Jesse Valenzuela is calling from California, where he literally has his hands full.
A founding member and guitarist for the Gin Blossoms, Valenzuela is busy moving laundry from the washer to the dryer. The group is on the eve of a tour, for which he is hurriedly packing and preparing.
Originally, they were supposed to leave a day later, but a gig at a private party in Las Vegas came up at the last minute, and they took it.
Such is the latter-day life of a band that vaulted to popularity in the 1990s with a run of a half-dozen indelible hits. They are all relentlessly driving, hook-filled songs you still hear played on radio today, including “Hey Jealousy” and “Follow You Down.”
Based on the public’s enduring fondness for those hits, the Gin Blossoms have been able to maintain a steady workload well into the 21st century.
They will perform at the White Oak Amphitheatre next Wednesday with Collective Soul and Drivin’ n’ Cryin’.
Four of the five musicians who played on “New Miserable Experience” — the Gin Blossoms’ hit-packed, million-selling album from 1992 — are still in the band. Only the drummer has changed in all those years.
How does Valenzuela explain their longevity?
“Well, we’re lucky, and no one wanted to get a real job,” he offers wryly. “And here we are, 30 years later.”
On the Gin Blossoms’ official website, Valenzuela elaborated on the fact that youthful tempers have given way to adult tolerances with the passing of the years: “There’s a certain civility among us now. None of us are as brusque as we once were. We’re too old to have shouting matches.”
He chuckles when I cite this line. “Sometimes we don’t speak to each other, but rarely do we speak brusquely,” he says.
In conversation, Valenzuela comes across as bemusedly indifferent to it all, with a droll cynicism borne of his many years in the music business. At the same time he seems genuinely grateful for the opportunity to play music for a living, and the Gin Blossoms are certainly keeping busy.
“We’re playing a lot this year,” says Valenzuela. “I mean, we’re playing 120 shows this year. And it’s not just this year. It’s been 30 years. This is a working band. If you’re a working musician and an artist and this is your medium, there’s really no other alternative. What else would you do?”
The Gin Blossoms aren’t just banking on past glories, either. Last year, they released an album of all-new material, entitled “Mixed Reality.” It’s a strong record that demonstrates their creative juices are still flowing.
Valenzuela also has a number of solo releases, one of which has a title — “Tunes Young People Will Enjoy” — that offers a window into his humorous world view.
The group formed in their hometown of Tempe, Ariz. They played their first gig as the Gin Blossoms in 1987, although Valenzuela says the origins of the band “are probably closer to 1984 or 1985.”
“It’s funny, because I was talking to Bill (Leen, the group’s bassist) on the bus about this just last year, and we could clearly remember a couple of years even before our official start.”
The Gin Blossoms are noted for their “jangle pop” sound, with its roots in the styles of the Byrds, R.E.M. and Tom Petty. They even include that phrase in their own bio.
Valenzuela deflects a compliment about his chiming, arpeggiated style of guitar playing with typically wry self-deprecation.
“I’m kind of sick of that sound,” he says, laughing. “You know, you make a living doing this, but then you think, 30 years later, ‘God, that just takes up so much oxygen. Why do I do that?’ But people seem to enjoy it.”
He learned his Byrdsy guitar licks straight from the source, studying Roger McGuinn’s guitar playing on Byrds records that a guitar-playing neighbor turned him onto growing up.
“When I was 12 or 13, there was a kid down the street who was really good,” recalls Valenzuela. “And he was playing like Roger McGuinn, so that’s how I learned how to play it.”
Valenzuela says he is looking forward to coming to Greensboro not just to play music, but to play golf.
He is an aficionado of the game, and outside of music, it is his favorite pastime. He’s well aware of the annual tournament played here — originally the Greater Greensboro Open, now the Wyndham Championship — and hopes to work in a round or two on a local course.
Will he be joined by any of his bandmates?
“No! It’s a time to get away from each other,” Valenzuela says with a laugh.
“I’ve been playing for a long, long time,” he adds on a more serious note. “In the summertime, it’s a big thrill for me to take my clubs, go to a place like Greensboro, find a fantastic golf course and hang out all day long.”