Gin Blossoms have been making music for over 20 years, helping to define modern alternative rock in the process. With hits such as “Hey Jealousy” and “Til I Hear It From You”, the band became one of the biggest rock acts of the 1990s. In 2002, after a five-year hiatus, the band reunited and has continued to tour and record new music for their loyal fanbase. Recently, they released their fifth studio album, No Chocolate Cake. Lead guitarist Scotty Johnson sat down with PopMatters to answer 20 Questions.
1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
The Time Traveler’s Wife—it brought me to my knees.
No Chocolate Cake
(429; US: 28 Sep 2010; UK: 28 Sep 2010)
2. The fictional character most like you?
Sal Paradise. He and I are very similar. We both travel so much, love jazz, and hanging out with friends!
3. The greatest album, ever?
Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook, Vol. 1.
4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
I remember coming home from school, and going to my friend John’s house where we would sit down and really take the time to watch Star Trek—3:30 p.m. I think. Definitely Star Trek!
5. Your ideal brain food?
I think I’ve read just about every William Faulkner book ever written. Actually, I have two to go. He’s a very challenging read for me; I love to keep a dictionary close by.
6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?
Raising two beautiful girls. My oldest, Rachel, is a sophomore in gorgeous Santa Barbara. She’s a dance major and I get to see her this Saturday. My youngest, Sarah, is a junior in high school and an honor student on cheer. Both are so happy and doing well, I really hope they can support me in my old age.
It’s not easy being in the music business and raising two well-adjusted, intelligent girls – I’m really proud of that! I’m the type that feels maximum serenity when my family and career are thriving and doing well.
7. You want to be remembered for ...?
Being a great dad, and for being a great guitar player.
8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?
Chet Baker, Miles Davis, Leo Fender, Buddha, The Wright Brothers.
9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
I would have loved to sign “Water Lilly” by Monet.
10. Your hidden talents ...?
Well, I’m pretty good at mixing in about any social situation—I actually love my ability to do this and I’m generally accepted (knock on wood). My girlfriend says I’m a really good kisser, and lastly, I love to sing. I sing both in the studio and during live performances. Robin and Jesse really have the parts covered but I’m known in other music situations as the lead singer.
11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?
Don’t spend it all in one place – that’s what my dad used to say. Now I spend it in just two places: on my children and on my career.
12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?
My Valentino suit. I went in again for a custom fit, picked out the fabric and helped with the cut. I just love it. Who would have thought a few years ago that would be my answer!
13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or . . .?
I think it’s more fun to kind of mix it up a bit—maybe wear a nice coat with a worn pair of Levis onstage. It all depends on my mood, but I’m just as comfortable in jeans and t-shirts as I am in a more formal setting.
14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?
My guests would be many adversaries from the leaders of Muslim and Jewish communities, the U.S., N. Korea, Iran, and Iraq.
Four - eight weeks at the Ritz, four - five course meals and bring them in adversarial pairs at a time. I would have much to ask them all, yet it would be wonderful to listen to their approach to solving problems as a fly on the wall.
I would also love to have dinner with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Einstein, Franklin, The Wright Brothers, and of course, my guitar heroes mentioned in this interview.
I’d have many creative questions for them. Many of which are generic such as: What inspired you to create this brilliant pieces of art, and what was their driving force behind it? I’d also ask them what you asked me. Who would they love to have for dinner?
15. Time travel: where, when and why?
I’d like to be 40 years old in 1955 Los Angeles. I’d then have hope to hang with Chet Baker and Stan Freeman, performing with some of my heroes in the Cool Jazz scene.
16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?
Yoga, reading, playing guitar, and I love to relax with a nice glass of wine (Sauvignon Blanc is a favorite). I love hanging out with friends. Just listening to friends recapping the day can be very relaxing to me.
17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or . . .?
Most of the time, I like to keep it healthy. Having good eating habits both at home and on the road is essential. Otherwise, like I mentioned before, a stellar Sauvignon Blanc always puts a smile on my face.
18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?
Some of my favorite places are very urban such as London or Paris, so I guess you could call me a city guy. However, living in such a landlocked city as Phoenix/Arcadia, I also really love visiting any beach community and going for a long walk along the shore.
19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?
I would ask the President: “What in your opinion do you think will be the outcome of Senate Bill 1070 and how would you like it to be resolved?” I’m very concerned of course, being a resident of the state of Arizona.
20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?
Getting out on the road and promoting our new album, No Chocolate Cake! Can’t wait to play the new songs for our fans everywhere!!