I love me some Two Gallants. The Throes is one of the best records of the last decade. Originally appeared in Beatroute Magazine.
Once, a band break-up was terminal. Any amount of time passing where news was unforthcoming about material in the works was another grain in the distressing end of an hourglass. Fortunately, the industry moved past the bonded church marriage stage of band interactions and embraced with open arms civil unions – shacking up and open relationships that let bands wax and wane rather than smash their head against a console until The Spaghetti Incident came out. Record, tour, relax, do other stuff, come back. Boomerang musicianship is the new norm, and just as their “comeback” tour ramps up, Tyson Vogel of blues rock duo Two Gallants reflects on coming back from what used to be the brink.
“We’re pretty excited about the whole thing. It comes naturally with a mixed bag of emotions. It’s been kind of a long time,” Vogel says. As the most dedicated-to-a-vision member of the Saddle Creek roster, news that Two Gallants would be taking some time apart after a string of lauded releases was cause for some concern, even if that concern did not penetrate the band itself. “We went off and did our thing for the past couple years and came back with like, a totally new understanding of ourselves and music in general and the music that we make together. It’s really invigorating and kind of intimidating.”
The break commenced after touring behind their 2007 self-titled release – like The Throes and What The Toll Tells before it, a bourbon soaked blues marvel, with rich narratives and six-gun smarts – didn’t go exactly as planned. “We hadn’t really planned on taking so much time off. Everything with Two Gallants has always been really organic for us. So I mean, the last three years had been really intense.” Personal issues and the demands of touring led to the prolonged absence. “We kinda needed to just step away and try to like, regroup a little bit individually so we could keep things healthy.”
Contributing to the hiatus was a string of unfortunate occurrences and a couple of loud, distracting events. Van breakdowns were just the start of it – album standout “Long Summer Day” on What The Toll Tells met a string of critics ignoring it’s southern fried narrative and instead vacantly decrying it’s use of the word “nigger.” Around the same time, a noise complaint was served by a Houston police officer that chose to physically stop a Two Gallants show, assaulting both members of the band. “It was never like really shy of strange happenings. Those were just one out of quite a few bizarre experiences. It definitely added to it. When the Houston thing happened, the events kept leading to pending disaster. We had to sort of step back and take a good look at why we were inviting such shaky things.”
Their time apart invited the other new norm of band life – side projects. Vogel flexed his compositional muscles with Devotionals while partner in crime Adam Stephens cracked out a solo record. “I think it was really necessary for him as well. The songs he wrote on his own were very different than we would have written. I think we both achieved something that way. With the new understandings, there’s a new quality.” Those new understandings, Vogel says, light the way forward.
“We want to do things differently because we don’t want it to happen the way it did before. We weren’t very healthy individuals when we took a break. We both have gotten over some hurdles and want to keep it in the past.”