By Jack Spilberg
G. Love rolled through San Diego last week to debut his new album (entitled The Hustle) and kick off a nationwide tour with Jack Johnson and Donovan Frankenreiter. The Hustle is G. Love’s latest and greatest- a soulful, funky, and raw album G. Love describes as a “stripped down, back to the root of the G. Love and Special Sauce Sound- that front-porch hip-hop blues feel.
I had a chance to catch up with G. Love to talk about surfing, getting onboard with Jack Johnson’s label (Brushfire Records), and the new album.
So when did you start surfing?
I’ve been surfing since I was eight, which is when I started playing guitar.
How did you first meet up with Jack Johnson? Was it through surfing?
Yeah, I did meet him through surfing. We actually met through a mutual friend of ours, Scotty Sowens, he did that Hallowed Ground skate movie. He was an old friend of mine from the Jersey Shore. He got down with the Malloys, and he just brought Jack down to surf one time up at Topanga while I was recording with Philadelphonic Records, and it was cool. After that Jack came down to the studio and started playing one of his songs called “Rodeo Clowns, and I was like, “Ah, that’s great! Play it again, play it again.
I took a demo of it that he had to my producer T-Ray, who did a lot of Cypress Hill stuff and a bunch of old-school hip-hop, and he was feelin’ it and I was feelin’ it, so we decided to ask him if we could cut it. We asked Jack, “Yo, can I cut the song? and he was all, “Well, how about we do it together? So we did, and that was kind of how we got this whole thing started. Since then, of course, Jack’s gotten huge, and he kind of put me on his label now, and that has been a great opportunity for me.
So you and Jack are on tour together now?
Yeah, we’re pretty much full-on hanging, and Donovan’s on tour with us now as well, so we’ve been doing a lot of everything together. I’m on Donovan’s record, and we’re definitely doing a lot of stuff together on this tour.
When you’re not on tour, do you get to surf a lot?
This summer I surfed a whole lot just because I was at the New Jersey Shore and I had some time off before my record dropped. So I was surfing like every day all summer, then I got to go on that Kelly Slater surf trip to Fiji, which was like the trip of a lifetime, and hang out with all the best surfers in the world.
No way, that sounds killer.
It was. During the trip I got to play bass while Perry Ferrell was singing “Jane Says. Yeah, it was pretty heavy, man. He kicked it too- he killed it.
You just started this tour, but have you had a chance to surf while touring in Southern California?
Actually just yesterday we played Santa Barbara, and we went over to Keith Malloy’s house outside Ventura and went for a surf with those guys.
What’s it like touring with musicians who are deeply involved in the surf world?
It’s just funny. I’ve definitely been kicking it with the surfers lately, which is cool because I’ve always been into surfing although music is my life. Surfing is a hobby, but it’s my favorite sport- that and basketball.
Your music style seems to really resonate with surfers.
It’s just interesting that the surf culture is feeling it- it’s a great culture and now it’s kind of blowing up, so it’s cool to be kind of a satellite part of it.
Do you have any other projects in the works?
I have this band, Lottery. It’s kind of like a side project out of Philly that’s basically with me and Chuck Treece. I don’t know if you know Chuck- do you remember remember McRad?
Yeah, for sure. Old-school skateboard guy:
McRad was one of the first skate bands, you know? But Chuck was a pro skateboarder, and he’s a great musician out of Philadelphia. Anyways, that’s something I do when I’m not on the road with Special Sauce or in the studio. Chuck’s a big-time part of skate culture, so that’s just a side note for TransWorld.
So what can your fans expect from your new album, Thhe Hustle?
Well first of all it’s a back to basics record- musically it’s pretty stripped down, get back the root of the G. Love and Special Sauce sound. It’s just a trio- which is Jimmy Jazz on bass, Houseman on drums, and me on guitar and vocals and some harmonica.
How’d you describe what the album’s all about?
I guess the main thing on the record for me is based around the song “The Hustle and the lyrics- everything’s a hustle but love. Every moment you spend trying to get yourself in front of that microphone in front of that stage or in the studio is a hustle- the minute you get there, at that point it’s gotta be about the love, you know? That’s the same kind of thing with competitive skateboarding or anything like that. You gotta rock it and be on top of your game to be in the contest, but once you get there you’ve just gotta let it be about what it is. It’s the same thing with a girl, too- you can spend all your time trying to get her in bed, but when you get her in bed, it’s gotta be about love or else it’s not gonna be good, you know?
Pick up G. Love’s new album, The Hustle, off Brushfire Records (www.brushfirerecords.com). Catch G. Love in a town near you on tour with Jack Johnson and Donavon Frankenreiter through September.