By: Rebecca LaPole
Just before the Gasoline Lollipops played Frozen Dead Guy Days in Nederland and sold out the Blue Ball for the first time in its history, lead singer Clay Rose shared his memories of Fort Collins, which he called, “the best music city in Colorado by far.”
“There are so many venues up here,” Rose said, “so many different sizes for every different level, professionally, as long as what you’re doing is good, original, enthusiastic, heartfelt. It doesn’t matter if you live in town; there’s really an open-door, open-heart policy that makes it stand out.”
The GasPops bring their barn-burning, dance-party rock ‘n’ roll to Swing Station in LaPorte on Friday, March 31, before their FoCoMX set Saturday, April 29 at Hodi’s, where they performed their new album, Resurrection, from front to back last month. Rose has a place in his heart for Fort Collins, as he spent several of his formative years here. He told a couple of great stories, as he does, about his time in the Fort.
“[My wife] Sofia’s family moved there when she was 16, and she went to Poudre High and lived there for like five years. I lived at Laporte and Overland for many years, and wrote “Vanilla Baby” for Sofia while I lived there with her. We used to walk down Laporte toward Horsetooth [Reservoir] and climb to the top of the water tower and scream song lyrics at sleeping Fort Collins. We’d venture to Horsetooth and skinny dip with Jonny [Mouser, former GasPops drummer], when he was only 16, in the middle of the winter at night!”
Back then, Rose was frequenting Fort Collins venues, but not so much as a working musician.
“I was working at Starry Night [coffee shop] and was also a music man who would go to preschools and kindergarten, hand out shaker eggs, wear boggle antennas on my head, and sing ‘This Old Man,’ and I’d teach them Beatles songs.”
The Gasoline Lollipops, whose name Rose dreamed up long before he formed the band, have a sound that would make Johnny Cash and Elvis proud. The lyrics that Rose composes are perfect for a long road trip, a graphic novel, a slow dance, or a heartbroken lover, depending on the song. He pulls his inspiration from wild nights, love, and tragedy in his own life.
“Mary Rose,” from Resurrection, has a very dark back story that Rose revealed during our conversation.
“[It’s] a fantastical dream-world version of a true story. My stepsister, when I was 24, was murdered in North Carolina. She and I grew up together on the Harpeth River in Tennessee. She left behind a son, and I wrote the song for him. He was probably six or seven years old and so I wrote the song hopefully as a tool for him to make sense of death and to put a little bit of beauty on her life and transformation into the next world, and to let him know that she was never really gone.”
The one song on the album that Rose didn’t write is “Hard Times,” which his mother, who lives in the Ozarks of Arkansas, wrote. When asked what she thinks of the rendition, he said, “I think Mama likes it, although the original is a ballad.”
Rose’s plan now includes an effort to “raise money to reprint Dawn and Death [the GasPops’ first two EP’s] and release a box set of all three albums and put them all on vinyl.”
Resurrection, the third album in the Gasoline Lollipops’ “Lucky 7” trilogy, is the first release in the set to include 11 tracks rather than seven. These extra songs are a glimpse into what else Rose has up his sleeve for us in the future.
Catch them here before they blow up:
Hodi’s Half Note at 11 pm for FoCoMx on Saturday, April 29
New Belgium Brewery at 5:30 pm on Friday, May 12
Mishawaka Amphitheatre (Colorado Sound festival) Sunday, August 6