See also: Two Gallants: Bring out Your Dead
Five years is almost an eternity in indie rock circles. You can't go too long with out releasing a record for fear of losing hard-earned fans to fickle blog followers and whatever new micro-subgenre that pops up.
But for Two Gallants, San Franciscans Adam H. Stephens (guitar, vocals) and Tyson Vogel (drums, vocals, guitar), the break between 2007's self-titled third album and the forthcoming The Bloom and the Blight (out Tuesday, September 4 on ATO Records) was necessary.
"We've always done things in an organic fashion," Vogel explains of the decision to take some time off in 2009. "We never even intended to become a band [in the first place, and] when that happened, it was just this natural thing. We didn't anticipate taking such a long break. We thought, let's take a year off, and that became three [years]."
But the time off was good for both members of the band: Stephens explored his singer/songwriter side with a solo record on Saddle Creek Records, and Vogel crafted a record as Devotionals, exploring his fascination with American Primitivism, for Alive Records (Two Gallants previously recorded for both labels).
"[Devotionals gave me] the chance to step out from behind the drum set and expand on my thoughts about music," Vogel says. "I think it definitely influenced the approach of the songwriting we had together on The Bloom and the Blight. I think Adam went through a similar thing with his record. We had a chance to expand in different way."
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The Bloom and the Blight shows off that growth. Opening track "Halycon Days" swings with blues-rock swagger, with Stephens howling over a fuzzy riff while Vogel thumps out double bass drum thuds. "Cradle Pyre" sounds like prime grunge, if those flannel-clad musicians had embraced Queen as much as punk rock.
-- Tyson Vogel
"After this break, and having time for both of us to spread out a bit, the songs just came back and were heavy and loud."
It's not all fury, though: Vogel's "Decay" is a solemn hymn in the middle of the record, a reverberating moan shaken awake by his forceful drumming in the songs final moments (before softly fading out again).
"We took that time off, because we really needed the time to redefine our approach to art and music making," Vogel says, noting that the record's cathartic vibe reflects not only the positive aspects of the break but also the negative: During the time off, Stephens was in a car accident, and Vogel's eight-year relationship disintegrated.
"We needed to try some different things and nurture...just things we had been putting off for so long traveling extensively," Vogel says. "After this break, and having time for both of us to spread out a bit, the songs just came back and were heavy and loud."
The album finds the duo rejuvenated, hitting the road after a difficult couple of years.
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"We've been traveling together since were 21 years old," Vogel says. "That's why we took the break; there were some fissures in the structure. But Two Gallants was too important to us to let petty things get in the way."
Two Gallants are scheduled to perform Wednesday, September 5, at Crescent Ballroom.