Two Gallants - Biography
By Marcus Kagler
The delta blues based indie rock of Two Gallants may appear simplistic on the surface, but lurking underneath their stripped down aesthetic is a sepia toned murky swamp of dystopian vistas filled with criminals, corrupt politicians, suicides, snake oil salesmen, and domestic violence. If this all sounds like a night at Tom Waits house it’s because Two Gallants wallow in the same ignobly dark fables Waits also mines, although the San Francisco based duo use blues and folk based tools as opposed to Waits growling Tin Pan Alley bag of tricks. Childhood friends, Adam Stephens and Tyson Vogel began gigging around Northern California’s Bay Area in 2002 under the name Two Gallants, a moniker taken from a story within the James Joyce classic Dubliners. With a sound based around Stephens sinister guitar parts and narrative lyrics backed by Vogel’s tempestuous percussion, the group quickly made a local name for themselves and released their debut full length, The Throes (2004 Alive) to unanimous critical praise. The following year the duo signed to the Omaha, Nebraska based indie label Saddle Creek and recorded another critically acclaimed follow up, What The Bell Tolls (2006 Saddle Creek). The track “Long Summer Day” drew some critical ire for the use of the infamous “n-word”. Stephens and Vogel justified the word’s use within in a track that tackled the inherent wrongs of American slavery. The pair ran into more trouble on the subsequent tour when a gig in Houston was disrupted by the local police responding to a noise complaint and a near riot ensued. Stephens amongst numerous others were Tasered by the police and Vogel was subsequently arrested but was released after posting a $1,400 bail. The self titled third full length, Two Gallants (2007 Saddle Creek) appeared a year later and found the duo edging toward conventional song structures particularly on first single “Despite What You’ve Told Me”. After a spending the better part of a year on tour, Two Gallants dropped by Amoeba Berkley for a memorable in-store performance on August 21, 2008 before heading back out on the road.