April 01, 2008

British Invasion

Gomez chooses only certified organic rock n' roll

By Lavinia Jones Wright




gomezHow did the idea come about to work on greening projects with touring musicians?
Our founder, Gary Erickson, is a trumpet player, and the company is filled withmusicians, including those in ourcompany band. In 2005, we began supporting environmentally-passionate music festivals, venuesand musicians. In 2006, we realized the powerof touring artists and their fans to make positive environmental change. We launched the CLIF® BAR GreenNotes program to help touring musicians reduce their environmental impact and encourage their fans to do the same.

Have you done anything unique that was the idea of the artist?
Artists are our eyes and ears on the road. They help us understand their waste streams, and we partner with them to find ways to minimize the environmental impact. For example, artists brought to our attention the fact that broken guitar strings are going into their waste bins. Through the CLIF® BAR GreenNotes program, artists can now recycle guitar strings.

What is the response like coming back from consumers and fans?
Fans have jumped at the opportunity to learn more and take action to reduce their own environmental impact. At clifgreennotes.com, fans can take a Pledge to the Planet, pledging changes they will make in their own lives. Since the beginning of the programs, fans have pledged 36 millions pounds of carbon dioxide reductions, which is the equivalent of taking 3,100 cars off the road for one year. Additionally, over 550 volunteers came out to local non-profit events last fall to protect and restore the environment alongside CLIF® BAR and GreenNotes artists.


John Butler plays a GreenNotes
beach cleanup event

Much beloved UK Indie outfit Gomez has been lucky enough to have a long-standing American fan base. The versatile five-piece has been touring the U.S. for more than a decade, and the conscientious Brits have felt the impact of their travels on the environment. Last year, the band teamed up with CLIF® BAR to kick off the company's brand new environmental initiative, GreenNotes, by launching a sold-out completely green fall tour. Playback spoke with Gomez's hilariously sarcastic, but genuinely concerned Tom Gray about the band's un-crusade to save the world.

Are there a lot of bands in Europe who are doing this sort of thing, or is it more of an American thing?
I guess there's a more obvious impact touring America since you're just covering somuch distance. It's more of a glaring impact. People are doing it here, but there's not the same sense of urgency about it. I've been to big gigs here where people have the generators running on bio fuels and things like that. I think it's genuinely because it's not felt as much, unless you're touring America a lot. You tour the UK, you do 8 shows and drive 50 or 100miles every night. You do an American tour and you're driving 900 miles or 1000 miles every night.

How did you get involved with CLIF® BAR's GreenNotes program?
We were the first GreenNotes band, we were the guinea pigs. Basically wemet with a company called MusicMatters. They started talking to CLIF® BAR, and it all just came together very quickly. They advertised a little bit on the tour, they paid for all the extra expense of the entire tour going green. We felt like this was a great opportunity to do something genuinely good as opposed to just being our usual useless selves.

Had you already been doing some greening on your tours or was this the first time?
On previous tours, everything got recycled. It obviously was a concern of ours, but there was little we could do about it. It's hard enough to make money on the road as it is. To have turned green completely and quickly would have been to our detriment, which is the unfortunate truth. It is more expensive to do it. We decided we were going to manufacture organic shirts and use bio-diesel and going to ask our writers to come from a short distance away from the gig. That's why when CLIF® BAR come along saying, We'll help you touring green, and all you have to do is advertise a delightfully chewy bar,' it was like they were giving us the keys to the (hybrid!) car.

So you greened your fall tour, and you did a lot of new things all of a sudden. How much of it was the band's responsibility?
We had to work out the logistics of covering America six or seven times and making sure we were always picking up bio-diesel. At first it was a bit much. I remember sitting up late with the tour manager just working out where we were going to get fuel from. Right at the very start we were doing some things that we weren't probably very qualified to do. (laughs) Eventually, once everyone got into the swing of it and people kind of delegated jobs to each other it all got quite easy.

Because Dave Matthews is one of the most involved environmental artists right now, did that have any effect on your decision to sign with ATO?
It wasn't really a consideration. I know what Dave does and it's incredibly admirable.

Have you done any greening of your CDs?
What we're trying to do is just not sell so many of them anymore. (laughs)

What do you think is the most critical part of your greening efforts?
Getting people talking is the best outcome that we can expect to come out of this. I would say it's far more about awareness than it is what we're actually doing. What's good for the environment today isn't necessarily what's good for the environment tomorrow. The fact that people need to be considering it all the time is really the main point. I'm not really one to get into the pulpit, so at our shows, we just make it very visual. When people walk in there's large posters and literature. There's stuff everywhere. If people choose to take an interest in it then it's there for them to be interested in.

Are you fans of CLIF® BARs now?
Our bass player always seems to be eating one. They find a way into his jacket pocket at all times of day.