Interview and Photos by Scott Preston
G. Love and Special Sauce’s Superhero Brother is their third album for Jack Johnson’s Brushfire label, and 10th overall (counting their 2002 best-of and last year’s live CD/DVD) in a career that now spans 15 years.
It’s been a long, successful run for the Philadelphia native and self-described “hip-hop blues artist,” whose self-titled 1994 Okeh/Epic Records debut was certified Gold on the strength of the MTV hit, “Cold Beverage,” and a non-stop performing ethic that still has them playing more than 150 shows a year. In fact, the group just recently returned from a headline tour in Australia and Europe that was highlighted by some shows with Jack Johnson. Upon their return to the U.S., the band will be headlining their own outdoor amphitheatre tour with John Butler Trio later this summer.
Superhero Brother, recorded in Philadelphia at The Studio and the band’s own Philadelphonic Studios, as well as Longview Farms Barn in Sturbridge, MA, combines both political and party songs. The album is a reflection of the band’s eclectic recipe for its Special Sauce, from tasty, post-hip-hop Beatles-influenced blues-rock (“Communication”), spicy tropical island rhythms over an Archie Bell and the Drells “Tighten Up” groove (“City Livin’”) and well-seasoned Chambers Brothers-style funk-rock crossed with Cream’s “I Feel Free” (“What We Need”) to sweet, blue-eyed Philly soul (“Crumble”), a red-hot Stones-y “Sympathy for the Devil” vibe (“Peace Love and Happiness”) and homemade, rappin’ blues layered on top of a John Lee Hooker Delta stomp (“Superhero Brother”). (source – brushfirerecords.com)
Cincy Groove: How did you recent European tour go?
G Love: It was a lot of fun, I went over there with Jack (Johnson) and we had great crowds every night and good jams on stage. We really got into playing a lot of the new record live, its hitting pretty hard right now which is great.
Cincy Groove: What were you inspired by to write about on the new record “Superhero Brother”?
G Love: I just wanted to make a well rounded record and definitely how I feel about whats going on in the world today, like the war in Iraq and the general state of the union. Thats why you have songs like Superhero Brother and Peace, Love and Happiness.
Cincy Groove: Do you still have a sense of anonymity? Are you able to go out and do things without getting mobbed by fans?
G Love: I’m pretty much in the perfect place right now. I get recognized just enough so my girlfriend thinks I’m cool (laughing), but not enough that it interferes with my family moments with my kid.
Cincy Groove: When did you start playing guitar?
G Love: I started playing guitar when I was 8 years old, it took me about 5 years to figure out how to tune it. I wrote my first tune when I was 15 and that was when I really found that expression. When I turned 16 I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. My two main idols were Bob Dylan and John Hammond. Both of them had recorded their first record by the time they were 20.
Cincy Groove: How many shows do you play in a year?
G Love: I once did up to 250 shows a year. But now I can of have the luxury of scaling that down a bit. I think we do about 100 – 150 shows a year now.
Cincy Groove: How do you feel about how the internet has affected the music industry?
G Love: I have really embraced it. Its funny because I talked about this with some of my friends, most notably Jack White who really hates it. I can see both sides of the argument. We are really lucky to have such great fans who keep us going.
Cincy Groove: I see that this is your 15th year of touring. Do you remember your very first time playing in front of a crowd?
G Love: The first time I played in front of a crowd was a high school talent show. I was playing with a couple friends of mine and we got this amazing response. Its something I will never forget.
G Love & Special Sauce:
G. Love – Vocals / Guitar / Harp
Jimi “Jazz” Prescott – Upright Bass
Jeffery “Houseman” Clemens – Drums / Vocals
Upcoming G Love & Special Sauce tour dates:
For complete show details visit http://www.philadelphonic.com
08.01.08 Stir Cove Council Bluffs, IA
08.02.08 Madison Roots Festival Madison, WI
08.03.08 Lollapalooza Chicago, IL
08.06.08 Egyptian Room Indianapolis, IN
08.07.08 Promowest Pavilion Columbus, OH
08.08.08 Freedom Hill Amphitheater Detroit, MI
08.09.08 Sound Academy Toronto, ONT
08.10.08 High Falls Brewery Rochester, NY
08.13.08 Roseland Ballroom New York, NY
08.14.08 Bank of America Pavilion Boston, MA
08.15.08 Wolftrap Filene Center Vienna, VA
08.16.08 Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing Philadelphia, PA
08.17.08 Pier Six Concert Pavilion Baltimore, MD
08.20.08 House of Blues Myrtle Beach, SC
08.21.08 Koka Booth Amphitheatre Cary, NC
08.22.08 Chastain Park Amphitheatre Atlanta, GA
08.23.08 Pompano Beach Amphitheatre Pompano Beach, FL
08.24.08 Saint Augustine Amphitheatre Saint Augustine, FL
08.26.08 Arkansas Music Pavilion Fayetteville, AR
08.28.08 Pine Mountain Amphitheatre Flagstaff, AZ
08.29.08 The Joint Las Vegas, NV
08.30.08 Hawkins Amphitheatre Reno, NV
08.31.08 Great Meadow at Fort Mason Ctr San Francisco, CA
09.03.08 Malkin Bowl Vancouver, BC
09.05.08 Britt Pavilion Jacksonville, OR
09.06.08 Edgefield Portland, OR
09.07.08 Marymoor Amphitheater Seattle, WA
09.09.08 Wilma Theater Missoula, MT
09.11.08 Red Butte Gardens Salt Lake City, UT
09.12.08 Red Rocks Amphitheatre Morrison, CO
09.13.08 Telluride Blues & Brews Festival Telluride, CO
09.17.08 Greek Theatre Los Angeles, CA
09.19.08 Santa Barbara Bowl Santa Barbara, CA