure.
Upon its initial release, New Miserable Experience received lukewarm reviews and minor sales, but nearly a year later, the single “Hey Jealousy,” entered the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100, spurring A&M to re-release the album – with a brand-new cover. New Miserable Experience went to #1 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart and #30 on the Top 200, with “Hey Jealousy” peaking at #25 on theBillboard Hot 100, #20 on Top 40 Mainstream and #4 on Mainstream Rock Tracks. The follow-up, “Found Out About You,” went to #1 at Modern Rock Tracks, #5 on Mainstream Rock Tracks, #6 at Top 40 Mainstream, #25 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #38 at Adult Top 40. Other cuts from the album, like “Mrs. Rita,” scored in the Top 40 at Mainstream Rock Tracks, while “Until I Fall Away” charted at Adult Contemporary (#23), Mainstream Rock Tracks (#40), Modern Rock Tracks (#13) and Top 40 Mainstream (#13) and “Allison Road” scored at Mainstream Rock Tracks (#20) and Modern Rock Tracks (#39). The album spent three years on the charts, eventually selling nearly 5 million copies.
New Miserable Experience is notable for the way the band captures its desert surroundings, as well as the people and events that affected them in a way that anticipates the alt-country movement that was to come. Rolling Stone praised the album, saying “it sounds both fresh and highly personal.” A deluxe tenth anniversary reissue of New Miserable Experience came out in 2002 with an extra disc of demos, outtakes and live performances.
That album’s 1996 successor, Congratulations, I’m Sorry, spawned two more hits, peaking at #10 on the Billboard 200, featuring the band’s highest-charting single to date, “Follow You Down,” which spent 10 weeks in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #9. The multitrack hit scored airplay at Top 40 Adult Recurrents (#1), Adult Top 40 (#3), Top 40 Mainstream (#5), Mainstream Rock Tracks (#6) and Adult Contemporary (#22). Two more singles, “Day Job” (Mainstream Rock Tracks, Modern Rock Tracks) and “As Long As It Matters” (Billboard Hot 100 [#75], Adult Top 40, Top 40 Mainstream) achieved multi-format airplay. The latter earned the band a Grammy nomination for Best Performance by a Duo or Group, where they lost to The Beatles’ “Free as a Bird.” Thanks to a combination of non-stop touring and radio airplay, the album went on to sell more than 1.5 million in the U.S., but shortly after, Gin Blossoms took a four-year hiatus, returning to the road in 2001, and recording two more albums, including Major Lodge Victory (2006) and their most recent, No Chocolate Cake (2010).
Gin Blossoms continue to tour to sold-out audiences, performing over 100 shows a year with original members Robin Wilson, Jesse Valenzuela, Bill Leen, and Scotty Johnson.
New Miserable Experience
“Until I Fall Away”
“Hold Me Down”
“Hands Are Tied”
“Found Out About You”
“Pieces of the Night”
“Follow You Down”
“Not Only Numb”
“As Long As It Matters”
“7th Inning Stretch”
“I Can’t Figure You Out”