In just four years, Gloriana have gone from a trio playing bars to a quartet opening for Taylor Swift -- and suddenly back to a trio trying to recapture their career momentum.
"For our first album, the songs were written in 2007," says Tom Gossin during the band's recent visit to CMT. "So if we could look at our lives in 2007 and look at our lives now, pretty much everything around us has changed. I don't think we've changed as people or who we are, but prior to that, we hadn't traveled much and hadn't done much but play in bars. We had a lot to say for this record. It's like a documentary about what's been going on with us."
Making a powerful introduction in early 2009, Gloriana's early success led to a gold single for "Wild at Heart," a world tour with Swift and trophies at the ACM Awards, the American Music Awards and the CMT Music Awards. Then in July, mandolin player and vocalist Cheyenne Kimball announced on Twitter that she left the band -- without even telling her bandmates first.
After Kimball's surprising departure, the remaining members -- Gossin, his brother Mike Gossin and Rachel Reinert -- forged ahead and reworked their upcoming album, A Thousand Miles Left Behind, as a trio. In this interview, they tell fans about the "organic" new project, the sexy video for "Wanna Take You Home" and their strong family connection.
What do you remember the most about making the video for "Wanna Take You Home"?
Mike: The weather. It was about 100-plus degrees that day, but we had so much fun making this video. What we really wanted to accomplish with this song was to get back to that party-esque kind of vibe that we had with "Wild at Heart" but a little bit newer and different this time.
Rachel: A little bit more grown up.
Tom:There were adult beverages this time.
There were more than just adult beverages in this one. Tom, what did you think when you saw the treatment?
Tom: When I found out I got to have a couple of solo scenes with the lead girl ...
Rachel: You were kind of freaking out there!
Tom: I was freaking out a little bit! We filmed for two days. The first day was the party, and the second day was me and the girl back in the apartment scene. It was very awkward. I get now what everybody means when they talk about filming love scenes in front of the whole crew. It's very, very awkward.
I dig the banjo in that song. Why do you think that fits so well?
Mike: Tom wrote this song on acoustic guitar, and I had picked up the ganjo [a banjo with a six-string guitar neck] on tour and had been playing it a bunch. One of our good friends helps tech for Keith Urban, and I had seen them use one a bunch. I thought it was so cool, so I wanted to incorporate that into the song. I'd been playing it on the road and loved the element and the vibe that it brings -- rather than having two acoustic guitars playing.
Rachel, you mentioned the new, grown-up sound. For fans who enjoyed that first record, what can they expect from the one that's coming up?
Rachel: They can expect Gloriana in the whole form of us all having our own vocal moments and also coming together with our signature harmony sound. But for this record, we set out to make a more organic-sounding record. .... The songs are very reflective of our lives over the last four years together as a band and a lot of our own experiences. To give you an example, when we started this band, I was 18 years old. So there's a lot of growing up to be had. I think they'll see there's been an evolving process for us.
For fans who are curious about Cheyenne's departure, what can you tell them?
Tom: You know, it was sudden, and it came at a bad time. But the three of us are so committed to what we do and to our fans, that there was no question whether or not we were going to continue on. The band actually started in 2007 with just the three of us, and we played the better part of our first year as a three-piece. It's been really fun to get back to that rootsy thing for us. I think it's brought the three of us closer.
So there's no plan to bring on a fourth member?
Tom: No. We kept the option open for a while, but we've been touring for the last two months as just the three of us, and we're really loving the way it sounds. We repurposed the record with just the three of us, and we really love the way it sounds. So I think we're going to go with it.
Has there been any contact with Cheyenne since she left?
Tom: No contact, no. I wish we had juicy stuff to tell you.
For fans who come to the show now, what can they expect?
Mike: I think we've learned a lot on the road. It's been an amazing four years for us. We're growing, like these guys said. Our show is constantly evolving. I feel like the musicianship is getting better and better as we go. You know, we've tweaked some stuff here and there, musically. It's exciting to see us mature, if you take a step away from it. We still stay true to Gloriana and what we were when we started, but I feel like there are some new elements to it.
Rachel, do you feel like you've known these guys your whole life now?
Rachel: Yeah. You spend every single day for four years together, and you get to know each other very well. That's also why it was very difficult when Cheyenne left. It was a very emotional thing for us. ... But we are really, truly like a big family. I feel like we're connected now more than ever, especially with everything we've experienced together and gone through together. We're like a team, you know? These guys are like my brothers.