There are quintessential bands in every genre. Think of classic rock and the Rolling Stones may come to mind . . . begin a discussion about standards and Ella Fitzgerald or Frank Sinatra will stir in your memory. Start to ponder the jam band scene and Tea Leaf Green should be at the forefront of your cortex.
In their 14th year together, this San Francisco based band has been on a seemingly never-ending tour of the country. They are returning to Connecticut to support their latest release, “Looking West”. They will be performing this Wednesday at Daniel Street in Milford Connecticut. Tea Leaf Green is:
Josh Clark – Guitar, Vocals
Trevor Garrod – Keyboards, Vocals
Reed Mathis – Bass, Vocals
Scott Rager – Drums, Percussion
Josh Clark (lead guitar/vocals) took some time out before their sound check at the latest All Good Festival to shed some light on the recording of the latest release, performing and what comes next.
The album is a collection of songs that have been played over the past years live, but never recorded. “We have all these songs that we just have to get rid of. . .we had to get them ‘officially’ recorded so that we could move on with our lives (laughs). . .it was really informal, we had about three days in the studio. We passed it around and (asked each other), ‘what do you want to play?’ We did it in a way that we did three of four takes . . . and didn’t worry about it being perfect, so we could mix this or that from it and sort of Frankenstein it together. We’ve been playing them live for so long, there’s all these different elements that come out during a live show that we wanted to capture . . . but you can’t capture that in a studio in one run. So we were able to say, ‘now try it a completely different way’; so you end up having all the different attitudes and moods that would be in a live show and then we could assemble it in the studio.”
The band returned to the road, and while touring Trevor reproduced the studio sessions, and Reed mixed it between gigs. “He’d mix the song in the van between gigs, and then put it on the stereo . . . it made that tour a lot of fun because there would be fun surprises every day”. The rest of the production for the album became a serious departure from the way most of their albums have been recorded. “We’ve recorded all our previous albums sort of live, really raw. . .we wanted to play with the stuff, make it psychedelic and really trippy. . .I feel like we know how to do it live, so why not stretch out the boundaries a little on the record. There are a lot of effects, like on the vocals.” Another break from the past is that this was produced exclusively by the band, with no outside involvement. “In the past with record labels you have a lot of ‘redo this, change that’; you hire a guy to mix, there’s other ideas, you’re rushed there’s pressure. . .” They would always start by themselves and get their core ideas, but then in order to finalize the record, they would turn to the record company. This time they wanted to be able to make it their own. As a touring band it’s tough to set a few months apart to sit in a studio. “there’s no time for a ‘Physical Graffiti’. This not only drives the recording process, but also the way the songs are written. It happens organically. “Trevor is the primary songwriter, and I’m probably secondary. He’s constantly writing. We live together and that piano fires up at noon and doesn’t stop.” Not only is the record written and produced by the band, but all the other aspects have been developed by the band. . .”from top to bottom is completely self produced. . .I did all the artwork on it, Scotty (drums) did the photography. . .”
Although Josh is an incredible guitarist, his personal focus is art. . .”I went to art school, but guitar is really self taught. . .I kind of like it wild. . .I don’t really consider myself a musician, although I play one on stage. . .to me guitar is an emoting vessel. . .so that I don’t go shoot up the post office” This raw, stripped down attitude also drives the way he goes about his sound. “I have an amp and the guitar. . .I use a distortion pedal and that’s about it. . .within the guitar there are so many sounds that you can make without effects. . .it’s a lot harder to step out from the effects, it’s more of a challenge to express myself directly with the instrument. . .I have a ’68 Gibson 347 which is my main guitar, and a ’66 Firebird. . .I like guitars that are older than me. . .” Other band members share the direct approach. “Reid gets so much out of the techniques he uses on the instrument . . . he plays pretty straight up”
Although their latest studio effort included many post-production effects, the approach on stage is very direct and they try to make each live performance new and fresh. “That’s what keeps it interesting . . . it would feel safe and comfortable to sculpt the perfect set . . .but I have to know that it’s going to be different every night, otherwise I won’t be able to survive. . .we walk off the stage and ignore the parts that we messed up and high five each other on the things that we nailed”
The future will give fans an album of brand new music. It’s been about three years that Reed Mathis has been in the band as their bassist. There are enough basic tracks for a double album already, but they want to take their time. With Reed just settled in, “we want to be able to say, ‘this is our band’ . . . we wanted to get our footing as a new band. . .it’s starting to really feel good now. . . from a communication and a friendship level it’s good. . .the deeper the relationship goes the deeper the music can go. . .” Now that the band has been locked in, they look forward to coming out with an album that is reflective of their new vibe.”‘Looking West’ was a little bit like our ‘Empire Strikes back’, a little dark. . .I feel like the next record is going to be uplifting and positive. . .”
Looking West is an effective bridge between the past and the future. It celebrates the songs that have been a driving force for the live shows, and gives the fans a few sonic surprises in its post production. A new album coming down the pike will introduce fans to the “new band”. With a voracious appetite for the energy of the crowd, one can expect Tea Leaf Green to keep rockin’ on the road and keep satisfying fans with fresh approaches to old favorites and newly minted songs.
Looking West is available on iTunes and direct from the band web site.
For a full gallery of images if Tea Leaf Green and other bands, please visit
The show is this Wednesday at 7 pm at
Daniel Street Club
21 Daniel St., Milford Ct.
Tickets are $18 and are available through
GEG Entertainment presents
Daniel Street Web Site
This is GEG Presents inaugural show at the popular Milford venue followed up two weeks later with GEG Presents Ryan Star with Thriving Ivory at Daniel Street August 5th. GEG Presents will be bringing the best music to the southern CT music scene this summer including The Radiators Boat Cruise on the Annabel Lee out of Stamford on September 4th. For more information on these shows and a full schedule go to www.GEGPresents.com.