The Gin Blossoms’ album, New Miserable Experience, turns 25 years old and celebrates with the release of a commemorative vinyl release. Coming on the heels of the announcement of a summer tour with Sugar Ray, Everclear, Lit and Marcy Playground, the Gin Blossoms are standing tall as one of the few respected 1990s bands still around.
Looking back at their breakthrough record, the band has mixed feelings about their recording process and the incidents that occurred within the group at the time. Problems with the label and between bandmates ensued during the recording.
Hailing from Tempe, Arizona, the band was signed by A&M Records and attempted to cut New Miserable Experience in 1991 in Los Angeles. The recording, with a price tag of $100,000, failed to capture the sound or the band. With the threat of being dropped from the label, they headed to Memphis in 1992 to try a hand at recording again at Ardent Studios.
Ardent was the location that produced a number of alt-rock classics from the likes of the Replacements and Big Star. They hired the legendary engineer John Hampton to produce. He brought his experience with fuzzy guitars and pop sensibilities.
The band, however, was in disarray. Studio executives were debating whether to drop the group but were being pressured to release something at the height of the alternative explosion. This was coupled with the fact that guitarist Doug Hopkins, the founder and chief songwriter, had stumbled into alcoholism and bipolar mental illness.
New Miserable Experience was built on the concept of bridging loud pop anthems with lyrics discussing some of the darker aspects of relationships and life in general. The tortured soul of Hopkins was readily observable, particularly with the breakout, “Hey Jealously.”
The song, like the album, did virtually nothing for about a year until the label decided to give it another push. A new video was filmed and MTV picked it up for regular rotation. It was joined by “Found Out About You” helping the Gin Blossoms ride the wave of the alternative sound into the proverbial port.
After 25 years, the band continues to have success as one of the era’s most accessible musical groups. This album allowed the Gin Blossoms to continue recording and touring with only a few brief hiatuses. Today, the recognizable radio hits can still be heard as background music in restaurants and big box stores nationwide.