Gasoline Lollipops
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Gasoline Lollipops

Boulder, Colorado, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | SELF

Boulder, Colorado, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2010
Band Americana Country




"The Gasoline Lollipops' Ever-Evolving Musical Mission"

The Gasoline Lollipops have been a lot of things during their six-plus year run: An acoustic punk duo, a rockabilly-inflected alt-country combo, amped-up “electric cow punk” rockers, and most recently, a multi-piece outfit churning out psychedelic classic Americana.

These evolving and unconventional self-descriptions come courtesy of GasPops’ front man and songwriter Clay Rose, whose notions and acceptance of life’s impermanence influence the core of everything he conceives. “They say the only constant is change, but humans want something to hold onto,” says Rose of his perpetually morphing musical instincts. He cites influences as varied as the Violent Femmes, Hank Williams, thrash-rockers NOFX, and the legendarily category-defying Leonard Cohen. (Rose’s four-year-old son’s name is Cohen.) “I might be a little ADD,” Rose says. “I like to mix things up, and I’m more of an alchemist than a musician.”

The things Rose held onto for many years were the overabundant crutches of drugs and alcohol—trying, he says, to find stability in the most unstable substances there are. “That gave me a sort of static plasticity, but if you do it long and hard enough you start to stop and wonder who the hell you are anymore,” he says.

Now sober for almost a year, Rose is unwilling—and unable—to leave his music behind, even if navigating that lifestyle can often be like tiptoeing through a minefield. He admits that some performance nights are more difficult than others because of all the typical ways people “tip” bands: by buying them a drink or offering them some other mind-altering morsel. These days, Rose says he sometimes “makes a compromise with the devil on my shoulder” and stays at whatever bar he’s just played, shooting pool and drinking Red Bulls. On other nights, he ghosts out for home to binge-watch Netflix.

Rose has been helped through this transition by a strong group of sober friends who attend GasPops’ shows and look out for him, a welcome buffer zone that enables him to keep doing what he loves. “Some sober circles will say when you get sober you have to change your playmates and playthings, but music is the one thing I can’t live without,” Rose says. “It’s my therapy. I don’t understand how people who don’t have the ability to scream their lungs out into a microphone on a regular basis can stay sane, because it’s an imperative for me. Otherwise I’d be one of those guys walking down the street screaming in people’s faces.”

For now, he’ll be able to keep screaming into the mike. The GasPops are currently recording a new album, Resurrection, that’s scheduled to be released on Valentine’s Day. It’s the concluding chapter in a trilogy that began with Death and Dawn, two records that combine brooding, introspective ballads with rambling outlaw country rocker tunes that showcase the electrifying musicianship of Rose’s band mates, including guitarist Donny Ambory, bassist Brad Morse, drummer Adam Perry, and fiddler Jeb Bows (who also plays with fellow Boulderite Gregory Alan Isakov).

Over the next month or so, the band will play the new 500-seat Caribou Room in Nederland on September 23; Winter Park’s Ullrs Tavern on October 1; Swing Station near Fort Collins on October 14; and the Hi-Dive on November 10. They’re hoping that these shows—at venues that are larger than most of the bars they typically play—along with the upcoming release will help them graduate to that next step: a deal with an agent and a record label. “We’ve always been a DIY outfit, but now we’re shopping around for agents and management because the business side has gotten too big and busy for us to handle alone,” Rose says. “We feel like the Caribou show will hopefully be our grand entry into our next level of musicality, an uncomfortable but exciting metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly. It’s a leap of faith, but we’re hoping our fans, in-laws and ex-laws will all come out.”

Regardless of where this fork leads, it won’t affect Rose’s overall path or the way he finds inspiration and turns it into his own distinct sound, which he describes as “just pulling from my musical influences, putting it in the pot, stirring it around, then adding my own personal brand of heartache to it.” - 5280 Magazine

"Gasoline Lollipops' Clay Rose Finds Strength in Sobriety"

As a musician, an American, a father — hell, a human — this is a big week for Clay Rose, the singer-songwriter and frontman of the Boulder-born punk-Americana band Gasoline Lollipops.

On Tuesday, there’s the pesky matter of the presidential election, an event that Rose, who’s been as morbidly fascinated with it as any of us, unironically likened to the dawn of the dark ages. (“It’s about to get ugly, regardless of who wins,” he said.)

And if we make it to Thursday, Rose’s Gasoline Lollipops are gearing up to play the Hi-Dive, its first headlining show in Denver, one they’ve understandably been hungrily anticipating.

“Being a Boulder band playing Denver feels like we’re from Siberia sometimes,” said Gasoline Lollipops drummer Adam Perry.

For a band that’s been in the Colorado music scene for seven years, a sell-out show at the 300-person rock room on South Broadway might seem a low bar to clear. But numbers aren’t representative of how the four-piece’s music feels: uncompromised, vicious and authentic. That’s a less measurable success and, arguably, rarer.

“Back when I was coming up, they used to say so-and-so ‘sold out,’ which means to compromise your ideals and morality to get where you’re going,” Rose said in a phone interview while driving to pick up his 4-year-old son from school. “These days, not too many people sell out, because they don’t have those things to begin with. They’re ready (to sell out) before they pick up the guitar.”

Still, Rose, who does contract construction work to make ends meet, doesn’t begrudge those who have. You gotta do what you gotta do, he explained, and pointed out there are examples of selling out done right, like Gregory Alan Isakov, who donated 100 percent of the profits from a song that was placed in a McDonald’s commercial to altruistic organizations.

Also, he admits, he’s not one to talk.

“I’ve never been given the opportunity to sell out,” Rose said. “And $100,000 would make life a whole lot easier at this point.”

That train of thought brings up Nov. 7. That’s the day that marked a year since Rose first started down the road of sobriety.

“(Alcoholism) is a disease of heartbreak and addiction,” he said. “When people die alcoholics, people around them say they didn’t want it hard enough, that they didn’t try. But most of the folks I’ve known who died from it died wanting to live.”

Rose remembers the night he was afforded the opportunity to turn his life around. How he got there, less so.

“I came to that night gradually, subtly, without hardly noticing,” Rose said. “I don’t know what happened. One day, you’re living in your car hanging by a thread, not sure if you’re going to live to tomorrow.”

Those who’ve been able to stem the tide of self-destructive drinking habits often describe a moment of clarity, a forest-for-the-trees instant that provides a way forward. Rose is no different. Unable to sleep, he sat awake through the night of Nov. 6, 2015, a Friday, after a gig at Rollinsville, Colo.’s Stage Stop, looking at the stars above the peak-to-peak highway.

“My heart broke right around dawn,” Rose said. “It broke for myself and my son. I saw the innocence in my son and myself. I saw that we’re all just like children. Some (of us) have been around longer than others, but we’re all still like children.”

Rose described the moment as a door that had finally opened just long enough for him to walk through it. Although he’d made the decision to get sober “every day for years,” it never took until that morning.

Despite the year of momentum, as a touring musician, Rose is acutely aware of how challenging his abstention could prove. Common wisdom says that parties and bars and breweries and clubs are no place for someone trying to avoid alcohol. The band makes that impossible.

And so he’s developed his own method of coping with spending night after night performing in his personal lion’s den. By his admission, Rose had consumed a lot of LSD, his favorite drug, since he was a teenager. So much so that he can recall the feelings it inspires in him — “good and at home” and with “no desire” to drink — at will.

“If I’m in a sketchy place at a gig and people are setting drinks on the stage, I’ll try to recall what it feels like and activate those feelings of not needing the drink,” he said. “I’ll try to feel what part is missing, to fill that part with my mindfulness practice and see if that works. And if it doesn’t, I’ll get the hell out of there.”

Naturally, Rose’s struggles are splayed across his music. So far, Gasoline Lollipops has released two EPs of their so-called Lucky Sevens trilogy: “Dawn” and “Death,” which in sound imagine a punk band transplanted to the age of saloons and desperadoes. For as explicit as those titles seem, the introductions that adjoin each EP prove otherwise: “Dawn,” Rose writes, “witnesses the sometimes violent birth of hope”; “Death” “explores all things impermanent, including but not limited to death.”

So while Gasoline Lollipops’ third EP, “Resurrection” — which is set for release on Valentine’s Day 2017 — sounds like life on the upswing, it’s no less ambiguous.

“First of all, it begins with a corpse,” Rose said of the title. “Life is breathed back into it. But as I can attest, that’s not necessarily a pleasant sensation, having pulled myself back from the brink of death this past year.”

Drummer Perry, who’s a recent addition to the band, said the new EP has a harder, punk edge, and is precariously balanced between doomed mire (in an e-mail, he described the title track as “psychedelic murder rock”) and gusts of hope and levity.

Because for as fraught as that term may be to Rose, listening to him tell the story of how far he’s come — which often spills out in what sounds like pre-cut fragments of literary prose — he knows he’s not better off dead. Where he used to depend on alcohol for courage, Rose is finding strength in his those around him: from his son, who’s started banging on pianos and playing with a C harmonica (“He’s already better than Neil Young,” Rose joked), to the circle of friends he’d been too proud to lean on in the past.

Sobriety has “opened his heart,” craning his neck from the misanthropic default of his punk days to see that there is love all around him and has always been. He’s only needed to reach for it.

“I had to let go of everything and step completely into the unknown because I didn’t know how to live without killing myself,” Rose said. “I started asking anyone and everyone around me who looked like they were living well.”

“Lo and behold,” he added, “they gave it to me with open arms.” - Denver Post

"GasPops Bring Elegance and Grit to Denver's Hi-Dive"

Alt-country band Gasoline Lollipops doesn’t sound like the cliché of a Boulder music group. But when you consider that there has long been a strong folk scene in Boulder and nearby Nederland as well as an on-again, off-again punk underground kicking around the college town, it seems inevitable that a band like GasPops would emerge. With album titles like Dawn, Death and the forthcoming Resurrection, comparisons to Jaysun Munly, another former Boulder-based alt-country artist with folk roots, seem obvious. But GasPops singer and guitarist Clay Rose spent some time in Nashville, guitarist Donny Ambory has a background in rockabilly, upright bassist Brad Morse came from the jazz world, and drummer (and Westword contributor) Adam Perry brings a punk element to the band. That diversity has synthesized into a group that combines elegance with grit and a rambunctious intensity. Gasoline Lollipops performs on Thursday, November 10, at the hi-dive. - Westword

"On Air Next with the Gasoline Lollipops' Clay Rose"

Gasoline Lollipops has been taking the local music scene by storm for the past six years. Their rough-and-tumble live shows and infectious punk energy have earned showcase spots at SXSW, won "Best Country Artist 2016" from Westword, and were named "Best Band-Boulder, CO" in the Colorado Daily's own 2014 and 2015 polls. In anticipation of their show this Friday at The Caribou Room in Nederland, I found a chance to sit down with songwriter/vocalist Clay Rose and discuss what's happened in the past, what's happening now, and what's coming next for the Colorado local music scene.

EJ: How long have you been in Colorado?

CR: I've been here on and off throughout my whole life. I was living in Tennessee kinda through the end of high school until I was 22, I moved back here, and I've been here since.

EJ: When you moved back, were you playing right away?

CR: Yeah, I was playing music in Nashville, and I came here when a management company wanted to get involved with me. I came out for that, but at the time I was playing solo acoustic punk folk — it was political in content and fairly aggressive.

EJ: How was the reception?

CR: It was great! The '90s was still kind of alive in Boulder at that time. In Boulder the '90s were huge for punk and folk both, and there were a lot of venues for that kind of music. There was Tulagi's and Penny Lane, and back in the day there were more venues. They slowly dwindled through the '80s and '90s and then got massacred in the early 2000s. Now we're left with the Fox and the Boulder Theatre and that's kind of it.


EJ: Where were those venues?

CR: Tulagi's was right on the Hill, two doors down from the Fox, just about the same size, maybe a little smaller. It could hold about 500 people; the Fox holds (600) or 700. Penny Lane was really where I cut my teeth playing music. It was a coffee shop at 18th and Pearl. Ani DiFranco played there and Nirvana played there. It was a place for smaller-time folk and punk acts that came through town. They were really good to the local musicians and poetry scene. Naropa used to have readings there a lot.

2002-2006 was kind of my summer of love, musically speaking, in Colorado. There were so many great acts and venues and everybody was on board helping each other out. There was a lot going on; since then things have changed a lot. Sometime between 2006 and 2012, local people started getting recognized on a national level. Born In The Flood, which was Nathaniel Rateliff's first band, to Gregory Alan Isakov and then eventually The Lumineers. A whole lot of attention started being paid to our music scene, and that always changes things.

If you look at Greenwich Village back in the '60s before Bob Dylan broke, it was all the same players but a very different vibe.

EJ: Are there any unheard-of past bands that were totally killer?

CR: There were a ton of them. A ton of them all the time. Mosey West, that band kicked ass. Oh, there was Al Trout, that was super killer. He had this band for a while, they were so fucking good, it was this really dark gothic Americana. Mosey West was just straight hardcore rock, and right now there's RL Cole who's just killer. He's one of my favorites. I went on tour with him last year, just me and him on a solo tour through Arkansas and New Orleans. It was epic.

EJ: How are the Gasoline Lollipops received in Boulder, Denver and Nederland?

CR: It's definitely received really well in the mountain towns, and in Fort Collins I feel like it's received well; people seem to understand it. I'm not sure about Denver and Boulder, and I don't know exactly why that is. I guess I don't have my finger on the pulse of American pop needs; I'm very out of touch and I just play what I feel. It seems like some places I go, people understand exactly how I feel, and they feel the same. Other places, I'm speaking a different language. Not that I feel like I'm speaking a different language in Denver or Boulder, but there is something that I'm not getting about the culture.

EJ: This year, you returned again to the Underground Music Showcase in Denver. How was it?

CR: We played UMS and had a great time. We played at the Hi-Dive and had a great show. That gig was right after RL Cole and the Angels and it was awesome. We're playing at the HI-Dive again in November, but I think with Denver we're just kinda strangers there. We haven't played there enough and need to branch out there and play there more often. Slim Cessna's Auto Club can get a great reception there, and I think Denver can understand what we're doing as well.

With Boulder, I feel like we might just be a little too much. I don't know. We're too loud? Or a little too dark? I don't know.

EJ: How do you feel about a higher-profile festival coming to Denver?

CR: What do you mean?

EJ: I mean since UMS started, it's been on a pretty big growth curve — a lot more people coming and a lot more bands applying. Is that a good thing?

CR: Yeah, on a certain level it's awesome because it gives more local bands a chance for exposure, but at a point it turns into what South by Southwest is, and it's got nothing to do with the locals. There's this fine balance, you know. With corporate growth, there's a certain point where it's healthy for the locals, and a certain point where it puts people out of gigs. If the locals can't get in anymore, it's not really a local festival, it's a national festival that takes place locally.

EJ: In a similar vein, you've worked closely with Gregory Alan Isakov and have seen Nathaniel Rateliff kind of blow up. How do you feel about that? Is that going to help or hurt local musicians?

CR: I think it definitely helps local musicians in the sense that now national booking agents and management companies are looking at this region as a pool to draw from. That's great for the rest of us, and it's up to us, the artists, how we choose to relate to that and relate to each other. What Nathaniel Rateliff and Greg were born out of was a very communal effort. In their community, all the local venues, all the musicians, and the local booking agents were really helpful with each other. The result was that a few acts blew up. So, we need to continue that spirit of camaraderie, even with the national spotlight shining in our eyes. A lot of people kind of get blinded, and it turns into dog-eat-dog. Not so helpful. It becomes like little LA or little Nashville. I've lived in both of those places and I don't care to go back.

EJ: Let's talk a bit about Gasoline Lollipops themselves. You guys have a show on the 23rd at The Caribou Room. What can we expect from this show?

CR: I'm really excited about that show. We've spent a long time prepping for this show and promoting it. I see it very symbolically. We're working on our final record (of a trilogy comprising "Dawn," "Death" and "Resurrection"). We're stepping into a whole new arena for us, a whole new level that can be uncomfortable but exciting. The Caribou Room holds 500 people and has a state-of-the-art sound system, it's really kind of a luxury venue. We're stepping out of our dive-bar comfort zone and seeing how this next size up fits. We're hoping to play more venues of this size, but this is sort of our trial run. We'd be deeply grateful to everyone who's gonna come out.

EJ: What is the future for Boulder and Denver music? Where does Gasoline Lollipops fit in?

CR: I think the musicians and the artists need to take back a lot of the power. I feel like since there's been this sort of explosion of attention, the power was grabbed by the wrong folks. It was the venue owners and the ticket salesmen that grabbed power and took credit and said "now everyone start begging me for this Colorado treasure." But it wasn't the venues or the ticket salesmen that made the fucking music; it was the artists, the songwriters. We're the ones who made the music, we're the reason there's a buzz about us, and we need to take back some of the power and recognize that the people come for the music, not the atmosphere or PBR. The people will go where the music is, and if we're getting bum raps from the venue owners — or from the management companies, or whatever — bottom line is that you can throw a house party, people are going to come, and you don't need to pay anybody a percentage of the cover! There are a lot of different ways to do it. We've gone underground before, and we can do it again if that's what it takes to get gigs. There's warehouses, houses, public parks. Yeah, you might get fined and you might get shut down, but that's the heart and soul of punk rock. Even though we might be playing country or Americana, this band was still founded on punk rock, and it's still got a punk rock heart. If I've gotta fuck the Man to please my audience, that's what I'll do. - Colorado Daily

"Gasoline Lollipops At Frozen Dead Guy Days 2015's Blue Ball..."

“The Gas Pops, as they are known by many, are in the midst of a prolific period… Gasoline Lollipops come at alt-folk Americana with an outlaw country aggressiveness that’s rugged, tough and beautiful.” - J. D. Rodgers (Marquee Magazine)

"Gasoline Lollipops, Hard Working Americans, and Chris Robinson Brotherhood Take The Stage At NedFest2015"

"Love edgy alternative rock with the energy of a rockabilly band? These guys have great original rock and roll that will keep you moving and make you want to come back for more! " - NedFest 2015

""Best Musician/Group" in the Colorado Daily's "Colorado University and Boulder's Best 2014" list"

One part rockabilly and one part alternative rock, the Gasoline Lollipops have carved out a space for themselves in the Boulder music scene with a sound and feel that is all their own." - Gasoline Lollipops named "Best Musician/Group" in the Colorado Daily's "Colorado University and Boulder's Best 2014" list - Colorado Daily

"Gasoline Lollipops Release "Dawn""

“[The Gasoline Lollipops’ EP] “Dawn” is filled with seven tracks that wonderfully couple storytelling, Austin-inspired, roots rock and outlaw country… that range from the gentle title track to raucous, gypsy-twinged “The Wire,” to the soaring and heartfelt “Pop’s Song.” -Marquee Magazine - Marquee Magazine


"Dawn" - Gasoline Lollipops -  2012

"Death" - Gasoline Lolipops - 2014



Gasoline Lollipops is a Colorado band that combines the sincerity of dirt-floor folk with the energy and rebelliousness of punk. It's an all-new incarnation of alt-country that’s both high energy and heartfelt, like the American highway's soundtrack. 

The band has been honored to open for some phenomenal national acts, including the Chris Robinson Brotherhood; Lucero; Todd Snider & The Hard Working Americans; Robert Earl Keen; Junior Brown; and Dale Watson. 

In 2016, Westword named Gasoline Lollipops Colorado's Best Country Artist. Both 2014 and 2015 brought multiple awards and accolades to the Gasoline Lollipops, including being selected to play six showcases in Austin during SXSW 2014; getting voted "Best Band - Boulder, CO" in the Colorado Daily's 2014 and 2015 polls; being selected as one of only six bands across Colorado for the highly coveted SpokesBUZZ Emerging Artists Incubator program; and winning the Oskar Blues Battle of the Bands in 2015.

The quartet has also been on the bills of a number of great live music festivals, including NedFest; Bohemian Nights @ New West Fest; UMS Denver; Higher Ground Music Festival; Empire Americana; FoCoMX; BolderBoulder 10K; Boulder Creek Festival; Boulder's Big Hootenanny (A Conscious Alliance event); and Frozen Dead Guy Days.

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