Drummer Adam Perry reflects on his decision to leave the band, and what’s on the horizon.
The Gasoline Lollipops have been a fixture in Colorado music for over six years. What began as a bar band became a group that can sell out the Fox Theater, open Red Rocks, get on the bill of some of the state’s most popular festivals, and have their name recognized all across the state. This meteoric rise wasn’t a passive one, though.
Clay Rose’s songwriting was always too immense for the bars and breweries that gave the band their break, so their rise was always imminent. However, those who follow the band closely will notice that their rise to popularity happened right around the time their drummer Adam Perry joined back in 2016. The two met in a music class at Naropa University and became fast friends, which eventually led to Perry stepping behind the kit.
“I agreed to play some shows with the band until they found someone else. But in the middle of one of those shows, I had a moment where I realized, ‘Why would I not do this?’ So, it kind of took off, and we started playing all the time,” Perry says. “I did what I always do when I play in a band: I think about how it could grow, and how we could be on the radio. It was a bar band at the time, but the music [was much more than that]. Clay is an incredible songwriter, and it shouldn’t [have stayed] at [that] level. I started booking shows, contacting press, and getting us on the radio.”
Perry’s skills at working with press, booking, and promoting the band was the driving factor behind the band’s acceleration over the last two years. He helped turn a bar band with a performance that far outweighed their counterparts into a household name throughout the Front Range.
“Adam pushed us to a level where we were getting statewide recognition, and a lot of people knew our name. Booking agents started talking to us, but we weren’t really chomping on the bait, because as long as Adam was with us, we didn’t really need one,” says Clay Rose, the band’s frontman.
Two years later, Perry has decided to leave the band. Citing his desire to spend more time with his family, focus more on work, and generally have less on his plate, his departure is completely amicable.
“Beyond music, Adam has been our manager. He’s built the railroads that we’ve been travelling on,” Rose says.
The amount of responsibility Perry took on- serving as the band’s drummer while also behind the wheel of all the bells and whistles it takes to keep a band relevant and in the public eye- was a lot, and what ultimately motivated his decision to leave the band.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to build railroads while you’re also on the train,” he says.
In addition to his duties with the band, Perry works at a law firm in Boulder, has an eight-year-old daughter, writes for Westword, and is an avid cyclist.
“I’m really embracing those things right now. It’s a great way to feel calm and still,” he says.
While the band has cultivated new friendships, connections, and a list of accomplishments that many musicians are never able to cross off their list, this sense of calm and stillness is something that’s often missing in his life.
“When we were on tour in Europe [in 2017], I was having a bit of a nervous breakdown. I realized that I can’t do this and everything in my life well if I’m putting it all into the band. But it’s nice that it’s an amicable split this time around,” he said, alluding to the musical fallouts he’s seen multiple times throughout his career.
Perry has been playing in bands since he was 16. Growing up in Pittsburgh, PA, music has been at the center of his life since the beginning, and as he’s gotten older, it’s remained important, but he’s ready to re-center and set his sights elsewhere.
“My only education in music was through punk rock in high school, so my form of drumming is very primitive and loud. I was playing in clubs and bars when I was 16, and it was just about how fast and hard you could play,” he says.
His background in punk-rock shines through loud and clear. His presence on the songs is pummelling and thunderous, giving the band a density that most alt-country and rock acts have a hard time capturing.
Perry’s other notable project in Colorado was The Yawpers, a band he helped form in the aughts. After his time with that band came to an end, his plan was to turn his back on playing music entirely. But meeting Rose and stumbling upon the magic of the Gasoline Lollipops changed his mind.
“I left The Yawpers in 2012 and told myself I’d never do the band thing again.” he says.
Perry’s decision to leave the Gasoline Lollipops comes six months after the band released Soul Mine, their fourth album. The record came from a band with a long history, but it carries the pent up energy and polishing of their raucous, gritty, and often sweeping blend of alt-country and rock‘n’roll that renders it more similar to a crashing, bombastic debut than an album from a band with steady footing.
“I didn’t know how to push a band [before Adam joined]. You have to have an interesting story or a project to pitch to press, and he showed me how to do that and lit a fire under me as far as making [Soul Mine]”, Rose says.
Perry speaks of Rose with similar fondness of his role in the band, and the opportunities he’s granted them.
“With Clay, there isn’t a wall between him and his songs. Every other band I’ve been in, what the singer/songwriter is writing aims to portray something. I don’t think Clay could do that if he tried,” he says.
Perry’s last show with the band is their headlining show at The Bluebird on May 18th. With support from RL Cole & The Hell You Say and Grayson County Burn Ban, the night will be a celebration of where the Gasoline Lollipops have been, and where they’re headed from here on out.
Rose wants to dedicate his time to other projects at the moment as well, so it could be a year or two before we get another GasPops album, but until then, the band is just as alive as ever. They recently opened for The Tallest Man On Earth at Bluebird Music Festival, and they’re on the bill to play Grandoozy this September, sharing the stage with Kendrick Lamar, Sturgill Simpson, and St. Vincent, among other high profile acts. This is where the band was headed from the beginning, and they couldn’t have done it without Perry.
“Eventually, we might’ve reached the point we’re at now, but without Adam, it would’ve taken a really long time. This is where I always wanted to be, but I had no idea how to get here,” Rose says.
There’s a lot on the horizon for The Gasoline Lollipops in wake of Perry leaving. Whatever it ends up being, Rose assured me that it’ll take on a new sound.
“[Our new music is] going to sound a lot different. I’ve always had a definite direction where [my music] is heading, but I never see it until the last minute. It’ll definitely be more psychedelic and dreamy,” he says.
Here’s to a new beginning for the band, in lieu of a departure. Get tickets for GasPops Bluebird show here.
All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.