GINGERSOL

Over the last five years, a secret society of bands darting back and forth between indie-pop and Americana has made some very memorable, just-left-of-center, song-based rock. The Pernice Brothers, Dolly Varden, Hazeldine, Clem Snide, Minibar and Nadine (for starters) haven't quite broken the urban hipsters' icy, Radiohead-is-God glare or shaken off comparisons to Wilco, but they also haven't succumbed to either genre's more obvious clichés. Number Gingersol among them.

Gingersol was born in the mind of Steve Tagliere in 1995 while living in Los Angeles. This first incarnation of the band was wrought with inconsistency and hosted a revolving door of backing musicians. Frustrated by his inability to find dedicated musicians to play with, Steve disbanded Gingersol decided to go it alone. He recorded a solo album Trust Myself in 1998 on his own aptly named Pretend Record Company.

"I didn't want to stop doing music.” Steve says, “That's what Trust Myself was all about. After a while I just decided, 'Hey I've got some recording gear, I'm going to make an album.' I self-released it, and it did well for that sort of thing. People still talk to me about it four years later, which is pretty flattering." Turning down the wattage from Gingersol's previous efforts, Tagliere's sandpapery crackle stood front and center spinning tales of lovable losers and down-but-not-out protagonists. The album won a lot of critical acclaim, including the stamp of approval from former Minneapolis music guru and alt-a&r pro Peter Jesperson.

It was then through a chance meeting through a mutual friend, that Steve came in contact with fellow L.A. musician Seth Rothschild at a Sebedoh show. The two immediately bonded and the night ended with Steve handing Seth a copy of Trust Myself. As Seth tells it “That morning I woke up and put on Steve’s record. It was surprisingly good. Surprising, because most people give you records and they’re OK but this I wanted to start over. It was a like a real record, with real songs. I called him and told him how much I appreciated the record and he seemed to appreciate my appreciation. The next morning I went over with a keyboard and played a makeshift drum kit – most everything was dangling. As a three-piece we learned about 20 or 30 songs that day and drank a case of beer. During which a guy called and asked if we could fill in the next night, he had someone cancel. So we said sure…we’ve been playing ever since.”

“I had pretty much given up on trying to play music with other people in the six or eight months prior to meeting Seth.” Steve says, “I felt that never had enough in common musically or personally to really turn the corner and really grow. I was resigned to just playing with my brother or solo.” The first offering in this new collaboration was the critically acclaimed Nothing Stops Moving. This official debut finds Gingersol returning as a reinvigorated, stripped-down unit. Numerous people provided the rhythm section support, but it doesn't really make a difference whether it is a proper band or not, though, because the music is fabulous from end to end.

The new incarnation and their new record brought them to the attention of many critics and fellow musicians. The band found itself playing and befriending many of the stars on the alt-rock scene, including The Wallflowers, PeteYorn, Alejandro Escovedo and Superdrag. It was then that changes in their personal lives brought changes to Gingersol the band. Both men got married, and when both of their spouses were offered jobs in New York City, they saw it as a chance to conquer a new territory, and so the two packed it up and moved across the country.
The band immediately came to the attention of Rubric Records, which released the band’s next offering The Train Wreck is Behind You. If Nothing Stops Moving was a rousing catharsis, The Train Wreck Is Behind You is compellingly self-assured. If the former was a reinvigoration, its melodic ebullience belying songs that were still tender and cynically cautious at their cores, the latter is entirely vibrant, a seamless and sonorous achievement that picks up on the scarred sensitivity of the first album in its initial stages before superseding that fragility with a fresh sense of vigor and possibility.

Relentless touring followed, and the band garnered many new fans. The time would also see some of the band’s songs being used in a variety of television and film including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Miramax’s Bounce, and even had a song covered by a fictional rock band in the VH1 made for TV movie, Friends till the End. But it’s always when things are brightest, that misfortune rears its head. Turmoil in both the band’s personal lives and the rest of the world would put derail them momentarily, but would also provide a wealth of musical inspiration for the new album, Eastern.

“For Gingersol the last two or three years has been very challenging to say the least. Both Seth and my marriages have ended and there have been huge hurdles for us to keep going.” Steve says reflectively, “My songs, like Seth’s, are mostly deal with what has now has become the end of my marriage. I didn’t want my marriage to end and I tried to keep it alive and that is a big part of every song.”

Seth also had heartbreak to guide him. “My three songs, as I look at them, are all about my marriage ending, and I guess there’s just three different points of view on that. Although I was strung out on Vicoden after a ski accident and in a fragile emotional state, I think that the song “I Did” may be the first newer Gingersol song that has some humor. It’s mostly about failure and not understanding convention, but when I wrote it it seemed funny. The other two “Please Let Me Go,” and “Rome’s Behind Us” seem pretty easy to understand.” The album centerpiece however, “Great Day For a War” were inspired by how the newly arrived to New York Tagliere viewed the tragic events of September 11th. “It’s a song about how I felt waiting for the war against terrorism to start after September 11th when after all I moved here for good on September 9th.”

While you might think that this might make for a depressing album, this is far from the case. As Seth puts it, “The new record, to me, sounds and feels epic. It’s much longer than other Gingersol records, the process was longer, it includes the two longest Gingersol songs, but none of this is negative, it just feels expansive…big.” Steve also remains very optimistic about the future of Gingersol. “I couldn't be more excited about the direction his band is heading. It's only the beginning. We are only scratching the surface of what the music can be and we try to be really conscious of that," admits Tagliere. "There's a lot more we could be doing, it's easy to fall back on formulas when you're creating a song, but that's ultimately less satisfying. To get the definitive version of a song and the right mix of sounds is what it's all about. To get to the place where you're making stuff that's personally inspiring and you can stop thinking about and just enjoy is really special. That's what we try to do."

Eastern will receive a March 9th release on Rubric Records. A coast-to-coast tour in support of the new record is being planned for the spring with label mate Mary Lou Lord. Gingersol will also pull double duty on the tour, as they will also be filling in as the backing band for the Boston songstress. It’s the kind of test the guys enjoy. “I’m excited. It’ll be nice to play in front of a new audience. It will be challenging and fun to be a musician in someone’s band.” Seth says. While it’s not quite a make-or-break situation it is a hopeful turning point as Steve puts it. “We are always doing Gingersol…we probably should be doing something else. I have produced records and had various day jobs in L.A. (music supervisor, tie salesman, messenger) between recording and shows. But we should be able to sustain ourselves through our spring touring and if the record starts doing well, maybe days jobs will be in the distant future or distant past.”