TEA LEAF GREEN: LIVING THE DREAM

 
I think at this point people expect us to extend the songs. You gotta have the jam. I need to explode and have my head popped off of my shoulders and rolling on the floor before I'm satisfied.
-Josh Clark
 
Photo by Dave Vann

If there is anything unique that may separate Tea Leaf Green from the jam pack, beyond their own skilled take on the extended improvisation, it is in their songs. Keyboardist and primary lyricist Trevor Garrod is the perfect complement for Josh Clark's rock star styling. Trevor is a true poet, rootsy and real, writing timeless songs of love and lost love, the joys and hardships of traveling the open country, lessons of life, death, war, peace, and the space of things in between. Drawing influence from folk legends like Bob Dylan, Woodie Guthrie, and Neil Young, Trevor's headstrong repertoire of material lacks any cheesy undertones or required rhyming structured prose. Growing up on a vineyard and horse farm in Northern California, Trevor confidently sings of more rustic ideals, like letting our hair grow long and staying up past the dawn. His lyrics powerfully proclaim Tea Leaf Green to be not just another typical rock band, but a group of musicians with a message to spread, evoking senses and emotions and giving the audience something real to hold onto beyond the peaks of musical glory.

When the discussion turns toward Trevor Josh smiles and reflects:


Tea Leaf Green by Dave Vann
"Trevor has been a tremendous musical influence on me, maybe the most musically influential person in my life. Since we started this band, I've learned tons from him in regards to structure and staying focused and not just making compositions for the sake of composing things. His philosophy is largely about things being where they belong and making sense in that way. He's a stickler for the rules, and I'm a stickler for breaking the rules. At the same time, I try to pull things in a different direction where they might not always be traditional or normal or right or proper just for the sake of 'Why not?' What's fun about being creative is doing what you want to do regardless of how it's supposed to be done."

"Trevor primarily writes most of the lyrics and has painted this huge world of realism – he's a realism painter. It's about real life and earthbound things. Sometimes he'll go out there, but songs like 'Harvest Time' and songs about relationships like 'Don't Let It Down' and 'Don't Be Down,' they're all firmly planted on the ground. There are a lot of flights of whimsy like the 'Garden Series' we've been putting together. There are really a lot of different places you can go within our catalog of music, lyrically speaking."


Trevor Garrod :: TLG by Susan J. Weiand
"A large part of pop lyrics and writing lyrics for pop music is you're looking to identify and relate to the adolescent or pre-adolescent, and maybe with our music, which can be poppy here and there, but for the most part, we're trying to relate to as many people as we can. To everyone. We're not specifically thinking that this was going to please a thirteen year-old girl."

"Every song has got a different message. Hopefully it's positive in the end. Hopefully it's not as much of a message but trying to get people to think a little bit and enjoy that aspect of moving your body and thinking at the same time. Feeling too. Moving, thinking and feeling."

Moving and feeling in his own unique way, bassist Ben Chambers adds yet another character to the mix of Tea Leaf Green. As an outspoken advocate and funky stylist, Ben's own personality and stage presence add both humor and panache to the Tea Leaf Green arsenal. Often taking on several nicknames such as "Franz," "Milky Chambers," "The Skillet," "The Weed," or "De Cron C," Ben can often be seen bopping along in tune with many of the stage-front fans. Emerging from his cage for an occasional rap on herbal nutrition or to question the sobering decisions of his musical forefather, Snoop Dog, Ben has a way of keeping things smooth and fluid in Tea Leaf world.

In regards to the rhythm section, Josh says:


Ben Chambers :: TLG by Josh Miller
"I think that Ben's bass playing has evolved by leaps and bounds. You can listen to all these bass players, then you can listen to Ben C for about three songs and know who's playing that bass. I don't know what it is about him; he has a very mysterious style – amazing style. He has a distinct voice on an instrument that is known for playing the support for the other instruments, which he does in a great way. He's always been a great foundation, but he also has something to say too while he's playing and reaching and trying new things and experimenting and he's willing to go out there and constantly changing with different things going on. Ben C and Scotty have come a long way together."


Scotty Rager :: TLG by Dave Vann
"Scotty (Rager) is the rock. He's a rock drummer. He loves rock & roll straight up, and he loves straight up rock & roll. That's been his primary driving force - to rock the shit out of those drums, which is also what's most fun for me coincidentally, so it works out great. None of us are the flashiest of players, and I think at this point we know each other well enough and we're comfortable with that. We don't know if it's necessarily good, but we know it sounds like us."

Growing up in Los Angeles, Scott Rager initially cut his chops drumming on the Sunset Strip selling out the Whisky A Go Go and The Roxy with his brother Chris in a band called Salty Onion. Scotty and Josh had been lifelong friends since they were five years old living in the LA suburbs, and after Salty Onion broke up, Josh and Scotty started practicing together.

Josh smiles as he thinks back to his youth:

"We would set up all our gear in the attic of Scott's dad's carpet shop after business hours and practice with all our friends and have jam sessions all night long for our entire senior year in high school. It was inspired by the free-form jamming we were listening to at the time, and also Snoop Dogg. We'd just get up there and goof off for hours and hours and hours and be creative and silly and stupid, and we would record it all. It wasn't for anyone else but ourselves and a time for us to have our space to hang out in during high school."

Scott moved up to San Francisco in 1996 where he fortuitously met Ben while attending San Francisco State University, and the two began playing music together. After a little while, they brought up Josh from LA to get a new band together.


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