Tea Leaf Green: ‘A democratic sort of band’
When you’re a band that’s been rocking a jam-based musical party for more than two decades, a comfortable democracy emerges that gives everyone a voice.
“It’s a pretty loose operation, a very democratic sort of band,” said Trevor Garrod, keys and vocals for Tea Leaf Green. “We’ve been together for a long time, and we’ve got a lot of songs and are pretty good at throwing down and having a good time.”
Tea Leaf Green will play The Barkley Ballrom with opening act We’s Us tonight.
“We’ve played in Vail a ton of times over the years, which is not that far,” Garrod said. “We’ve never actually played in Frisco. We’ve eaten breakfast there a bunch of times. … We love the Log Cabin; we’ve probably eaten there at least 10 times over the years.”
Thin air, direct sound
Garrod said the band is ready for its return to the mountains.
“It’s just really beautiful to get up there this time of year,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the scene up in the mountains. Right now, I’m in Oakland, an industrial sort of wasteland; it’s enlightening to my soul to get up there. The air is thin, and the sound is direct.”
Tea Leaf Green put out a new record last month called “In the Wake,” which was more than a year in the making and recorded at Coyote Hearing in Oakland. The 13-track album features appearances by Dan Lebowitz (ALO), Leslie Helpert, the Jazz Mafia Horns and others.
“Everything’s new in the band right now,” Garrod said. “We’ve got a whole new set of music we are getting excited to play and explore. We recorded songs we’ve never played before live, so we’re seeing how they unfold in real life outside of the studio.
“We really kind of went and took advantage of the studio and tried to experiment with different sounds and get ourselves out of our normal habits of how we play on everything. We would show up one at a time and think about the songs and think about what we needed, not really what we had. We’re trying to translate what we did in the studio to our live show. It can be challenging for us at times, but I think it’s worth it for the audience because they get to watch us discover it for the first time ourselves.”
On the road
Garrod said the band travels so much that he doesn’t have a fixed address at this point.
“I’ve been on the road for 10 years, and at this point, I feel like that’s more my home than wherever I end up,” he said. “It can be disorienting and exhausting, but it’s always an adventure. I like being able to wake up in the morning and truly not know what’s going to happen; anything can happen.
“I think a lot of people if they have a day-to-day job that they go to, they wake up in the morning and you know exactly what’s going to happen that day. Living on the road is a constant act of improvisation.”
But Garrod said one day he’d like to settle down.
“It’s fun for now, but you kind of get introspective sometimes and you think, ‘Am I going to survive this much longer?’ It’s taxing, and I fantasize about having a farm and making pickles and having goats. … I want to grow some kale and beets and that kind of stuff.”
For now, Tea Leaf Green will stick to touring, making music and captivating audiences.
“Expect a lot of dancing and some good times, some songs, maybe a couple of tears if we’re lucky,” Garrod said. “We do a lot of improve on stage, so it’s a ritual of joy, if you will.”
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