80/35 band Tea Leaf Green’s festival philosophy
Published on July 2nd, 2013 | by Joe Lawler
For fans, music festivals are multiple days of musical bliss. Bands don’t always get to take in all the sights and sounds, but the right festival can be a little reunion for touring bands.
“There’s nothing better to me than parking the car, getting out for four days and just watching music and drinking cold beer. I can’t imagine a more fun situation,” said Josh Clark, guitarist and vocalist for the San Francisco jam band Tea Leaf Green. “But when you’re playing a festival, sometimes you just drive in and drive out. It’s like visiting the Disneyland parking lot.”
“So if we can’t spend a lot of time, it’s more about the hang,” Clark said. “We get to see all our friends who are always on the road. Normally we’re kind of ships passing in the night. Music festivals are the one place we can catch up and hang with our comrades on the road.”
Music venues are also kind of an unusual venue for a jam band. A band that might normally play for three hours has to condense its show to an hour. Clark said the members of Tea Leaf Green are split between wanting to do a set that’s a greatest hits-style selection of songs, or more obscure B-sides to reward fans. The end result for TLG is usually a merger of the two ideas.
Clark said Tea Leaf Green used to see recording records as a means to an end of promoting the band. They were usually done with very little time, rushing into the studio, banging out the tunes and returning to the road. It wasn’t until 2010’s “Looking West” that the band started to achieve what it really wanted from its records.
“We shifted our focus to try to make that best record we can, not an imprint of what our live show is like,” Clark said. “We wanted to make records that were individual pieces of art that stood alone. After ‘Raise Up the Tent’ we started doing that.”
Last fall Tea Leaf Green ran a Kickstarter campaign to fund its eighth album, “In the Wake.” It was the band’s first time recording songs it had never played live before. Due to the way the songs were recorded, the band didn’t perform many of the songs until it was practicing for live shows.
“There was no end goal on how it would sound, so listening to the finished songs was kind of like unwrapping presents on Christmas morning,” Clark said. “I don’t think I was so nervous about planning a show since we first started in ’99. Would anyone like it? It was pretty exhilarating. Things got better as we took them out on the road to expand and tweak and play with them. The songs are still growing, which is the best part about being in a band like this. There’s no cage, it’s total freedom.”
Tea Leaf Green
See them: 5 p.m. Friday on the Main Stage