Interview with Tea Leaf Green guitarist Josh Clark

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tea leaf green
Tea Leaf Green

Interview by Scott Preston

In June 2010 Tea Leaf Green released Looking West, their first studio album in 2 years. The release is a compilation of road-tested, fan favorite songs that the band has never recorded in the studio. The album marks a new chapter for Tea Leaf Green and represents the artistic and individual growth of the band since their formation more than a decade ago.

In a few short years, these road warriors have built a strong following, consistently filling venues across the country and becoming a warmly received, go-to band on the festival circuit with stand-out performances at Bonnaroo, Wakarusa, 10K Lakes, and The Echo Project, among others. Sharing some of the style and substance of musical contemporaries My Morning Jacket, Wolfmother, and the Raconteurs, Tea Leaf Green conjures the spirit of bands like ’70s Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and The Grateful Dead, taking classic sounds and giving them a present-day polish. Tea Leaf Green reminds us at every turn just how alluring rock ‘n’ roll can be.

Tea Leaf Green will be performing this Friday January 28, 2011 at The 20th Century Theater, 3021 Madison Road, Cincinnati, OH. 9pm show time, $15, Sons of Bill opening.

Be sure to check out Josh’s website – http://joshclarkart.com

Cincy Groove: Tell me about the special show you guys are playing to start your 2011 tour.

Josh Clark: It’s an internet tv show that we are playing tonight to kick off the tour. There will be 20-30 fans in the audience. Not too many people. It will be fun, we will play about 8 songs and then hang out with the fans. We will be playing a bunch of new stuff we have been working on. (check out a video from the performance at the end of the article)

Cincy Groove: I know your most recent record just came out this past June, but are you working on any new material?

Josh Clark: We are finishing up getting the tracks ready to start mixing. We have been throwing around some ideas for a title, but nothing has been decided yet.

Cincy Groove: What did Tea Leaf Green end up doing for NYE?

Josh Clark: We ended up opening for Galactic in New Orleans. It was a lot of fun. We usually are playing our own NYE shows. We end up playing until 2-3 in the morning and the night is pretty much gone. It was a nice change because we had a chance to play and then just hangout and have fun. Trevor and I got to go up and sit in with Galactic for the midnight countdown moment. I don’t see getting the chance again to just hangout on NYE as we are playing most of the time.

Cincy Groove: What were some highlights for the band in 2010?

Josh Clark: Well, surviving (laughing). In 2009 we took some time off and slowed down to rebuild the band and record some new music. So 2010 we really hit it hard and played a lot of shows. It was really a blue collar year, just getting out there in front of the fans and playing music.

Cincy Groove: What led Tea Leaf Green to create their own record label? I see more and more bands are doing the same thing.

Josh Clark: Well, we really started out doing our own thing. They didn’t really have the term “jamband” yet when we started. We were just playing whatever weird music we could come up with. We really had no intention to put our songs on the radio, just to have fun. So it was hard at the time for a record label to know what to do with us. Our first 3 records we self released. When you do it yourself, you keep it honest and you keep the money. You might not be getting promoted through the big machine, but at least you have control over what is happening.

Cincy Groove: Aside from TLG do you get a chance to play with anyone else?

Josh Clark: Yes, I play in a group with myself, Dave Brogan from ALO on drums, and my buddy Sean Leahy. Its called M-80 Mailbox, it has more of a harder rock sound. I’m also playing in a group with Scott Rager (TLG drummer) called The Holdouts. I wrote a bunch of new music for that project.

Cincy Groove: Back in 2009 you talked about the band re-building to certain degree, what led to Reed Mathis joining the band?

Josh Clark: We were already friends with Reed and when the time came to add a new member, he was the first person on our list. At the time we need somebody ASAP, but also needed someone who was a great improviser and he was able to step in and not miss a beat.

Cincy Groove: With Reed joining the band, has it changed the direction of the bands music at all?

Josh Clark: I don’t think the music itself has changed at all, but has matured. We are much more focused than we were in the beginning. We pay a lot more attention to presenting solid songs. We slowly wanted to develop our sound to help tell a story instead of putting together random guitar riffs.

Cincy Groove: Are there any upcoming shows you are excited about?

Josh Clark: I always love playing the big cities, New York, Chicago, Philly. We honestly love playing Cincinnati. We have performed at the 20th Century Theater numerous times and they always treat us very well.

www.tealeafgreen.com

Tea Leaf Green tour dates
01/26 – Columbia, MO – The Blue Note
01/27 – St. Louis, MO – Blueberry Hill
01/28 – Cincinnati, OH – 20th Century Theatre
01/29 – Pittsburgh, PA – Mr. Small’s
01/30 – Buffalo, NY – Tralf Music Hall
02/02 – Charlottesville, VA – Jefferson Theatre
02/03 – Richmond, VA – Alley Katz
02/04 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
02/05 – Philadelphia, PA – World Café Live
02/08 – York, PA – Strand Capitol Performing Arts Center
02/09 – Syracuse, NY – Westcott Theatre
02/10 – Burlington, VT – Higher Ground
02/11 – Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club
02/12 – New York, NY – Highline Ballroom
02/13 – Trevor Garrod Band – New Yor, NY – Living Room
04/14 – Live Oak, FL – Wanee Music Festival
05/27 – Geneva, MN – Bella Madre Music Festival