G. Love on G. Love

For the article in this week’s print edition, click here. Following is the complete Q&A with Philadelphia-based musician G. Love.

Mountain Xpress: You’re currently on tour. Where are you today?
G. love: We’re in Tempe, Arizona.

I’ve been following you online and on Twitter. It seems like you’re always jumping on a plane and heading to the next destination.
(From G. Love’s Twitter account: “Airport dilemma – first flight on united cancelled. Moved to American- 2nd leg cancelled moved to usair- now nashville or bust. snowin in dc;” “here’s something nice about the Redeye- Sleeeeeeeeep – def not looking forward to waking up at 8—- uuugggh”)
I am always on the run, like even when I’m not on tour I’m doing a lot of other musical traveling for recording sessions and other things. I am always on the run. But I love it. I love traveling. It’s hard to be away from my kid.

You recently posted on Twitter that your new record will be your best yet (the tweet: “Jamming by the swamp in Sanibel, Fla on a sunny day. Working up this new record. I’m saying its gonna be the best”). Can you talk about the album?
I’ve been doing … we’re really trying to be methodical about this release. We really want to have a great record. I want to get back to the roots of what I do and do it better than I’ve ever one it before so the new album is going to be really strongly hip-hop and really strongly Delta blues. And a lot of just great songs so right now we’re doing it methodically. There’s a three-step approach. The first step is doing song writing and pre preproduction. Of course, I write a lot on my own. Since Superhero Brother came out I’ve written about 40 tunes and I’ve done probably another 15 with different songwriters.

(The tweets: ” Laying down harp on the new ‘Better Things’ demo with @paulsimm at the Dining Room table;” “Just layed down the demo of the new track ‘Ball and Chain’ with @mrciscoadler awwww yeah;” “Working on a new tune called ‘Bad Habit’ ha this ones gOod. Me have bad habits?? Naaaah;” “Working on a new joint called ‘I aint Finished Yet’ with @paulsimm- one time is never enough- awww yeah its all about breaking the record”)

G. Love and Paul Simm, from TwitPics

We’re in the pre-production stage of picking out the best songs, Just this week we delivered the fist batch of what we feel is the strongest material to the record label. We’ll pick out what we want to record. A lot of times I’ll go in the studio with 40 tunes and we’ll cut whatever we’re feeling or what seems to be clicking and that’s a good way to do it, too, but this time we really want to kind of know exactly what we want to cut and have a lot of the stuff we’re going to cut somewhat recorded. I’m doing a lot of hip-hop style recording so a lot of the beats and instrumentation will already be done and I’ll go in the studio and really bang out the killin’ performances on what we have. Song writing is the first step, picking the producer is the next step and then recording the record. We’re kind of at one-and-a-half steps right now. I hope that by the end of May, June we’ll have the record done and then it’s up to whether it comes out in August or in the winter. I hope it’s done by the end of the summer because it’s nice to have stuff out there for the peeps. You know, good stuff that people can connect with for the live shows, but at the same time we don’t want to rush it.

Since you perform so many live shows, do you test drive new songs one your live audience before you record it?
We’re constantly — the band and myself — we always have new stuff going so we’re always dropping whatever is our freshest, newest stuff live. Because, as a musician, your favorite song is always the newest one. So we love to play our new stuff. Of curse that gives an indication of what should make the record. You know, this song might sound good recorded, but will it go over live? It’s got to be able to move the crowd. We like to be able to bust out a lot of new tunes live. But it gets harder the more records you come out with, the more material want to see, expect to see and really are paying to see when you play a show. Our fans are really into music and into what we do so I think they’re really gracious in the way they’ll let us play whatever we’re feeling. They just want to come out and feel good. If we’re feelin’ good and inspired then they’re gonna feel good and inspired, so we have the best fans like that. But at the same time you want to make sure that you get to all those songs that people know and love and have been a part of their life. Cause that’s really what it is. You’re making all this music and it’s a beautiful thing. Whether it’s a fun song or a serious song it’s the sound track of people’s lives [laughs]. You only play an hour and half to two hours a night so you can’t play everything. That’s been the hardest challenge for me is what to play and what not to play.

Tour poster by Jimmy Herciuk

Are there songs you get sick of playing?
Honestly, you can believe me or not, but I love to play all of our tunes. There’s always a part of me as a musician — you put out a record and you have a single you you should or kinda have to play it every night — that sometimes irks me. Especially back in the day it used to irk the shit out of me. I didn’t give a f*uck what was a single because that was something I recorded last year. All these radio stations would have me on promoting the tour and I’d play some blues song I just learned to play or some song I wrote last night. Nowadays I still do that but I’m also more cognisant of the fact that there’s a reason people think this song is a single. It’s the one playing on the radio, so it’s the one people come to see so you should definitely play it live. And all the old tunes and the classics we’ve been playing for many many years, we always come up with new ways to make them fresh for us and fresh for people who’ve seen 10 G. Love shows. We try to keep it fresh.

You seem to use many forms of social media. Do you enjoy it?
I do like it. When MySpace first came out I was really into getting on there and seeing who was coming to check us out. And then I started doing the blogs and I really found that as a good creative outlet for me as a writer. Not to write a song but to write a letter about how I was feeling about what I was doing. And then Twitter came out and I really liked that even better and I kind of slacked off on my blogs and my manager had to keep reminding me, alright, you need to do a blog. I’m like, damn, man! I really do enjoy Twitter… I don’t know, it’s just cool to be able to interact with people and it’s so immediate. Then I moved to the video blogs where every Thursday I do a little… [called The 12:07 Video Blog] that’s a challenge. You want to do something that’s cool every week and sometimes you just don’t know what. I did that one where I was out on a run a couple weeks ago or I did that one where I was showing people how to play harmonica. The whole thing about the social media is I know some artists don’t like it at all. They think it’s too much exposure and it kills the mystique. Some artists like myself get really into it and interact with their fans a lot. I wonder if I do too much. I decided today I would do [a video blog] where me and my guitar tech go through our arsenal on the road. I thought that would be really cool.

You should do a food/travel show since you tweet so often about food
My manager was like, you need to pick something that you want to do your twitter about, not just ‘I’m sitting on the patio.’ You know that commercial? (laughs.) I was like, alright, I’ll do food.

(The tweets: “Macking down the best burger in town at Diablo Burger in Flagstaff. Awww yeah;” “For a good slamwhich in LA go to Potatoe Chip on Beverly;”
“With the left over roast she made a roast beef, arugula, reggiano and gravy sandwhich. Mmmmmm”)

“Macking down the smoked salmon tacos at #ruddells smokehouse on the beach at Cayucos Beach. Slamming” from TwitPic

That’s something that in my personal life and in my family, we’re foodies. My mom was a chef, my uncle was a chef, my sister works in the wine business. You know, me and my girl love to cook. It’s something that’s a part of our life, blah blah blah. Also, I tried to have a cooking show. We almost had a cooking show on the travel channel or something like that. We made a pilot and everything [see video clip, below].

Actually I just did my first cooking show in a while when I was at home making beef stew. I put it up on my YouTube channel. It was terribly edited, but it was still fun. I’m going to do more of those and get the editing a little tighter. So I do [tweets] around the food stuff. I think some people get it and some people could give a f*ck. But I do that and then some random stuff.

(The tweet: “When there’s a line for the mens room and no line for the ladies room the ladies start busting flomax jokes as they walk by”)

You try and not play yourself out. That’s the thing — you have your self as a musician and you’re a person who makes music and writes these songs and people react to them and connect with them and that’s why they like you. Now all of a sudden you throw your personality in there. Some body might like my music but they might not like my personality, you know? That’s the thing you have to run the rick of. “Gee, I really like G. Love but his twitter shit’s wack and now I don’t think he’s so cool anymore.” I wish I was as cool as Snoop Dogg or something. That’s my goal. I’ll be as cool as Snoop Dogg and then I’ll be cool.

Speaking of cool, did you really surf with Anthony Kiedis and Jimmy Buffett on new Year’s Day?
(The tweet: “Feeling mellow and positive on the first day of 2010. I jammed my guitar and then surfed with Jimmy Buffett and Anthony Keidis on a nice point”)

I swear to God, yeah, I did. We were in St. Barts as a guest of Savannah Buffet, Jimmy’s daughter. We stay at their house and I’ve gotten to know Jimmy a bunch through his daughter and we’ve played with them. He’s a great guy and a good role model for me as far as his whole career and everything. It was cool — we went to this crazy party on new Year’s Eve. It was like written up on Perez Hilton, this party we were at. A lot of movie stars like Orlando Bloom and Jason Statham were there. So right when the ball dropped me and my girlfriend were dancing and making out and right next to us was Jimmy Buffet, Anthony Keidis with his date, Orlano Bloom with Miranda Kerr, Jason Statham and all these other crazy people. I was like, Holy shit I’m not in Philly anymore!

“Phresh out from getting slotted (and beat up!) At Il Porto. Surf is definitely up. Holy shit” from TwitPic

The next day we’re out surfing. It was near the end of the day and I look over and there’s Anthony Kiedis sitting next to me. I was out surfing with Jimmy Buffet and Anthony paddled out. It was funny cause I had one of those awkward moments. Of course I’m a big fan of the Chili Peppers. What do you say to these guys? I don’t know. What you need to say is, ‘Hey man, I’m a huge fan or your music and I’m also a musician and I wanted to introduce myself.’ But for Anthony Kiedis, I was just out there in the water having an anxiety attack. ‘Man, here’s right there. He’s just 10 feet away. It’s just me and him in the water.’ I was like, ‘Hey man, what’s up?’ And I go, ‘Little wave out here today.’ He goes, ‘What?’ I go, ‘Nice little wave out here today.’ He goes, ‘Yeah, there is a wave.’ I go, ‘Yeah, cool man.’ We talked about surfing a little, but I didn’t say ‘Hey, I’m G. Love.’ It was stupid, I felt like a kid. I get so start struck.

G. Love with Jack Johnson

The more I’ve been in the game, the more interesting people I meet out there doing the same thing. You meet movie stars and everything and you feel like you know them because you watch them in the movies, but you don’t know them. Another funny one recently, I was out in L.A. and there was this star-studded open mic karako with this killer live band playing. Tyson form the All American Rejects got up and sang, like, a Pixies song. The girl from the Pussy Cat Dolls sang Led Zeppelin. The talent was amazing — to see these great artists do these cover songs. Jeremy Piven was there was he was like, ‘G, man, I’m getting us up there. I’m going to play drums.’ I’m having an anxiety attack. I’m like, ‘F*ck no I’m not going up there after seeing these people killin’ it. I couldn’t for the life of me think of a cover tune I knew that I just had down. Of course afterwards I was like, ‘I could’ve done this or this or this.’ But Jeremy Piven got up on drums and we did one of my tunes — we did ‘Can’t Go Back to Jersey.’ We killed it, it was awesome. Shit like that happens and you’re like. God my life is awesome.

“Playing JERSEY last nite with @jeremypiven on drums! Siiick saw so many great singers at live karaoke nite” from TwitPic

You also do a lot of collaborations. Do you set those up, or are you just in the right place at the right time?
(The tweets: “Hot Damn- I just heard my harmonica blazing on True Blood s2 ep3 the ‘I got the Power’ song @Kingbritt remix of Sister Gertrude Morgan.Dope!;” “Well, I gotta tell you- I just laid down some harp on 2 of Jack Johnsons new tunes and I’m saying -his new record is gonna be his best 1 yet”)

All the collaborations, that comes from the same kind of situations. You’re out, you meet people. Zap Mama: A cat I used to play with in Philly just one or two gigs on a side project, he was in her band and I got to meet Zap after her show. We stayed in contact and then she came and sat in with us when we were on tour with Jack. Then she said would I do a song on her record.

“Chilling with Marie aka @zap_mama between shoots. Its a classic” from TwitPic

When you do the collaborations I find it always brings something great out of you because you want to step it up for the person you’re rocking it with. It’s often times a really spontaneous songwriting experience. Those are all people I’ve gotten to be friends with. At a lot of festivals you meet people. Almost all of that happens at the festivals. That’s where you get to intereact with the bands that are your peers and you respect and admire and love. You get to meet those guys and you’re like, ‘Damn, I really liked his music but God he’s an a**hole.’ Or it’s just the opposite, like, ‘God, I didn’t like his music but what a nice guy.’ [Laughs.] At the end of the day people are people and every body’s mostly a nice guy.

G. Love & Special Sauce perform at The Orange Peel on Wednesday, March 17. Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad opens. 9 p.m., $25.

—Alli Marshall, A&E reporter

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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