CHICKENHEAD PAST: G. LOVE & SPECIAL SAUCE
interview by tina wells
photograph by insane wayne chinsang

DURING OUR FIRST YEAR, FROM SEPTEMBER 1999 TO AUGUST 2000, WE WERE KNOWN UNDER THE MONIKER CHICKENHEAD. DURING THAT FIRST YEAR, WE INTERVIEWED A LOT OF PEOPLE. NOT ALL OF THEM WERE GREAT INTERVIEWS. YOU CAN TELL THAT WE WERE JUST STARTING TO FIGURE OUT OUR STYLE. BUT WE'VE PICKED TWELVE INTERVIEWS OUT FROM THAT FIRST YEAR THAT EPITOMIZED WHAT WE WERE TRYING TO DO. DURING JUNE, JULY, AND AUGUST WE WILL BE PLACING THESE OLD INTERVIEWS ONLINE FOR YOUR READING PLEASURE. THERE WILL BE FOUR NEW INTERVIEWS EACH MONTH. ENJOY THIS BLAST FROM TASTES LIKE CHICKEN'S PAST!

INTERVIEW: G. LOVE & SPECIAL SAUCE

ORIGINAL PRINT DATE: JANUARY 2000


WHAT ARE THE CHANCES YOU'LL DISCUSS IMPRESSIONIST ART, UNIQUE MIXED DRINKS, AND THE LATE NORMAN FELL'S SUPERIORITY AS LANDLORD OVER DON KNOTTS ON THREE'S COMPANY ALL IN ONE EVENING? PRETTY DAMN GOOD IF YOU HAPPEN TO BE CHICKENHEAD'S TINA WELLS, AND YOU'RE HANGING OUT WITH PHILLY'S OWN G. LOVE & SPECIAL SAUCE.

Tina: What did you guys do, musically, before G. Love & Special Sauce started?

G: Before I met these guys, I was just performing solo in coffee shops.

T: Did you go by a different name then?

G: Crazy G.

T: How did you hook up with Jimi "Jazz" Prescott and "Houseman"?

G: I hooked up with Jeff ("Houseman") first. He saw me perform in a local bar where he had a weekly gig. And he knew Jim, so we got it going on like that.

T: Other than Philadelphonic, of course, what were some of the better CDs to come out in 1999?

Jazz: Medeski Martin & Wood with John Scofield (A GO GO) was one of my personal favorites.

Houseman: I like this record called Clandestino by Manu Chao. I think he's from Central America or Spain, and he sings in Spanish and French. I also like the new Los Lobos album (This Time).

J: I've been listening to the new Foo Fighters album (There Is Nothing Left To Lose). I think it's pretty cool.

G: I like the new Long Beach Dub All-Stars record (Right Back).

T: On your third album, you offered up an interactive portion titled "Cooking with G.", in which you did just that. What meal do you love to sit down to, and is there any favorite drink that accompanies the meal?

G: On this tour I've been grilling some beautiful steaks. But I ate too much, and now I'm kind of meat-free. But I've got this great technique of grilling steak by making slices in the meat, and then imbedding chunks of garlic and jalapeno pepper in it.

H: I had one, and it was just really outstanding. But I don't recommend eating three in one sitting.

G: Yeah. I got food poisoning, because I made some that were so good I ended up eating three of them. I puked the next night.

H: We also always have a plethora of favorite beverages, like red wine. Jim also likes to experiment with cocktails.

G: Like the Creamsicle.

J: The Creamsicle is one of my famous ones.


T: What's a Creamsicle?

J: Didn't you ever have a Creamsicle when you were a kid?

T: Yeah.

G: Well, it's Vanilla Stoli with orange juice, and a little seltzer water.

J: You're giving away my secret recipe! The recipe I was going to copyright! (laughs)

G: One of mine that I created is the Shani, which is an Irish drink made up of lemonade and beer. But I also make the French Shani, which is cranberry juice and beer; the Hawaiian Shani, which is pineapple juice and beer; and the Breakfast Shani, which is milk and Guinness.

J: There is also the breakfast drink, G & G, which is Guinness and grapefruit juice.


T: How would you describe G. Love & Special Sauce to someone that had never heard you before?

G: Good. Hip-hop. Blues.

T: Of the four full-length albums that you have released, which album do you feel you are most emotionally attached to, or have the most invested in?

J: The first one.

G: Definitely.


T: What album, it doesn't have to be your own, is perfect to make sweet love to?

G: Our first one, definitely. (laughs) Rastaman Vibration by Bob Marley.

H: I think that the Dandy Warhols first album (Dandys Rule Ok?) is a great album to fuck to.


T: What is the one thing you miss most about your childhood?

G: Oh, wow! Good question.

H: Well, I guess if I was going to say one thing, I would have to say my father. But there are so many things that can remind you of a childhood memory: a smell, a girl's name. You could be at a place and say, "Oh, man. I remember my family took a summer vacation here when I was 12."

G: I think I miss simplicity and lack of real responsibility.

J: Nothing at all. I'm happier now than I have ever been in my life.

G: Well, then I guess it's nice to know you now. (laughs) Glad I didn't know you earlier.

H: Hope I don't meet you later.


T: Are there any visual artists you have a fondness for?

J: Van Gogh.

H: Yeah. Jim and I were just discussing all of the Impressionists.

G: Monet. Merlot. (laughs)

J: Toulouse-Lautrec.

H: Are you talking just painters, or any kind of visual artist?


T: Any kind.

H: Well, then I like Woody Allen movies.

G: I like Star Wars.

J: Brazil. That's a good movie.

H: I also enjoyed the cinematography in Hear My Song, which is an Irish film that came out around 1994.


T: There is an obvious influence of early hip-hop in your music. "Rock 'N' Roll" on Philadelphonic pays homage to those influences of old. What do you think of the current hip-hop of today in comparison to the early days?

G: I think hip-hop's Golden Age was from '84-'94. Those were some incredibly historic records. I think those albums were classic, like classic rock. Since then there have been some innovative people making hip-hop, like The Roots and Mos Def, but I don't think it's the same kind of caliber at all.

H: G. Love is really the hip-hop aficionado. He brings that element to our music. A lot of the things he calls hip-hop, I call funk.

G: Yeah. But I don't even really go out and buy hip-hop records anymore. The last one I got was Mos Def, and everyone thought it was so hot. It's pretty good, but it's not a classic record like (A Tribe Called Quest's) The Low End Theory, (De La Soul's) 3 Feet High and Rising, (Boogie Down Productions') By All Means Necessary, the first Cypress Hill album (Cypress Hill), the first Pharcyde record (Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde), the first Brand Nubian record (One For All). All of these bands put out these incredible records at that time, like Eric B. & Rakim in the late-Eighties. And now, it's good, but it's not the same.


T: You did a live version of "Things That I Used To Do" on the Tonnage compilation in 1995. Are there plans to release any more live material in the future?

G: There is tons of live material on our website. You can get all of our bootlegs. We have hundreds of shows taped. We're in the process of finding someone who will run a bootleg page, which will have 50 or 100 live shows cataloged. Then you just choose which one you want.

T: Woodstock '99: incredible, or a giant commercial?

H: I'd say that Woodstock '99 could have been a great event, but it was poorly run. If you think of the original Woodstock and some of the historic performances and artists that played, it was nothing like that. This was more of an arena of pop music and terribly misbehaved white youth that should be ashamed of themselves for their behavior. Although, admittedly, it was poorly run, and there were poor conditions for the concertgoers.

G: The main problems were poor garbage disposal and lack of free water.

H: Expensive water, expensive food. They didn't clean the garbage up, and the conditions were beyond hideous and livable for the concertgoers. I also think that the album reflects a poor choice in artists. There were some highlights, but many of them got overlooked. Willie Nelson was there, and he didn't make the record. Los Lobos was there, and they didn't make the record. I just think that they should have had less angry bands, and a few more classic bands, and they may have had a different crowd.


T: Who has better french fries: McDonalds or Burger King?

G: McDonalds.

T: In your amateur opinion, do you think dogs have lips?

G: (long pause) Yeah. Dogs have lips.

T: And your reason?

G: Well, there's the fur, and then there's the inside of the lip, and the ridge along the bottom. That's the lip.

T: Who do you think is a bigger scourge on humanity: *NSYNC, The Backstreet Boys, or Ricky Martin?

G: All of the above.

T: Are you preparing for Y2K?

G: I'm just keeping some extra cash on hand. I've also got plenty of wine, booze, and chips.

T: Who was a better landlord: Mr. Furley or Mr. Roper?

H: I'd have to say Mr. Roper. I think Don Knotts is a very funny comedian, but Norman Fell was just perfect in that role. He was just unstoppable.

G: (rapping) Landlord named Roper, did a show at the Copa, when I'm finished with this I'll be paid like Oprah.

H: I thought Norman Fell was fucking hilarious, but I do love Don Knotts.


T: What was the inspiration behind the song "Milk & Cereal"?

G: Milk and cereal. That was it.

T: What was the most bizarre thing you've ever seen at one of your shows?

G: A punk rocker. (laughs)

H: I've seen some tits. Girls come up on stage, and saunter and shimmy.


T: Name an album or band you used to dig, but now are completely embarrassed by.

H: The Thompson Twins.

G: Asia. But I'm not even embarrassed by that though. (singing) "It was the heat of the moment."

H: I went to the Thompson Twins (concert) and I bought their album in 1982.


T: Talk a little bit about the pros and cons of touring across the world for extended periods of time.

G: Estranged girlfriends are the cons. The pros are traveling, seeing new things, and music.

T: Do you guys have other bands that you play with?

G: Well, we all have certain people that we jam with, but this is the main thing.

H: I haven't had too much time to pursue any outside interests, although I've played on a lot of other records outside of G. Love over the past few years. I play with people in New Orleans quite a bit. Jim plays in San Francisco a little bit.


T: You joined Leyona, a Japanese recording artist for Sony, in the studio to do some producing. Are you looking at doing more side projects like these in the future?

G: Yes. The thing I'm working on now is for our background singers, Brodeeva. I'm trying to get those guys a deal.

H: There is also an artist named Teresa Anderson who I am interested in helping. She is a great singer, and she used to be part of a band that was on our label.


T: After this tour is over, what are your future plans? Back in the studio? More touring? Taking a break?

G: After the New Year, we have a month off.

H: Then we go to Japan.


T: What do you do on your month break?

G: Try to get my girlfriend to talk to me again, play some music at home, and do laundry. You can't imagine the amounts of laundry that build up after six months on the road.

H: For me, I go home and decompress, because the road can really burn you. I just do things that a lot of people take for granted; like going to a supermarket and pushing a cart around.

G: Like taking a crap in your own tub. (laughs)

H: The point is to go home and do regular things: wash dishes, visit with friends, or go out to a bar. We're usually so caught up in what we're doing that it's nice to go out and catch some other gigs.

G: Drop by your mom's house and say hi,.. and smoke some homegrown.

VISIT G. LOVE AND SPECIAL SAUCE HERE.

PURCHASE ITEMS BY G. LOVE AND SPECIAL SAUCE