Gas Giants Biography
Last updated: 08/01/2001 02:21:19 AM
As a member of the multi-platinum selling band the Gin Blossoms, lead singer Robin Wilson experienced all that rock stardom had to offer from TV appearances, touring, record sales, and music videos to Grammy nominations. So when he rounded up ex-Blossoms drummer Philip Rhodes and his longtime friend/guitarist Daniel Henzerling to form the Gas Giants, he knew he wanted only one thing.
"I want it all over again. And in fact, I want to take the showbiz stuff one step farther than the Gin Blossoms ever did. I want to be on cereal boxes in Japan," Wilson says. "In a lot of ways the Gin Blossoms resisted fame and the things that come with it. Rock life isn't something we saw on VH1. Phillip and I lived it and are prepared to start all over again."
Armed with a new record of edgy pop songs, FROM BEYOND THE BACK BURNER, their own recording studio dubbed Mayberry, and a new label, Atomic Pop, the trio is prepared for the competition and spirits are high. Perhaps that's because they already feel like they've fought half the battle just getting this record to market.
The Gas Giants (which refers to the planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) formed in 1997, but the seeds were planted many years before that when Henzerling and Wilson were working as clerks mid-80s at the local Tower Records in Phoenix. Wilson explains, "I wanted to be in a band with Dan since our days at retail. We'd be in back stickering U2 albums and talking about how cool it would be in a band together and who we would want to sound like. It just didn't happen until two years ago."
The band was initially signed to the Blossoms' former label A&M. By May of 1998 they had built Mayberry and finished FROM BEYOND THE BACK BURNER with producer John Hampton. Wilson adds, "He was a best friend and mentor to the Blossoms so we have a real easy working relationship. When you can communicate with inside jokes and gestures, it makes recording all the more spontaneous and productive."
As fate would have it, Gas Giants became embroiled in the Polygram-Universal merger and the album was delayed. "Eventually we found ourselves with an album and studio that A&M paid for, and the freedom to choose where we wanted our career to go next," Wilson says. "Shortly thereafter, we connected with Atomic Pop, who had a revolutionary idea about how to distribute records, and a business model that gave us total control over our music. For the first time in our career, we’re going into an album debt-free. And if we had any hang-ups about signing with a new smaller label, those were extinguished the day the Public Enemy album came out."
One area that Gas Giants took liberty was with the music and lyrics, heavily inspired by power pop icons like Cheap Trick, the Replacements, and Tom Petty. The effort is harder and more ambitious than anything Wilson has done before. "Most of the difference is in how we approached the music. I'm always going to sound like me and I am proud of my previous work with the Gin Blossoms. There are a lot of Gin Blossoms' songs still played on the radio, and I wrote a lot of them, so I intend to ride my own coattails."
FROM BEYOND THE BACK BURNER is a collection of 13 stand-out tracks. Wilson describes the first single "Quitter," as "a sing-songy traditional pop tune" that contains "the best lyrics I've ever written." The opening track, "Now The Change," falls somewhere between the Cult and the Cars. Wilson says, "I wanted to write a really spaced-out song with nonsense lyrics and a perfect guitar solo -a 'My Sharona' 2000."
Also destined to grab attention is the stellar album art, for which Gas Giants called in noted comic artist Geof Darrow ("Hard Boiled"). "Most groups don't put much effort into packaging, but I wanted to give people something that was worth keeping if you lost the CD. Darrow is incredible and now our merchandise, t-shirts, and web site look amazing," says Wilson.
Concern over every career detail like packaging proves the kind of all-out passion the Gas Giants have for music. Like the distant and powerful planets they are named after, the trio intends to go above and beyond what is expected of your average pop band. "I have only had two dreams in my life - to be a spaceman and to be a rock star- so I intend to do everything in my power to make the Gas Giants successful," Wilson says, "We are one of the luckiest groups in the world. We survived the biggest corporate merger in music history and walked away with our own recording studio, a record we love, and a label that believes in us.”
Additional Band Info
"Daniel and I have been talking about starting a band since we were teenagers," says Robin Wilson, the former lead singer of the Grammy® nominated Gin Blossoms. Wilson refers to guitarist Daniel Henzerling; a veteran of celebrated Tempe club bands, including a short stint as drummer for the Blossoms.
The duo first met while working as clerks at Tower Records in the mid-eighties. But it took more than a decade for them to come together, along with Blossoms drummer Phillip Rhodes to form Gas Giants. The band signed with A&M Records in late l997, built a recording studio, dubbed "Mayberry", and recorded their debut LP From Beyond the Back Burner, by May of 98.
Recorded with producer John Hampton, the record is harder and more ambitious than the multi-platinum works of the Gin Blossoms. Stand out tracks include the aggressive Now the Change, and the barn burner Circus of Stars. The first single, Quitter, was receiving heavy rotation on Phoenix and Las Vegas radio stations long before the albums release, which was delayed due to the sale of A&M to the Universal Music Group.
The timing may have been fortunate because the group found itself with a completed record in time to take advantage of the artist friendly policies of Atomic Pop, and to become one of the first Rock bands to launch a record as a digital download. Wilson explains, "The Internet seems to scare the major labels because artists don't need them to sell records online. It's great to be involved with something that frightens so many millionaires. And as a band we now have unprecedented control over our music and the money it earns." And what of the inevitable comparisons to his former band? Wilson shrugs, "I don't think that Gin Blossoms fans will be disappointed. With the harder edge of Gas Giants, we might appeal to an even wider audience."