Over the past few years‚ thanks to music festivals‚ downloads and good old fashioned "buzz‚" great bands have been able to branch out beyond regional icon status into the mainstream live music circuits. San Francisco has hosted a number of these acts in a sort of modern day jamband renaissance. Out in front of this scene is ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra)‚ a 16-year music collaboration that has been enjoying a surge in exposure‚ popularity and a nationwide tour.
Zach‚ Dan‚ Steve and David have been traveling in support of the Jack Johnson Tour. I caught up with ALO in New York before their gig at the Mercury Lounge on September 11th.
I've got to ask the tough question first…How do you categorize your music?
ZACH GILL: We don't.
DAN LEBOWITZ: Any way we can.
Well‚ how do you describe it to people?
STEVE ADAMS: Fun and funky.
DAVID BROGAN: I start with rock. It's rock in its most basic form‚ with elements of jazz‚ funk and pop. I'd say funky‚ jammy‚ pop rock.
ZG: It's based on old-school funk as a common ground. From there we branch out to a lot of other stuff like folk music‚ electronica‚ jazz.
What music do you listen to‚ either growing up or now?
DB: I've been listening to a lot of U2 lately‚ the new Kings of Leon CD‚ Brian Eno and maybe a little early '90s hip-hop.
SA: Wilco‚ Sly & the Family Stone‚ Medeski‚ Martin & Wood.
ZG: We grew up in the '80s. We listened to pretty much whatever was on the radio.
You have all had a lot of other side projects and collaborations outside of ALO. How important is that and how do you keep the balance?
DL: I think it's a real important thing to let each of us go off and find our own thing. It's also very cool for the band to have everyone bring back any new knowledge they've gained.
ZG: I think its good because we're all open about it‚ and we kind of have that built into our experience‚ but still have ALO as our priority.
DB: It's good‚ but it's hard. It's one little weight on the scale. It's what we're striving for‚ balance. We're such a four-way collaboration. I think it's natural to kind of want to go out and do your own thing just to get a different experience.
Where does the name Animal Liberation Orchestra come from?
DL: A friend suggested it. He thought there should be a band called that. It came out of a pool of a bunch of possible names.
So there's no political meaning behind it?
ZG: No‚ but it's funny. We get approached all the time about that. It has actually allowed us to be more aware about those issues.
DL: We definitely use the idea of your "inner animal."
ZG: Animal Liberation as a concept is a very personal thing. I feel like our quest as a band is animal liberation in some sort of metaphorical sense.