Two San Francisco natives and childhood friends, Adam Stephens and Tyson Vogel, are the creative force behind Two Gallants, a two-piece band devised of mainly guitars, drums and vocals.
The guitars are booming and vigorous, with angst equally matched by sincere beauty. The drumming complements the melodies perfectly with movements that work like clockwork.
We caught up with drummer, Tyson Vogal, to talk about the band’s new album, performing February 23 as part of the Independent’s 10-year anniversary celebration and recent developments in San Francisco.
What does your involvement in the Independent’s 10-year anniversary celebration mean to you?
The Independent has always been a huge supporter of things generally in San Francisco, and we are honored to have had their support from early on. It’s such an honor to be part of the 10-year celebration along with the other bands. To really put my toe in and get personal, for me playing there again in regards to this celebration comes with a lot of mixed emotions, because I appreciated it so much and spent time there before it was the Independent, using fake ID’s to watch shows at the Justice League.
To play and bring what we’re doing, and include our timeline into it makes me sort of thoughtful of the environment. It’s a great opportunity in the midst of this upheaval in San Francisco. The neighborhood is changing; the city is having this huge conversation of development, so much relevant stuff, especially to us because we are both natives. But people who sincerely care run it, and that’s important.
You recently collaborated with Minna Choi and the Magik Magik Orchestra for a show at the Fox Theater. How was that experience?
That was one of a kind, it was another amazing opportunity that we were honored to be given. To work with such a focused professional person like Minna, especially with how sweet she is, the undertaking was a big one. We both admire her and appreciate what she’s doing by combining these elements. It’s a real opportunity for education. It was special to have that and to play with so many good musicians and share a stage with everybody. We both felt very touched by the evening.
It reminded everybody why we were here, and it struck me that night that to be a musician seemed healthy. It was lighthearted with this Great Spirit that was being translated from kids to adults, and everyone felt an equal participant. It was a great metaphor to what music can do. It was like an antithesis from a rock experience because it was hospitable and everything seemed right. Instead of being forced out of a club with no water and getting paid very little, you get to high five a kid at the end of the night.
You’re recording your next record; can you tell us anything about it?
We literally arrived back home this morning. These last two weeks we focused really hard on recording this new record. We stayed in a cabin that’s a studio, held up there for two weeks and sort of exhumed this new chapter in our songwriting. It’s going to be different, but I can’t really say what people can expect.
Is it because you don’t want to play spoiler?
It’s not about spoiling it. It’s just, perhaps, being really close to it. I’d rather not put a name or anything to it because it’s still living early in the moment, and I’m still getting to know it . You’re sort of blind in the early process, you see all this stuff but you’re still blind.
You have been making music together since you were young, and have been playing in Two Gallants since 2002. It seems like with each record you explore yourselves a little bit more. Would you say the same for this new record?
Yes, I think in a different way than before we have explored a new realm of sound and approach to sound and songs. I try not to be too critical but at the same time, I will admit there’s “alchemy” to the chemistry of our presence together as a band. We both are constantly in our own minds, sort of striving and digging really hard on our own and expanding our music and sound—like a spirit that wants to take us.
With a lot of our records, I feel like all of a sudden this thing we’ve worked really hard on is suddenly there. I guess the way I’d describe how we work is fanatically, to a certain extent. When it starts, it’s hard to hold back. It just kind of happens. I think we also have to trust in each other. Within a band you have to have a sense of trust, it’s like family. You have to be on the same page. This record was really an expansion of that, by far.
You took an almost five year hiatus from 2007 to 2012 and then released the widely acclaimed, The Bloom and the Blight. Did that break bring you closer as a band?
Within the band, we basically put out four records in four years and toured over 200 days a year. Looking back neither one of us wanted to take so long. We said we wanted to take a year and live and put our feet back on the ground. We had been traveling since we were 21 and never stopped.
Down to that there was this aggressive alienation that was happening that made the relationship in the band harder because neither one of us were very clear. When we came back after new experiences and expanding and with age and other personal experiences—by no means for either of us it was an easy time—that same chemistry was there but formed in a different manner. … It was that same sort of passion and wildfire of ideas that started flowing in the same manner as before but in a different way. It continues to surprise us as we expand and grow.
People often forget that music is a connection and a form of communication that creates a sort of unspoken bond.
I’ve been thinking about that and how we view our experience within the American context of making music—being drawn to creativity. Once you take away the sheen of the social structure, music is just like a way of communicating in a different manner. Past dramas and all that, once you erase those things, even in different lives and currents, that sort of chemistry you have will inform you. You have to feed it or it will go away if you neglect it, but the core isn’t affected. That’s inherent in almost every relationship.
Two Gallants play at the Independent on Sunday, February 23. The show starts at 8pm and tickets are $25.