As far as Gin Blossoms frontman Robin Wilson is concerned, the sky was the limit for the video for “Face the Dark,” premiering below from the group’s latest album, Mixed Reality.
The sky, and beyond, is featured in the clip, a time-lapse epic which blends footage shot by famed storm chaser Chad Cowan and sequenced into a complementary arrangement by Wilson and Stormy Visuals. “I spend a lot of time on my boat in Arizona gazing up at the stars,” Wilson tells Billboard, “And I thought it would be cool to do a stop-motion video about starscapes and planets and stuff. But then I thought it would be kind of expensive for me to put together a production team to do that.” He became aware of Cowan through TheAwesomer.com, which led to Wilson licensing Cowan’s library of footage and editing it into form with the Stormy team.
“I had to teach the kids at Stormy about the beat to the song,” he says. “I needed edits to sort of go with the music, so I had them put together a test, and when I went in with them we looped some stuff around and went back and forth for a couple of weeks and, kapow!, we got a cool video that nobody in the band had to be in.”
That may seem unusual, of course, but that, along with self-financing, is the new world order in Gin Blossoms when it comes to making videos.
“My bandmates don’t really like being in videos,” Wilson explains. “I must say it’s never fun. It’s a tedious process to film a video, and it’s one thing if you’ve just got one or two people but for a whole band of five guys in it, that’s long day of standing around and waiting to shoot. So I was looking for ways to make interesting videos that we don’t have to be in.”
Wilson adds that “Face the Dark” is entirely a personal labor of love project. “Nobody was telling me to do it,” he says. “The song isn’t a single. We’re not performing it live. It’s just an idea I had, and I wanted to see this through. So I paid for it out of my own pocket — there’s no record company budget, no fund from my bandmates to do this sort of creative work. I just felt like doing it, and it’s really satisfying to just have an idea and see it through and create something for its own sake.”
That spirit is spreading, however; Wilson reports that guitarist Jesse Valenzuela has taken a crew up to Canada to create a video for the track “Wonder.” “It’s cool he’s also going out on a limb to do this,” the frontman says. “At this pace we’re going to be making more videos for this record than any record in our catalog — and it’s ironic because people don’t really buy records or watch videos anymore. So we’re doing it because we have real ideas and a passion to do it.”
Mixed Reality came out during June and is Gin Blossoms’ first new album in eight years, and Wilson says he’s pleased with the reception it’s been getting from fans. He also hopes it won’t be another eight years before the group puts out something new; In fact, he would love to get another project going “as soon as possible,” preferably with producer Don Dixon, though he’s not sure what form it might take.
“I’ve got enough material to get started right now, and Jesse’s always writing,” Wilson says. “There’s different ideas in the band about whether or not it’s worth our money to record an album this way again; We spent about $80,000 out of our own pocket to make this record, and there’s no way to predict how many people are going to buy it. What I’d like to do is maybe one more record this way, sort of a companion, and then I guess we’ll figure out what to do next, whether we self-produce things or just release singles and do it by ourselves.”
Gin Blossoms have a few more shows booked this year in support of Mixed Reality and will get going again during early 2019; The band is also in discussions for an amphitheater package tour that’s currently being put together. Meanwhile Wilson will also be touring with the Smithereens, filling in for the late Pat DiNizio. There are also talks about recording new music with the band, which Wilson is hoping will become reality.
“We have started talking about that,” he says. “The Smithereens are anxious to get going on new stuff; Jim (Babjak, guitarist) has already got songs going he wants me to put some lyrics down to some time this winter. I would very much like to go and record with Don Dixon and the Smithereens; I think that would be awesome. And one of the other singers they’re working with is Marshall Crenshaw, so I’ve suggested that the five of us make a record as the Smithereens, with me and Marshall both singing lead and contributing songs. I think that would be a really cool way to approach it, so we’ll see whether or not it happens.”