Someone said that to me once, that what our music does to her; she said our music makes her feel like herself. And that was one of the biggest compliments I've ever received.

-Adam Stephens

Two Gallants by Charlie Villyard

Adam Stephens by Misha Vladamirskiy
This sense of ragged purity and absolute dedication to their music is a defining aspect to what makes the Gallants so special. What began as two friends making noise in their parents' basement slowly grew into pick-up gigs at the bus station, to shows in the park to art galleries to bars. Maybe it's the fact that things have grown so naturally since the band formed in 2002, maybe it's just who they are, but there's no mistaking the fact that Adam and Tyson are void of the ego issues that plague many bands with half their talent. Throughout our conversation, not to mention the ten or so times I've seen them perform, there's never even a glimpse of pretentiousness. If anything, they are a bit self-conscious, maybe even a wee bit self-loathing, but never in that whining, cry-baby bullshit manner, more in a world-weary, "I've seen too much to smile" kinda way. Regardless of how or why, I still can't get over how grounded these two are. Here they are standing square in their mid-twenties, and they've already managed to tour all over America and Europe and to play at festivals like Leeds and Redding in the UK, High Sierra in California and SXSW in Austin. They are receiving press in every major outlet and have just released their sophomore album, What The Toll Tells through Conor Oberst's (Bright Eyes) seminal indie label Saddle Creek, yet they refuse to even realize their current worth or address their future prospects. Adam says, "I think all we really want – and this isn't necessarily even our ambition or intention – but I think something that we both enjoy, or makes us feel validated in what we do, is when people actually take something away from a show that we play. When something about our music resonates in them, I think that's the most powerful thing about art - when you read something or hear something or see something that is so profoundly personal. It's something you've always thought but never knew that you thought. Like I remember the first time I read Walden by Thoreau; it was like every other line in that [made me think], 'Yes, of course. I completely agree with this, I've just never really thought about it before.' It was just like over and over again. Someone said that to me once, about what our music does to her. She said our music makes her feel like herself, and that was one of the biggest compliments I've ever received."

Tyson Vogel by Dave Vann
The concept of seeing oneself in another's art, or having certain music resonate within, has certainly helped propel Two Gallants into the rising tide of stardom. Their songs have a lived-in quality that people connect with. There's something so familiar about the message, calling heroes of folk, devils of the Delta, and misfits of punk and grunge to mind, yet it never sounds stolen, borrowed, or contrived. It's unique and original, but it has touch-stones in our collective memory. It even incorporates aspects of literature and history - just consider the fact that they took their name from a 1905 James Joyce story. But don't start thinking the music is stuffy or high-brow; it's blue-collar genius, not book-worm. Two Gallants craft ruthless murder ballads and tales of despair with beaten wives, runaways, rail riders, drunks, and prostitutes. They sing of hard lives and lost nights. It's often difficult to swallow, and if you're really paying attention, it can force a tear to gather in the corner of your eye.

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