Interview with G. Love
It’s hard not to gush about one of our favorite musicians. G. Love has been representing Philadelphia for two decades with his infectious sound. Impossible to pigeon hole into even many sub-genres of music, we can simply say that his blues and hip-hop infused tunes are as unique as they are catchy.
The man has produced numerous hits and albums, worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry, and traveled the world, playing for fans around the globe.
This Friday he will return to his hometown to play at sold-out show at the Theater of the Living Arts and he took some time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about making music, summer living, time travel, and all things Philly.
Independent Philly: What projects are you currently working on, either as a solo artist or with Special Sauce?
G. Love: Right now we are kind of working on, as a band, a new record, the writing of it. I should say I’ve been writing a lot this past year and we’re gearing up to record the new record in the spring time. A lot of our focus right now is on making sure that the new tunes are really great. So yeah, we’re just getting all the arrangements really tight and everything really hooked up and ready to go.
IP: Your show in Philly this Friday is sold out yet again. Do the hometown shows still have a special feeling for you?
GL: I live up in Boston these days so I honestly don’t get to Philly too much unless I’m playing or going to the studio so it’s really awesome to hear that the show is sold out. We’re playing the TLA (Theater of the Living Arts) which is kind of a return to my old stomping grounds since I grew up right here in the neighborhood. I used to play on the street right across from the TLA and a lot of my songs are written about things that happened right there, right around the corner from the TLA. You know, about the basketball courts at Segar Park and Starr Garden, you know, just livin’ right there in the city. When I play internationally they kind of understand what I’m doing musically, but it’s kind of written for Americans, you know, it’s very American. Then I feel like when I’m traveling in America everyone kind of understands what I’m talking about but when I play in Philly, everyone knows exactly what I’m talking about. Know what I mean?
IP: I do. I grew up in Philly myself which leads to my next question… What’s your connection to 6525 Parkline Drive?
GL: Oh that verse was by one of my old rapping partners, The Katman, that’s where he grew up, that was just the address of his parent’s house in Mt. Airy.
IP: From album names, to lyrics, to video images, to tattoos, you seem to have a fascination with Lemonade, what can you tell us about it?
GL: I don’t know, it’s just one of those things where, lyrically, I always liked the word “lemonade” and what it represented. I would always pitch “lemonade” as a track or song and I said if I ever got a record deal I would get “lemonade” tattooed on my arm, which I did, up at South Street Tattoo at 11th & South. To me it always just kind of represented the front porch and those lazy summer days and that was kind of what my music always, I used to write a lot of my music actually sitting on the front porch in the summertime. That’s what I like to do is sit out with my guitar, in the shade or in the sunshine, but I like to sit outside. That’s a good day for me if I can sit outside and strum away on my guitar all afternoon. So the “lemonade” thing just kind of symbolized the blues and those front porch days in the summertime, and just kind of a different way of looking at life, and it was all kind of just summarized in that drink (laughs).
IP: We’d love to get your personal views on Philly… Who do you think currently makes the best Cheesesteak in Philadelphia?
GL: Tony Lukes is bangin’. I grew up eating Jim’s Steaks. There’s also a great place down off of Delaware Ave, it’s called John’s Roast Pork, it’s a little mom-and-pop spot. I think as far of the bigger places that really do well, Tony Lukes is pretty amazing.
IP: Which Philly sports team do you think is the closest to winning a championship?
GL: Now? How are the Flyers going to be? I don’t know man, maybe the Sixers. I mean I know they won’t win it this year but they’ll probably make the playoffs. Eagles… looks like we’re going to be rebuilding for a few years now, and I don’t really follow baseball. Although the Phillies have been doing pretty good lately, aside from last year. I guess we’re really just kind of up shit’s creek with the Philadelphia sports scene. It’s a tough sports town because it’s such a huge sports town with such die-hard fans, and you just grow up your whole life bleeding green and watching the Sixers. I’m more of an Eagles fan and Sixers fan really but of course I root for the Flyers and Phillies…and the Fever… do you remember them? That was our soccer team. We have mad love for our sports teams, especially the Eagles and it’s very tough to be a fan.
IP: What do you think is the best concert venue to play in Philly?
GL: I’ve played everywhere from the Tin Angel to Citizen’s Bank Park. Honestly the TLA really is one of the great classic rooms in Philly, I’m happy to be going back there. In the summer we’ve been playing a lot of outdoor shows at Festival Pier and played outside in the parking lot at Electric Factory so those are cool. Electric Factory, of course that’s a classic room but it can also been sonically challenging. Actually I would say that my favorite rooms in Philly are some of the medium sized rooms like the TLA, or some of the smaller clubs I came up playing, whether it was Dobbs or the Khyber Pass, or the Tin Angel like I said. The thing about Philadelphia which is so great is that there are a lot of venues, a lot of small or medium sized venues and that’s why it’s got a pretty vibrant music scene because there are places for people to play like Johnny Brendas. Not just because I’m playing it, but I’ll say the TLA.
IP: Who is the best unknown or under-known Philly performer or singer that deserve more attention?
GL: The person that always jumps to mind, and I’ve been such a long-term fan of his, and cohort of his, and he’s just a legend in the Philly music scene, I’m talking about Chuck Treece. He’s played with everybody and I kind of came up, when I was kid just really looking up to him and as I got better and more well known I got to play with him and he was in my band for a little while. He’s kind a a cornerstone to the hip-hop side of the music and also the punk rock scene. Chuck Treece.
IP: If we have our calculations correct you turned 40 a few months ago…
GL: Yeah it’s true.
IP: If you could go back in time 20 years and see yourself, what advice would you pass along?
GL: If I could go back 20 years? That’s a good question. Wow, 20 years ago, what would I say? My girlfriend says “don’t spend all my money”. On the financial side I’d say “buy a house in Fishtown” cause we rented a house in Fishtown for like seven years, I could have made a ton of loot if I’d bought something down there. The other thing would have been, on a musical level, cause 20 years ago we were getting ready to make our first record, I would have said “You know what, work that first record for one more year, and take more time making your second record”. (laughs)
IP: You’ve worked with a slew of other musicians, a few that come to mind are Slightly Stoopid, Jack Johnson, and the Avett Brothers. Who is another artist that you’d love to work with that you haven’t before?
GL: It’s funny because I really have gotten the chance to work with a lot of musicians and that’s really one of the best parts of my gig, is getting to collaborate with so many kinds of people, whether it’s people I grew up listening to or people that have grown up listening to me. I don’t know man, I’ve worked with so many people. I’d love the chance to get to do some recording with Jack White, I think that’d be pretty awesome. We’ve talked about it a couple times. I think maybe someday we’ll get to do some work in the studio. That would be someone I’d like to do something with.
IP: What’s the secret ingredient that makes the sauce so special?
GL: Lotta love.
IP: Tell us something that would surprise or even shock our readers…
GL: If the Eagles were to win the Super Bowl.
We can’t wait to catch G. Love & Special Sauce when they roll into the TLA on Friday. We hope to see you there Philly!