G. Love – Interview

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G. Love

G. Love began playing guitar at age eight and wrote his first song in ninth grade. It was at this time that G. Love, aka Crazy G., aka Garrett, began listening to the hip-hop sounds of Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys. While in high school he began playing on the streets of his hometown by himself and after one year in college he relocated to Boston, playing wherever he could. It was at a Boston bar that he met drummer Jeffrey “The Houseman” Clemens in 1993. G. and Jeff became a duo and were joined a few months later by bassist Jim “Jimi Jazz” Prescott.

The trio signed with Epic Records’ grassroots OKeh label. G. Love & Special Sauce cut their self-titled debut live at Studio 4 in Philadelphia. The album was released in May 1994 and has sold over 350,000 copies in the United States alone.

After touring festivals like Pink Pop in Holland, Glastonbury in England, and Roskilde in Denmark, and playing the H.O.R.D.E. tour alongside Blues Traveler and Black Crowes, they went back into the studio. In September 1995 G. Love & Special Sauce released their second Epic/OKeh album, Coast To Coast Motel. More touring followed with the likes of the Dave Matthews Band.

They released their third album, Yeah It’s That Easy, in October 1997. The next year on the road with Special Sauce included a six-week headlining tour of Europe, as well as two months of US dates supporting Widespread Panic.

With their most mature release to date, Philadelphonic, I was lucky enough to talk to G. Love about what is sure to be the beginning of a long trip around the world. G. promises over two hundred and fifty shows during the next year!

How’s it going?

Great.

You’re on tour now, right?

Yeah. We’re on our way to Vancouver.

Your publicist said you’re going to try to do two hundred and fifty plus shows this coming year.

Yeah. That is my goal, man. I hope I can reach it.

How do you have any time for yourself?

That is for myself. That is what I want to do. That is a goal I set for myself. To give you a hint, we have a new record out right now, so when you have a new record out you end up doing a lot of press and shit. So, as it turns out, I’m doing a lot of press and shit and in-stores. So a lot of the time I have two or three shows a day. I’ll probably do close to forty shows on this tour, and then the next tour will be just as busy. Hopefully the record will continue to progress and take off, therefore we’ll be engaged in many extracurricular activities. And whenever I do a performance for over twenty minutes, that is a show. I mean, you know how it is.

Yeah. So has everyone been asking you about Woodstock?

Yeah. It was cool, but the vibe, as I’m sure you know, was pretty wack. I actually just spoke with my friend who had a food stand there and I asked him if he made it out alive and he was like, ‘Yeah. We didn’t lose money and we made it out of there alive.’ He said, ‘We were like a beacon of light there amongst all of the hooligans.’

(we pause for a minute as G. Love orders a tuna sandwich)

I was checking out philadelphonic.com. Are you connected with that?

Yeah. That is my shit. (laughs)

I was reading some stuff on the site and I read something I heard before but wasn’t going to ask until I saw it on the web site, and that is you used to be known as Crazy G.

Right. That is true. How did you know that?

I heard it a few years ago after I got Yeah, It’s That Easy, but I forgot about it until I read it on your website.

Oh, shit. When I used to play on the street that is the name I gave myself. That was the name I performed under, Crazy G. By the time I made my first record demo called G. Love, Oh Yeah, and that was just acoustic solo stuff, that was the first time I used the name G. Love, when I was nineteen.

Why did you stick with G. Love and not Crazy G.?

My name is Garrett and people always call me G., so my hip-hop name was always G. Love.

What is Project Hype?

Well, that is our street marketing team. It’s for fans that want to take a more active role with the band. It involves putting up flyers; they get a lot of stickers that they can give to their friends. It’s just a propaganda campaign. (laughs) It’s just to spread the word of our music and it’s for the fans that dig our music and want to get more involved. They get a lot of perks, like getting backstage, doing artwork flyers and potentially record covers. It’s just a chance for us to get more involved with our fans.

Do you think your fans are really more like diehards rather than fair weather fans like a lot of bands get?

Yeah. We have a really great group of people that enjoy our music and our vibe. That is why it’s so cool to be on the road.

I was reading some of the posts on the message boards and there was some controversy about a few songs.

Like what?

The first was about the dedication of “Dreamin’ ” to Bradley Nowell from Sublime.

It is dedicated to him.

The other was the track “Friday Night (Hundred Dollar Bill)” where you sound like Slick Rick.

That is done in Slick Rick’s style.

I loved Slick Rick’s disc Great Adventures of Slick Rick.

Yeah, me too. I did an interview with some guy last night and he was like, ‘How did you do that track with Slick Rick?’ And I was like, ‘No, dude, that is me.’ (laughs) It actually just happened on a whim in the studio. I was like, ‘Check out this style.’ And everyone was like, ‘That is so phat.’ And I was like, ‘Are you sure?’ And my producer was like, ‘That is totally fucking hot.’ I kinda actually wish I hadn’t done it like that because some of my boys don’t like that style much, but it’s cool. It makes sense to do it that way because it is a story. And it is a story that could have happened to Slick Rick.

Then the other track was “Rodeo Clowns” and how it was written by Jack Johnson and you sing backup. But I was wondering if you were singing backup or lead with him.

Yeah, we are both singing the lead. That was a friend of a friend and I was looking for a couple of new songs for the record. That song fell in my lap and he was a really big fan of the band. It was like, ‘Let’s do it.’

It’s a good track.

I like it a lot.

Well, I have to say that message board helped me out a lot. No matter how much I researched, I would never know as much as some diehard fans.

Definitely. They are so in tune.

You went from Epic to 550 Music. You stayed with Sony, but was there a reason behind moving over to 550?

Our A&R guy, who signed after our first record, he switched to 550. That is still in the same building, but we didn’t have representation at our label from the most important person, so in turn something was lost along the way with our relationship with our label. So it was time to leave Epic and go to 550 where our A&R guy was. Epic was really great but I’ve never felt this kind of enthusiasm from our fans and from the record label. It is really an incredible time in our lives right now.

I wanted to toss a couple of songs out at you and see what comes to mind. First, “No Turning Back”.

We were in our first session for our record and our bass player was just noodling around and came up with that bassline. I was like, ‘That is the phatest bassline.’ We jammed out on it and I had written some lyrics on the Widespread Panic tour, and I was at the gorge in Washington I went out in the crowd and was hanging out in the parking lot in this drum circle and I was vibing. I saw this girl, and she was this really pretty girl, probably like eighteen or nineteen, and kind of a hippie girl. She was sitting there singing all of these songs about the earth mother and I was like, ‘What is this girl’s trip?’ I didn’t talk to her or anything, but after a couple of days she just stuck in my mind. And the song is about how I imagined her vibe to be. We ended up recording a real rough version of that at our first studio session. It kind of stumped us because it was too raw to be on a record and the way the song was recorded and the drums were played made it impossible to do overdubs over it. And there wasn’t guitar and, since I couldn’t overdub it onto the track, it was too raw. But it was so good that no one wanted to record it again, but our producer actually arranged the song so that it could make the record. It is one of the great songs that we really like to play live off of the record.

What about “Relax”?

That song woke me up. I was the sickest I had ever been in Europe. The tour was going so bad on the music industry side that I was so stressed out and sick and I had to cancel a bunch of shows in Italy. I was shacked up in the hotel alone in Zurick, Switzerland. And you know when you are falling asleep and you have all of these thoughts running through your head? Well, I had all of these voices in my head, like my manager at the time and the record label arguing, and then my voice came right through the middle of it at the same time going, ‘Let’s all just relax.’ I woke up and wrote the whole song.

“Do It For Free”

We were at sound check one day and my drummer was playing this ferocious drumbeat and I had this guitar line that I was playing over the drum line and the back up singer started singing (G. Love begins to sing), ‘Can you do it for free?/ Can you do it for me?’ And I was like, ‘Shit. That was so live.’ Those guys already had a song called “Can You Do It For Free” but we took it and made it into our song. Jeff [Clemens], the drummer, really made it happen in the studio by playing five different drum kits and mixed them up together like a big soup.

What about the shout outs on “Rock and Roll”?

That was a combination of two songs that we play live called “Tonight’s The Night” and “Just Like Trains”. And I wanted to write a phat verse, so I wanted to write a song that said how I got into hip-hop and that was giving shots out to the rappers. We play that shit every night and just kick it.

I was wondering what you hope people come away with when they hear G. Love & Special Sauce?

I hope people can groove to this record when they are driving around or making love. I hope that they can groove to it while they are partying with it and also learn a little about who we are. And maybe they can rock out to some new G. Love & Special Sauce songs. I also hope a lot of people can rock out to it on the radio as well and find out more about us through this record.

+ charlie craine