G. Love

Silent Uproar: Starting with the title of the album, The Hustle, can you tell me a little bit about the meaning behind it or where the title came from?

G. Love: Well it kinda came down to two things. This is a new record deal for us, and when we were looking for a new record deal after separating from Sony, we did a lot of meetings with the labels. We came out of one of them and my manager was like, man, if we get a record deal it is because we hustled it. I was like, that’s it! That’s the name of the record, The Hustle.

This other time I was talking to a producer, and we were talking about how we had both been through a separation with the mother of our children and just the whole issue of custody and support, and we were like, man, it’s such a hustle. Even a relationship or a love affair is a hustle now because you get hustled. He said yeah, but you can’t look at it like that. He said,”Everything’s a hustle but love.”

So that was it, him just saying that kinda correlated to music. In the music business it’s the same thing. Everything you do to get on stage or behind the mic in the studio is a hustle up to that moment, because it’s such a game, you know. Then the minute you get that opportunity to be on stage or getting behind that mic, at that point you have to take it from being a hustle to bringing out that music, which is why you are there in the first place. So the hustle won’t go to tape; it just gets you to be able to record.

SU: So has signing with a more independent label and being on a label run by a friend made things easier for the business side of it?

G. Love: Yeah, you know doing business with friends can be tricky sometimes, but in the greater scheme of things, it has been a wonderful opportunity. My A&R guy now is Jack Johnson, who is not only a good friend but a wonderful musician and fan of my music. So here is a guy I trust, and I trust in the music he makes and the music he loves. So for the first time in 5,6,7 years, my A&R guy is telling me, “Don’t worry about a hit or anything else, I like your Bluesiest, rawist, front-porchiest, funkiest, dirtiest, shit and so just go in with your band, cut live, be yourself, and just let it all hang out.” So that is what we did.

SU: It sounds like if you hadn’t been able to make this switch away from Sony that you may have not been able to make a record like this.

G. Love: I don’t know, I mean after we separated from Sony, I was kinda confused as to what direction to go, and I spent the last 3 years since we made Electric Mile experimenting with all different producers. First we did something with the dude Marshal from the Long Beach Dub Allstars, then T-Ray, then some hip-hop guys like Prince Paul, we did a lot of acoustic stuff over some hip-hop beats with him. I was having some cool stuff going with them, and I had a new band called Lottery, which was just a two-piece with drums and guitar, and then we did a Special Sauce session. I just did the whole run of the gamut as to what G Love was going to sound like next.

It was cool because at the end of it when we signed with Jack, they were just like, “What are you talking about? We want you to play with your band.” By then I had gone to so many different sessions that they ended up being pre-production, which I had never really done. So it just worked out. For this record it was so long in the coming that I really had time to work through a lot of songs and let the cream rise to the top, you know.

SU: (As G. Love’s son talks in the background…) Has having a kid affected your approach to your musical career?

G. Love: Since I had my son I definitely don’t go on the road quite as much, but it kinda correlated with where I was at with my career. We have blanketed the US so much that we don’t want to over-saturate it. So it was a good time to ease back the touring a little bit.

On a more spiritual or mental level, since I had my son I have definitely felt more focused. Since I was spending so much time on him and not on myself, I stopped beating myself up so much, and all of a sudden I realized, hey I am a good person. I don’t have to feel bad about having success as a musician. I used to feel guilty because so many better people have not made it, and I did, so I felt bad for my friends. I felt bad being a white kid rapper or playing the blues, just all this weird guilt shit. Finally I was like, dude its all good, I’m OK. Having a family just makes you focus on taking care of your kid, and then you realize what’s important. It’s like, I am who I am, and I have every right to do my music and express myself in the way that I feel like I should. I think it just put me in a great place, and I think it has definitely affected my music in a very positive way.

SU: What is the best thing about being a musician?

G. Love – The best part about being a musician is getting to do what you love, and hopefully that’s enough. Then hopefully you can make enough money to support yourself, and then hopefully you can make enough money to live comfortably, and then hopefully you can wind up being on MTV cribs. I am the point where I make enough money to live comfortably and get to see the whole world. Of course, all the perks that come with being a musician are great. Free beer, chicken, and girls. What more could you want?

SU: If you were a chef coming up with your own "special sauce," what would be in it?

G. Love: Well, just off the top of my head I think I would make some kind of lemon ricotta sauce. One of the things I am trying to do is you know how a lot of the rappers have their own kind of liquor or whatever? Well I am going to do G. Love’s Lemonade One. That is one thing I am working on as a side project right now, and this tour we are going to be selling our Special Hot Sauce…

SU: What is it about this album that makes it different from your last records?

G. Love: I think it has the most continuity of a record that I have put out in a long time. We basically recorded the whole record in 10 days, and there are one or two songs from a separate session that I think fit in real well. So that, and I think everyone’s musicianship has gotten to a different level.

I think this record has some of the best song performances like on “Astronaut” and “Don’t Drop It” and best bass performances on “Astronaut” again and “Stone Me.” And some of the best vocal performances for me on “Don’t Drop It” and “Stone Me” and “Astronaut.” It definitely has the best live harmonica playing from me on “Don’t Drop It,” and it is done on a harmonica rack, so there was no cheating.

So it is a pretty straight-up record and shows people our skills as musicians and as live musicians. I am pretty proud to be at the level where we can throw down, not only on the stage, but also in the studio. What we do is so unique and funky that there is really no other band out there that can do what we do. Not to say that we are the best band, but we do something that no one else does. Kinda cool, you know?

SU: I see you are getting ready to go on tour with Jack Johnson as well. Beyond the working relationship, do you think the tour is a good fit? Will his fans be into your sound and vice versa?

G. Love: Yeah, we are kinda the black sheep of the tour, we call ourselves the bad boys of Brushfire [Records]. Donavon’s [Frankenreiter] and Jack’s music are pretty much all acoustic, so we are definitely a little more up-tempo or harder edge than those bands. We kinda stick out a little bit, but I think it makes a good show. The set order is Donavon, then us, then Jack, so it will be a nice thing to kinda wake people up and get people ready to ease on back to Jack’s set. We have been out with Jack before, and it kinda makes for a really awesome jam.

It is going to be a lot of fun, and we are all really good friends. I am sure we will do a lot of surfing and hanging out, and I know those guys are going to have their kids out there. It is going to be a really nice atmosphere, and I think it is going to be one of the hottest tours this summer, with Lollapalooza falling apart and everything. The tour is already sold out and has been sold out for a while, so Jack is just killing it.

SU: You just recently played at the X-games, right? How was that?

G. Love – That was awesome man. We played right after the big air competition, and I got to do some guest commentating and it was fun. We also got to hang out at the surf contest, and I just got back from this surf trip in Fiji for Reef Check, which is like an environmental organization. So yeah it was cool because I got to know all the best surfers in the world. I have been surfing since I was a kid, and it is cool to be friends with all these guys. Even though I am in entertainment, I am kind of easily star struck, so I have been hanging out with Kelly Slater all weekend and doing everything I can not to come home and brag to all my surfing buddies about it. I think I am starting to get on everyone’s nerves though.

It’s just funny. I do what I do, so I don’t think it is any big deal, but for me when I get to hang out with someone like Kelly Slater, it is just an honor to hang out with someone like that who has taken it to the top level. I have stayed in Philadelphia the whole time of my career, so even though I have been around my share of stars, by not being in LA or New York, I have kinda “kept it real” in terms of who I hang out with. So it is interesting to meet new people and have them be like, “Wow, I love your music,” and I am like, “What? Quit lying.”

SU: What material thing can you not live without?

G. Love – My guitar.

SU: I know you have a live scene in the upcoming movie Cellular, how did that happen?

G. Love: Just one of those things. You hang out long enough, and people ask you to do weird shit every once in a while. Actually, we almost got it through a friend of a friend actually, but yeah it was just one of those things that came out of nowhere, and we were like, yeah we’ll do it. So they flew us out and put us up in a fancy hotel, and we got to be on the movie screen. It’s funny; it is the first time I got a line in a movie.

I have actually done some auditions to try and get some parts, but this is the first thing we have gotten. We were playing, so as I finish, my line was like, “Thank you, you’re the best, LA we love you!” Then they have this paid crowd there to cheer for us after our lip-synched performance, and I am so hyped up in the thing that I think this crowd is real, and this crowd is the most hyped crowd I have ever played for. So after our song the crowd is going off and is all these hot babes in bikinis, and I am just like, “Ahhhhhhh!” and the director is going “Line, Line, G. Love, Line.” And I’m like oh yeah, “Thank you, you’re the best, LA we love you!” It’s so funny, I almost missed my first line, but it was cool man.

SU: You have spoke of wanting to do a solo acoustic album, do you see this coming out down the road, like maybe after you tour on this album some?

G. Love: Actually, that is happening next week because Jack and his manager are doing another surf movie, and they wanted me to do a couple acoustic tunes with it. I have been playing all summer on the front porch, just sitting around after my kid went to sleep. I’ve been playing my grandfather’s old Oahu Hawaiian steel guitar, and I have been just taking that and playing some open tunings and just kicking all these old blues songs out. I have a week off when my son goes back to his mom, so I am going to go in and do 3 recording projects. One of those is a day of solo, and then a Sublime track for the Sublime tribute record, on which I am going to do the song “Greatest Hits,” and then a song for this ESPN show called The Season. So I am going to try and bang out a couple things in the studio next week before I hit the road.

SU: Over the years you have done a ton of interviews and talks with the press. What is one thing you are surprised that no one has ever asked?

G. Love: Who my dream date would be.

SU: So you know what my next question is, right?

G. Love: I know, but I am not saying anything because I think it would be corny if I did get a date, and she read it; then it would kind of make me look like a jerk.

SU: Fair enough. If you have to place your career on a musical life timeline with one end being just getting started and the other end being ready to throw in the towel, where would you fit?

G. Love: I would say if it is a four part story, then I just finished the first part, and I am starting part #2. This is a new record deal, and I have been doing it for 10 years, so I know we are in a place where we can do this thing for our whole lives at some level. I know I will be doing it my whole life. So I say we are at part number two, which is the Brushfire Experience.

Aug 11 2004