STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
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They emoted before there was emo, and had twang in their rock before there was alt country.
They blended jangle pop, satisfying vocal harmonies and moody lyrics to create a memorable string of hits and two platinum-selling albums in the mid-’90s.
The Gin Blossoms overcame having to part ways with troubled founding member Doug Hopkins — who committed suicide before becoming known as the author of two of the band’s best-known songs, “Hey Jealousy” and “Found Out About You” — and later had to adapt to a music business landscape that drastically changed during a breakup/hiatus the band took from 1997-2001.
“We just started up and never stopped,” said guitarist/songwriter Jesse Valenzuela of the reunion.
Reached by phone the day the band was scheduled to play a show in Winston-Salem, N.C., he said The Gin Blossoms, who last released new music in 2010, are on pace to play at least 75 concerts this year, including Bethlehem’s ArtsQuest at SteelStacks March 19.
When told the show was on the grounds of the former Bethlehem Steel campus, Valenzuela joked that the band could launch into the 1983 hit “Maniac” by Michael Sembello from the movie “Flashdance,” referencing the opening couplet: “Just a steel town girl on a Saturday night/looking for the fight of her life.”
Speaking of movie music, The Gin Blossoms hit “Till I Hear It From You,” was on the soundtrack for “Empire Records,” and according to Valenzuela, their next new songs will be for film and TV projects. However, he declined to give any details.
The band has joined forces with several of their ‘90s contemporaries in recent years. In 2012, they toured with Everclear, Sugar Ray, Lit and Marcy Playground. They’ve also gone on the road with the band Fastball (“The Way”). One of Valenzuela’s close friends is Danny Wilde of The Rembrandts (“I’ll Be There For You,” “Just Way It Is, Baby”). The two co-wrote four songs on the 2006 Gin Blossoms album “Major Lodge Victory.”
“I’ve written with Danny a lot over the years (for) TV (projects),” said Valenzuela, who’s also written a song for the next album by pop-singer-turned-country-singer Josh Kelley.
In addition, Valenzuela’s recorded a solo album — his second — which, he said, is in the manufacturing stage.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: The Gin Blossoms in concert.
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. March 19.
WHERE: ArtsQuest at SteelStacks, 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem.
INFO: Call (610) 297-7100 or visit www.artsquest.org.