There was a time when San Francisco's Two Gallants weren't half as suave as their moniker might suggest.
There was a time when San Francisco's Two Gallants weren't half as suave as their moniker might suggest. From inauspicious beginnings that included impromptu performances on dirty street corners, the duo have gelled into a rollicking folk-punk outfit with a sound culled from organ grinders and delta blues, and filled with brazen pomp. Two Gallants are now able to celebrate five years together with a No. 29 debut on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart.
"I think we've gotten a little more self conscious than we were before," frontman Adam Stephens says. "When we first started playing, our music was much more natural and easier. But now it's kind of unavoidable that a few more people are going to hear it."
Two Gallants (Saddle Creek), the twosome's third full-length, is a mélange of narrative wit, piquant melodies, and flaring angst. Stephens explains that it was the first time they'd ever recorded under the auspices of a producer. "It was quite different in that respect, working with someone who was actually weighing a little bit more. I think it allowed the album to be more concise and to the point in some ways."
While Two Gallants' image has suffered a blow when Pitchfork writer Brian Howe chastised the band's misappropriation of a slave song on 2006's "What the Toll Tells," their resolve was only vulcanized by the incident. "That review was really confusing altogether," Stephens recalls. "Racism is such a huge issue in our country and for someone to say that just because we're white we don't have the right to write about it is well, ignorant in its own right."
The band suffered another blow, literally, during a gig on October 13, 2006 in Houston. A local police responding to a noise violation proceeded to assault Stephens mid-song, throwing the crowd into a chaos as they ran for the doors. Four people were Tasered, including Stephens, and the band's drummer, Tyson Vogel, was incarcerated on what the band feels are dubious charges.
"As far as how all that played out, our immediate reaction was like, 'Oh, we're gonna end up in a lawsuit against the Houston Police Dept,'" Stephens relates. "After months and months of having to go back to Houston just for preliminary hearings and spending thousands of dollars on legal fees, when it was finally resolved all that happened was Tyson got cleared of something he didn't even do in the first place."
Houston was just one hapless night on an otherwise successful tour that, according to Stephens, is still trudging onward. "I mean, I guess we had about a month off altogether this summer from little breaks, but really we've been touring for basically two years with only a few weeks off here and there."
It's not the easiest life, but their Heatseekers bow suggests all the hassle and hard work is paying off.