ALO: Rock Band

ALO is a rock band from California.  In an age when bands come and go, ALO continues to make records and perform around the world.

There’s something to be said for the “backstage” interview.  This is one of them.  ALO was opening up for singer-songwriter Jack Johnson and this was the result!

What do you think about James Brown’s advice to the band?

This is kind of like déjà vu because it was five years ago, back on the Radio Margaritaville days, I had a little digital recorder and I was on a tour bus – this was at Chastain Park and, uh, it was one of – I’m not just saying this – it was one of my favorite interviews that I had ever done with a band because it was lighthearted and fun but it was alsoserious at the same time. But it’s kind of like déjà vu because I’m back here with ALO again.

Zach Gill
The same spot even?

No, it was at Chastain.

Zach Gill
Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

… and, uh, we’re at Lakewood this time. So for those who maybe, uh, are being exposed to ALO for the first time, just like last time, I would like it if you guys could introduce yourselves. (Group does self-introductions)

Dan Lebowitz
My name’s “Lebo”. I play guitar and do a little singing.

Dave Brogan
My name’s Dave Brogan. I play drums and sing.

Zach Gill
My name’s Zach Gill; keyboardist, singer.

Steve Adams
My name’s Steve Adams. I play bass and do some singing as well.

Alright.

Dan Lebowitz
I like how you said ‘being exposed to ALO for the first time’ like there’s going to be a vaccine for it (laughter) …

Dave Brogan
You may get a rash (laughter).

Zach Gill
The urge to … (laughter)

Dan Lebowitz:This is your first exposure … (laughter)

Dave Brogan:           The burning … (laughter)

Dave Brogan
Usually a rash comes from repeated exposure.

(Band member) Yeah (laughs)!

(Band member) If a burning sensation happens when you urinate, you …

Dave Brogan
‘Do this.’ (laughs)

Dan Lebowitz
Put on the first album. Drag it around. (background comments)

OK. So the new album is called Man of the World and it’s an album dedicated to the spirit of Creativity …

Steve Adams
Yeah.

… which, I thought that was interesting.

Steve Adams
Not too many people probably read that line on the liner notes.

I read liner notes, obsessively.

Steve Adams
Yeah …

Whose idea was it, to put that?

Steve Adams
Might have been Zach’s I think …?

Dave Brogan
Yeah.

Steve Adams
Yeah, but we all agreed.

Zach Gill
Yeah, and it’s a good dedication.

Dan Lebowitz
The spirit of Creativity sort of relates to, like, the spirit of Christmas Past.

Dave Brogan
Yeah. It’s an idea.

Dan Lebowitz
And we dedicated the album to, like, as an offering.

Zach Gill
It was one of many dedications, right? I mean, there were other – aren’t there other dedications?

Steve Adams
Well, there’s ‘thank you’s’ but that’s the sole …

Zach Gill
Oh, that’s the only dedication.

Steve Adams
… that’s the sole dedication.

Dan Lebowitz
The Muse.

But ‘Creativity’ was capitalized.

Dave Brogan
I’d really say that that’s like an offering, you know? Something that you leave out for the …

Steve Adams
… the ghost or spirit.

Dan Lebowitz
 … the ghost of Creativity Past (laughs).

Dave Brogan
… you know, cookies and milk for Santa.

Dan Lebowitz
… Oh, yeah (laughs).

Dave Brogan
This is like our cookies and milk, our offering for Creativity spirits.

Zach Gill
Thank you! It’s yours now.

Steve Adams
We kind of – I think we approached this record – well, we wanted to approach this record, going into it, like a real sort of open and creative mindset. And, uh, I think we kept referring to that while we were making the record – that, um, creative … I think that’s where that, you know, dedication came from.

Zach Gill
You know, yeah, you know. I always try to, I always try to dedicate a – like my solo album I dedicated to the spirit of Creativity and the art of galumping, galumping.

Dan Lebowitz
Galumping? What’s that?

Steve Adams
Lowering yourself into a cave?

(Band member) No, that’s ‘spelunking’. (Laughter)

Zach Gill
Galumping is the, uh, is the, uh, is the quality of when a kid has excessive energy and you watch them do things like, uh, like maybe they’ll, they’ll – you know, you’ll watch them just, like, follow the line on a sidewalk, but real meticulously, like, for no real reason other than …

Dave Brogan
OCD?

Zach Gill
It’s kind of like – well, some people call it that but it’s like, you know, a free play thing…

Dave Brogan
Yeah. Oh, right,right, right.

Zach Gill
A lot of people believe that, like, the arts – you know, in general, come out of – you know, galumping is kind of something you do when you have extra energy …

Dave Brogan
Umhmm.

Zach Gill
 … and extra time and you’re willing to kind of just play with your time. Self-conscious time.

Dave Brogan
Yeah, Free play with time.

Zach Gill
Yeah, free play with time, which I …

Dave Brogan
Based on, where you can find yourselves.

Zach Gill
Yeah, which I always thought was a good thing.

So, for those that, uh, like I said earlier, this is the first exposure, their first contact with ALO …

Steve Adams
Oh, we’re in deep already (laughter)!

… through the powers of technology – how was ALO born?

Steve Adams
It was born …how was it born?

Dan Lebowitz
It was born from friends, kid friends, who wanted to but create music, right?

Dave Brogan
Yeah. Essentially, you know, it was galumping.

Zach Gill
Galumping. Yeah, it was born out of galumping. Yeah, I think Dan and Steve and I all wanted to be in a band – yeah, we wanted to be in a band when we were young. We all played instruments. And then at UC Santa Barbara we met Dave and he wanted to be in a band, too. And we all had kind of the same, uh, like – ahh, you know, you could, you could, uh, if you just practiced hard and you worked hard as a band, you could, uh, you could, uh, you know, you could become successful and do it for a living.

Dave Brogan
Well, you three guys, um, started in Junior High School, right? Which is a real prime time for galumping because really, it’s not quite as  – you don’t have as much homework, usually.

Zach Gill
No – and not as much expectations.

Dave Brogan
It’s not that serious.

Dan Lebowitz
Yeah. We galumped all the way through college, though (laughter).

Steve Adams
There was even galumping through high school (laughter).

Dave Brogan
That’s really true, like when you – the scene that we were in Santa Barbara, or in Isla Vista, which is the town, it was, like – it was so fertile because you had a built-in audience of, like, thousands of students so you could play at any time and have a big crowd. There was a great, like, multiplex of, of band rehearsal spaces so you had a big community of musicians there and – and it really did feel like if you just did it and practiced that you’d be successful, you know?

Dan Lebowitz
The resources were all there.

Dave Brogan
It was a real outlier’s type of experience where it was just the right place at the right time. If you had the drive, the environment was totally fertile for you to do your thing.

Dan Lebowitz
Yeah, ‘cause we went to – that’s where we met Jack Johnson, was at college there and it was much the same thing, that band. Same thing, same rehearsal space.

Zach Gill
Yeah. It was an easy situation – I mean, you could nod in parties. You could just have a will to play and you could get a gig.

Steve Adams
Yeah, really.

Dan Lebowitz
Oh yeah.

There’s a DVD out and it’s called Jack Johnson in Concert
and, uh, it features you guys on it a bit.

Zach Gill
No, The Weekend at The Greek is the one.

Weekend at The Greek – sorry. You guys have played in a lot of really just incredible places. You know, uh, there’s a lot of pictures I’ve seen of you guys playing some places that are incredible looking. Is there one place that you guys can say, in unison, that was the most awesome place that you got to play a gig?

Steve Adams
I know one place. Should we all say it together?

Zach Gill
At the same time – Ahhh …

Dave Brogan
Red Rocks?

Steve Adams
Highlander (laughter).

Dan Lebowitz
 The Highlander in Augusta, GA. I’ll never forget it.

Dave Brogan
… or maybe it was Augusta, SC

(Band member) Which I think was …

Zach Gill
… maybe the most memorable place ever …

Steve Adams
… a really incredible spot. And in a way, I think it almost inspired the birth of ALO, sort of indirectly.

Dave Brogan
Umhmm.

Steve Adams
Because we were out in Georgia living for the summer ’96 all together and, uh, we got to like, sort of take in some of the James Brown scene and the influx and all of that, and came back to college wanting to, like, really play funk music and stuff. And I think that was a big thing for the beginning of ALO, wanting to have a funk orchestra. But, uh, I think that was discovered out here in Georgia.

When you guys put out an ALO record, what is the process like for making the music? Because there’s so many of you.

Dave Brogan
Yeah, that’s changed over the years. So, like, lately it’s been pretty collaborative, where we try to go into a rehearsal space and just jam together. And then we kind of pick some of the best grooves and stuff and try to trim those into songs. There’s that process. There’s also the process where people bring in pretty much completed songs and we flesh them out as a band.

Dan Lebowitz
Yeah, those being the two, you know,extremes and then things in between, even; where it’s, like, half someone’s song and half jamming, you know?

Dave Brogan
Yeah.

Dan Lebowitz
Yeah, but everything in between.

Dave Brogan
Yeah, and someone will bring in a jam, a song idea and we’ll jam on it.

Steve Adams
The last two records, too, we kind of gave ourselves a short amount of time to do them. So that’s probably part of – that’s a process, too. Like here’s three weeks; we’re going to take three weeks in the studio and just do as much as we can. Get as far as we can. And that’s, um, that’s been part of our process, too. Sort of limiting our time.

Zach Gill
And that’s an interesting assumption that you can – you know, that we’ve kind of like put into our process – that you could make a good album in three weeks.

Steve Adams
You know, it’s not about

Zach Gill
– as opposed to, you know, some bands like, you know, like the Legend of Steely Dan, where it’s like – that wouldn’t be, like, their way of attacking it. They’re like, ‘No, we’re here, we’re going to fix – make everything meticulously.’ And I think our thing is ‘Let the mistakes happen if they’re cool.’ Just think on your toes.

So, when you put out a record, what would you say the end result – what do you think the goal is?

Steve Adams
I think it’s to capture, you know, capture like a moment in time – how people are feeling and within that time, and how people are playing. I think if you can capture it well, you know I think that’s, that’s sort of the goal, I think, is to sort of capture that moment because you’re never going to get it again. It’s sort of like, it passes.

Dan Lebowitz
Almost feels like a, like an album is like, like a step on a staircase or, or a rung on a ladder or whatever. You know, like without it it’s all just sort of floating around. Like, we used to have periods – we’d go long periods of times without making albums – and then these songs would get written and performed and we’d get tired of them and they’d just sort of disappear. But an album, like, organizes all of that. Like, OK, here’s like ten or twelve songs, you know, recorded and documented. It feels like it sort of completes it and then you can, like, step on that. And then the next album is another step and you can keep on moving. Whereas, without it, sometimes it feels like you’re just swimming.

Well, speaking of moving – ALO has been around a while. How would you say that the band has evolved over the years? Because, like, if you listen to – I forget the name of this album but it has the Valentine’s Day song on it.

Zach Gill
Oh, Time Expander.

Steve Adams

That was an indie release.

You really, really have changed.

Zach Gill
Yeah. I mean, each one of us affects it. You know, I mean you know, time affects it. I think this goes through the same changes, musically, that, like, anybody’s life would go through, you know?

Dan Lebowitz
Hey, that kind of relates to the last question a little bit, too. Like, what’s the album? The album is like where we’re collectively at, at that time.

Umhmm.

Dan Lebowitz
You know, like, right? So, like, Time Expander is collectively where we were, yeah, at the time.

Dave Brogan
I think we wear our influences on our sleeves quite a bit – or did. I think maybe between the Time Expander and, and um, Fly Between Falls there’s a certain – like what we’re into musically kind of shows up on the album. Not so much any more.

Zach Gill
I mean, you can see it all. Like, you know, you can definitely – you know, the really nice thing about having albums, as Dan said, you can really follow the evolution. I always really enjoyed that with other bands. You know, sometimes I wish some of our, some pretty great moments of our thing where we didn’t make albums …

Dan Lebowitz
Yeah, we had some really good times.

Zach Gill
 …were kind of like lost so it almost makes it like, ‘How did they get from there to there?’ you know? So like there’s definitely some lost recordings and tapes and albums that didn’t happen.

Dan Lebowitz
Yeah. There was definitely something happening in between Time Expander and Fly Between Falls.

Zach Gill
There was a lot!

Dan Lebowitz
There’s a sound that sort of didn’t get recorded.

Dave Brogan
Yeah. It’s sort of like there’s times in – there’s periods of your life when, like, you’re camera’s broken or whatever. You just don’t take a lot of pictures (laughs).

Zach Gill
Often, those are the times where you’re too busy to get a camera.

Dan Lebowitz
We’d started an album and, like, with Busy Killing Time and those tunes, it was sort of like one of those in-between …

Dave Brogan
That was…period.

Zach Gill
Yeah. Time Expander was a, you know, just a shadow of it’s original … thing.

I thought of this question last night and I think it’s an interesting question. How would you define a band that is successful?

Dave Brogan
Well, there’s lots of different levels of success. I mean, somebody was, I was like – I met an old, you know, kind of family friend not too long ago and he was like ‘So, what are you doing?’ and I told him what I was doing. And as he was like leaving his parting thing was like ‘Well, it’s good to see you. It’s good to see you’re doing your thing and you’re undoubtedly touching lives.’ You know, and that was sort of his thing. I was like ‘Oh, yeah (laughs). That’s right. Yeah, you’re right!’ I mean, he was right and so that’s a success all on its own, you know, right there. The other level of success is being successful enough to be able to keep doing that and have a, you know, an adult life at the same time you, know, there’s success there.

Steve Adams
Just like your personal goals – that like, what you personally want out of life and sort of what you dream of and whatnot. And it is, like, the band’s goals. You can kind of measure success next to those goals a little bit if you’re like meeting those goals, I guess.

But then there’s also just like – for me, I know the goal for me is just to maintain a level of happiness, you know, and satisfaction and… So, that’s like a general goal. It’s not like we want to be playing this club by this time or something, but goals are an easy way to sort of measure your success.

Dave Brogan
You just sort of rock as many people as you can and hopefully, you get enough back on that to just keep your thing going so you can just keep doing it and grow a little bit.

Zach Gill
You know, I totally saw a thing on TV the other day where the Red Hot Chili Peppers were really young and they like asked them if they felt successful and it was a very similar thing. You know, it was just like ‘what is success?’ We were successful when we were kids. Like, we put together a band, you know? Like lots of other kids, we put together a band.

Dave Brogan
Totally.

Zach Gill
You know, and like it’s all these different moments, you know? It’s very personal, you know? But, hopefully – it sure does help at night to sleep when you feel successful. You know, you’re feeling upbeat. Feeling unsuccessful is daunting.

Steve Adams
When we put on a good show and you can really tell. Everyone walks off stage and everyone agrees and that was a good set or a good show – that feels successful to me. And it’s such a micro-moment in the whole grand scheme of things but that’s a vali – yeah, those are validating moments.

Well, I have two more questions. What is the best part about being in ALO?

Dave Brogan
Camaraderie (laughs).

Dan Lebowitz
That’s what came to my mind, too, actually. It sounds kind of cheesy but I think it’s true. Like, a lot of other projects I’ve played in, like, don’t have that – the same, like uh, old-friends/family kind of feeling that ALO has. I think that’s the one thing that’s most special about it.

Yeah.

Dan Lebowitz
It’s not very business or it’s not very professional – I mean in a good way, you know? I mean, like, everyone’s real, just kind of comfortable. Sometimes that’s bad, too, you know? Like, you’re not afraid to think or something. But it’s personal, you know? It’s real, like, it’s alive.

Steve Adams
I think what I like about it, too, is we’re all like a sort of band process, a traditional band process. Like, very collaborative.  Well I don’t know how traditional that is, but it feels like very democratic and collaborative where everyone gets a say in something as opposed to a band, maybe, where there’s a leader, you know? So, I think that’s a real special thing for this band. We’ve been able to maintain that sort of over, you know, many hurdles and a long period of time, and still feel good about it. And I think the friendship, youknow, makes that possible for us.

Well, my last question – do you guys have any parting words of wisdom?

Steve Adams
‘Partying’?

‘Parting’

Dan Lebowitz
Get back in school (laughs), stay off drugs.

Zach Gill
That’s what James Brown …

Dave Brogan
‘Make music #2’

Zach Gill
That’s what he told us – ‘Make music #2. Get back in school’ (laughs).

Dan Lebowitz
We were in college still and we were thinking about quitting. Yeah, and like doing the band professionally (Laughs) and he said ‘Make music #2 and stay in school.’

Dave Brogan
You weren’t thinking about quitting were you?

Dan Lebowitz
Yeah, we did.

Dave Brogan
Wait – you guys were thinking about quitting college?

Steve Adams
Yeah, it crossed our mind.

Zach Gill
Yeah, we were in Georgia and that crossed our mind. We could just stay here.

Steve Adams
The Highlander was so magical.

Zach Gill
Yeah, the summer – I mean, we always talk about the summer of ’96 when we all moved to Georgia. It was like a real turning point, I think, in all our lives. It was, you know – it was an interesting moment. A lot of things changed forever after that.

Dave Brogan
What would it have been like if we all would have stayed there (laughs)?

Steve Adams
We probably would’ve had another three months in..(laughs).

Dan Lebowitz
I know (laughs) and we might have all got, like, strung out or something.

Steve Adams
I think someone told me this bit of advice about just relationships in general but I think it applies to the band, too. To be in a band but not be in it too seriously. Just to, like, yeah – not over-think it and not get too down or, you know, just do it and sort of appreciate it and, like, enjoy it and, you know, as long as that’s all flowing, it’s good.

Ladies and gentlemen, you can find out more about ALO at alomusic.com. What does ALO stand for? I’m not going to tell you (laughs). You can do that on your own (laughter). Alomusic.com – thank you gentlemen.

Band in Unison
Thank You.

Zach Gill
It’s a mystery… (laughs)

TRANSCRIBED BY GAYLE BRAZDA

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *