Philly Meets Philly – Interview with G. Love
Garrett “G. Love” Dutton and Monty “Moe Train” Wiradilaga
Lollapalooza – Chicago, Illinois
Moe’s Intro: When you think about Philadelphia, you think about a few things… Philly Cheesesteaks, the Eagles, the Flyers, the Phillies… And when you think about music from Philly, you think about G. Love.
Moe Train’s Tracks Podcast had the chance to sit down with G. Love backstage at Lollapalooza in Chicago, Illinois, where we talked about his music… the advent of the “hip-hop blues,” the Summer Haze Tour with Slightly Stoopid, G. Love & Special Sauce, and Ozomatli, and even a bit about Philly.
Make sure you check out the Summer Haze Tour when they hit your area! So here’s the Moe Train’s Tracks interview with G. Love at Lollapalooza…
Moe: G… What’s up, man? How ya doing? I’m Moe. Nice to meet you.
G. Love: Hey, how you doin’ man? Yeah, how ya doing man?
Moe: Philly meets Philly!
G: Woo! You from Philly?
Moe: Yeah man. Well… From the ‘burbs.
G: Right on.
Moe: Definitely been listening to your music for a long time…
Moe: It’s finally good to meet you. Got your new DVD out right? What, it was released this week right?
G: Yup, it just came out. It’s called A Year and A Night with G. Love and Special Sauce. It’s really cool. It’s definitely like an in depth look at the band on the run, you know, like a band on the grind. ‘Cause we’ve been grinding it out for like fourteen years so…
Moe: You’re always touring right?
G: Yeah. We do like 150 to 250 shows a year. And so that’s a lot of time in the bus, and as we did eight years in a van to start out, so definitely…
Moe: A bus is nice!
G: Yeah. A bus is great! I’ve definitely seen this whole country, man.
Moe: Yeah. I’m really noticing a progression in your music, but than again, recently it seems like you’re going almost back to your roots. Tell me about the beginning of G. Love and the “hip-hop blues.”
G: Okay. You know, I grew up listening to hip-hop, just like any other kid. You know, like, the Beastie Boys, and L.L. Cool J, Run DMC and you know like a whole lot of other stuff too. And I was like, grew up in Philly, which had a pretty strong hip-hop culture so… You know, we were getting into trouble and like writing graffiti, and break dancing, and skateboarding, and doing all this kinda like city stuff and, playin’ basketball. So that was like one side of me. And the other side of me was I had played acoustic guitar since I was like eight years old. I got really into the blues, the Delta Blues, when I was in high school. I was always kinda searching for something original, and when I found the Delta Blues that was like, no other kid in my high school was playing the Delta Blues. I had something that, you know, was making me stand out from the crowd, which I think is like really important you know. Now basically one night, I was a street musician, and I was just shuckin’ on the guitar, and I started rappin’ Eric B. and Rakim… Paid In Full…
Moe: Paid In Full!? (Laughs) There ya go!
G.: Yeah… (Laughs) And I was like, ‘Oh that was something.’ And then I wrote my first rhyme like that week and then I was like ‘Okay, you know, I can do this,’ and I felt like, you know, it was real. It was like a real expression for me. Also at the time, the early nineties, like that was kinda when hip-hop was like at it’s peak, you know, like the late eighties, early nineties, so that was what I was listening to.
Moe: Right. Well, you play a lot of improvised chords don’t you? Lots of blues chords, not the real standard chords…
G: I basically got a lot of my chords from… I would try to learn like a Lightning Hopkins record, or Muddy Waters, or Robert Johnson, or whoever blues, you know. There wasn’t like you could Google ‘Robert Johnson Tablature,’ when I was in high school, so you had to learn that shit off the record. (Laughs) Yo, you don’t know what tuning he’s in, so got to make up these weird chords to try to find the sound that he’s getting! So, I had all these weird chords so, I’d always make these chords and then I just be like ‘Oh that’s cool.’ Then I’d make a song with them ya know.
Moe: Well, you’re saying you’re always performing… Do you think the live performance is the way to hear your music?
G: Yeah, I mean, definitely. You know, we love playin’ live and that’s what it’s always been about for us, you know, and being in front of people and…
Moe: Your albums are recorded a lot live aren’t they?
G: Yeah, well, what we do, we record in the studio live, you know. You can get something different on a record than you can get live, it’s all about what you like to, you know like, certainly there’s nothing that beats… Oh, Slightly Stoopid’s just going on…
G: Nothing beats, but you know like, but you know there’s also nothin’… To me, I’d rather listen to a record than a live recording.
G: Except my new live recording which comes with my DVD!
Moe: That’s right. (Laughs) Explain ‘Everything’s a hustle.’ I heard you say that one time, you said that ‘everything is a hustle.’ That’s definitely Philly-style, the streets… You used to play a lot on South Street didn’t you?
Moe: I remember that. I think I saw you actually a couple times, yeah.
Moe: Yeah… Explain ‘Everything’s a hustle.’
G: You know, I mean, it might not be the most positive outlook on life, but I mean, you know, like I think people are in inheritably selfish you know. So, it’s like, you gotta hustle for everything you get. And you gotta realize that people most likely wanna get something outta you, so, you know, you gotta make sure you don’t get hustled. And everything’s a hustle, like whether it’s the music business, or your job, to get a job… It’s a hustle to practice your guitar and get good enough to play, but you gotta hustle to get that gig, man! You know, and then once you get on stage you gotta let it be about the music, but the music business is all about the hustle you know. And then everything’s a hustle but love. When it’s real love, you know, and neither party’s trying to get up on each other. It could be love for music, or love for a person, or whatever you know what I’m sayin’.
Moe: Right… Well that seems like the mentality of independent music these days.
Moe: People… They’re taking back the power from the labels and doing their own thing… More so, I guess it’s a hustle to take back that power.
Moe: The question is…Pat’s, Gino’s, Jim’s, or a big ol’ slice of Lorenzo’s pizza?
G: Jim’s and a slice of Lorenzo’s pizza.
Moe: Wiz or without? Or “witout?” (Side Note: There IS a proper way to order a Philly Cheesesteak.) Excuse me…
G: Well, no… I get provolone. Provolone, onions, hot peppers on the side, baby!
Moe: (Laughs) What the hell is going on with Philly sports these days?
Moe: Are we ever gonna win something? Is McNabb gonna stay healthy?
G: I don’t know I just…
Moe: Ryan Howard gonna do something?
G: I don’t know. We’ll see what happens. But I just moved up to Boston ’cause my kids up there and they just got Kevin Garnett and I’m like… We just got rid of A.I.! (Allen Iverson) (Laughs)
Moe: My co-host said to say to you that he ‘loves your music but Charles Barkley doesn’t beat Larry Bird.’ (Laughs)
G: (Laughs) No, but we said that Charles Barkley dissed Larry Bird.
Moe: Oh, okay.
G: It’s basically like, well Dr. J and Charles Barkley are the, I mean Dr. J and Larry Bird had the fist fight. But I think at the time Charles Barkley dissed Larry Bird somehow on microphone… I don’t know… I don’t know what he did! (Laughs)
Moe: All right, one last thing. You always give love to Philly…
Moe: How’s Philly been treating you?
G: Well, you know, Philly’s like a hard-love. Philly has hard-love. They show kinda hard-love I think, but you know that’s where I was born and raised, and that’s where my studio is, and I still live there part-time, and Philly’s a great city. Philly shows its love, man! We sold-out two Electric Factory shows last year.
Moe: There ya go!
G: And this summer we’re doing the Festival Pier (In Philadelphia). So, I gotta say, it’s still one of our best cities to play, and you know, it always means a lot to come home.
Moe: We’ll be bringing a crew to the festival pier to see you guys.
G: Ok, cool!
Moe: And good luck on your tour.
Moe: We’ll see you then…
G: Cool… All right…
Moe: Thanks a lot… Appreciate it, man.
G: Cool, man, appreciate it.