Jos Gonzalez's rise to fame took two major career shifts.
The first involved sidelining his work as a molecular biologist studying DNA reproduction in viruses. The second involved quitting his hardcore rock group, Junip, in order to focus on an acoustic solo career.
"When I released my first album in Sweden and the song 'Crosses' got on TV, that's when I started finding success," Gonzlez says. "And I remember being shocked it was working on that commercial level."
Much like Elliott Smith before him, Gonzlez who was born in Sweden to Argentinean parents has transitioned from garage rock band member to solo acoustic indie rock artist. For five years, Gonzlez played bass in Junip, only to see his group produce a single EP in that span.
This pace left plenty of time for Gonzlez to write for himself, and in 2003, he recorded his debut, Veneer. After earning airplay and critical acclaim, the album was re-released in the U.K., where it reached No. 7 on the charts.
Gonzlez's next album will be released in September.
"All the songs are recorded," he says. "This just gives me time to tour with them a little."
Unlike Smith, who worked with studio musicians following his solo releases, Gonzlez is sticking with his winning formula.
"It's mostly just me," he says. "I'm recording it like last time, but this time I have actual studio space."
Though Gonzlez remains a more obscure cult musician in America, his Nick Drake-like sound has already earned him commercial appeal in Europe.
"The success wasn't something I planned for or thought about," Gonzlez says. "I've been surprised since then."
Centennial Hall, 200 S. Cascade Ave.
Saturday, May 5, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $25; visit ticketweb.com.