It ain’t easy being a gypsy, especially if one sings for their supper. San Francisco’s Tea Leaf Green are newfangled Lost Boys, a traveling gang dedicated to seeking wisdom and experience in places both glorious and seedy. In many ways, this quintet is the essence of rock’s adventurous, playfully outlaw spirit, all of which ultimately fuels songs that resonate with classic vibrations, open-ended possibilities and radio-ready charm. TLG are bruised romantics with heavy minds and a lighthearted way with experimentation, as likely to jam out a number as they are to nail a primo verse-verse-chorus pop gem.
All the steadily growing promise, evident since they began in the late 1990s, comes to fruition on their seventh studio album, Radio Tragedy. With the aid of producer Jeremy Black (Apollo Sunshine), the band has crafted a powerhouse work with the oomph of their stellar live performances melded to a truly impressive array of vocal nuance, rib-sticking song craft and smart studio flourishes. From the Bee Gees-esque bite of “Easy To Be Your Lover” to the bouncing modern rock of “You’re My Star,” Radio Tragedy showcases a contemporary American rock monster fully emerging from the shadows, ready to take on any comers with a sound that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with skilled contemporaries like My Morning Jacket and The Strokes. Together, Trevor Garrod (keys, vocals), Josh Clark (guitar, vocals), Scott Rager (drums), Reed Mathis (bass, vocals) and newest member Cochrane McMillan (drums) have made a record that’s both timely and timeless - a strange, beautiful space that Tea Leaf Green inhabits naturally and gracefully.
Photo credit: Jason Thrasher
“Much of this record is a reflection on the ups and downs on the road to radio gold, chasing dreams and ghosts on America’s highways and finding triumph, sorrow and sacrifice in the pursuit,” says Josh Clark. “Tea Leaf Green has been a band for over a decade. We’ve tried to simply focus on music, just music, honest music, operating in the shadow of braggart auto-tuned rappers and inane teeny bop prop puppets that has come to rule and choke the life out of what was once America’s greatest export - rock and roll.”
“I don't think any of us have ever felt completely satisfied with our past studio experiences, so we went into this one with the deliberate intent of making a complete album. Each of us brought our own vision and we did our best to fuse those ideas in the studio, all of us committed to seeing each member’s vision take shape,” says Scott Rager. “TLG has been a band for 13 years and I think we’ve made the record we always thought we were capable of making.”
“I wanted a story - something loud, something bright, something to scare your kids goodnight. There is adventure to be had. There is an undiscovered country,” says Trevor Garrod. “We have been there for each other through thick (rarely) and thin (mostly). There are five of us now and like a pack of pickpockets, we will steal your heart.”
“At the center, our commitment to this music and our passion for making it and performing it has remained rock steady,” continues Josh Clark. “Like countless bands creating phenomenal music today, we work on the edges of the mainstream where we can be heard, looking in on the tragedy that radio seems to have forgotten where to find the gold. This album is a true story of our lives in pursuit of a dream from another time and how we survive despite it all.”