Christie Ots caught up with Garrett Dutton, lead vocalist for G. Love and Special Sauce, to discuss their latest album, returning for Bluesfest 2015 and which Aussie performer he loves the most.
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Having been on vacation in Byron Bay twice, played numerous times and heading back to our shores for the Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015, it seems to me that G. Love loves our most famous surfing town. Agreeing he says, ”This is our fifth year playing Bluesfest, I think the first time was 1998, so we’ve almost been playing for twenty years. I keep coming back so clearly there is something I love!”
Having released their latest album Sugar in April after a five year hiatus as a band the guys have been very busy this year touring ceaselessly.
“We’ve toured through winter and summer, and the one thing you learn is that you can never predict how it will go,” he said. “We were a little upset because it initially looked like this summer was going to be quiet and then it ended up being one of the busiest summers I’ve had in ten years! The first three months of winter led up to the release of Sugar and celebrating the twenty year anniversary of our debut album. The first show we did was that album from start to finish, and then we launched into some new songs. “
Having both Jeffrey Clemens (drums) and Jim Prescott (bass) back for the anniversary of In The King’s Court was a welcome homecoming for the trio and G. Love tells me it was the first time in twenty years that they stuck to a set list.
“We have never done that,” he said. “It was cool to do the same show over and over again; you really get into the nuances of the songs. The summer we toured with Slightly Stoopid and Stephen Marley, did a solo acoustic tour and a blues tour with Keb Mo – it was amazing.”
I bring up the fact that this album did see Prescott returning, after an extended hiatus from the band and G. Love explains, “Jim had been out of the band for about five years and we hadn’t spoken. Our side guy/front of house guy/producer/tour manager, he’s like the honorary fourth member of the band, got married and I ran into Jim at the wedding. I asked him if he would ever want to come back on the road, and he said he wouldn’t but he would be keen to come in for some recordings. Next fall we went into the studio to cut the record for Sugar and we invited Jim to join us and he cam back so refreshed and rejuvenated – he was the star of the session and I think that was a big part of why the record came off as it has.”
The similarities between Sugar and some of the band’s earlier works, such as Coast To Coast Motel (1995) haven’t gone unnoticed. The artwork is similar and the recording process was the same as some of their earlier work, producing an album that not only satisfies fans nostalgia cravings, but also feels like a fresh start for the band.
Speaking of the recording process for Sugar G. Love states, “We had done a recording session and been really careful about the songs we had chosen with my record label and manager, we had done a lot of work on the songs and finally gotten them to a place where everyone was happy. There was this one song called Come Up Man, which I had put on a demo and they had said they didn’t want it. I said I’m going to do this song anyway and we finished the whole session and they said they thought we only had a few good songs, not a whole record’s worth. So they say they want me to go back to the studio, but they like this song Come Up Man!”
He laughs, but you can feel a lingering disbelief tingeing the sound, “I just thought ‘you didn’t even want me to record this one in the first place!’ So I just said f**ck you guys, I was so pissed, but I wrapped my head around it and we went back into the studio. Come Up Man is a hip-hop groove, kind of influenced by Cypress Hill and it had electric slide guitar and me with my vocals, which created an easy blueprint to create the record.”
That blueprint is exactly what fans can look forward to when the band hits the Bluesfest stages April 2nd and 3rd in 2015. With a strong history of on stage collaboration and behind the scenes jamming G. Love is looking forward to the festival.
“I’m excited to see The Black Keys and my brother Xavier Rudd; I haven’t seen Xavier since I ran into him on the street when I was on vacation in Byron Bay a bunch of years ago,” G. Love said. “He is one of my favourite people in the world. I will never forget the first time I saw Xavier play, it was in an art gallery in Laguna Beach, CA and Jack (Johnson), Donovan (Frankenreiter), Xavier and myself all performed at this gallery and the rest of us were looking at it as something really laid back and our performance was like that. Then Xavier came on and he was so heavy and as far as guys who can pull off ‘one man and a guitar’ he is right at the top of my list. The thing I love the most about Xavier is I find his music so deep, but I also know him as a regular guy who likes to have a beer and tell jokes and go surfing and I like that. I’m really just looking forward to jamming with some great musicians!”
Tickets are currently on sale for Bluesfest, so jump on the G. Love & Special Sauce train, your ears will thank you!