This month our green crusader Eva Hernandez from the Dogwood Alliance,
interviews Adam Gardner of Guster and discusses how Gardner’s non-profit org, Reverb can help you
survive and thrive touring green.
From the Musicians Atlas article:
click here to read the original article.
“Everybody wins, the artists themselves win because I know a lot of
"Using recharchable batteries on stage, re-using guitar strings
– Adam Gardner, Guster
FAN CARBON OFFSET PROGRAM
MyScene: Touring Green
Whether you are a musician just starting off; an experienced
artist with a flourishing career, or someone in the music community whose life
revolves around the production and marketing of music, I’m sure the thought has
crossed your mind, “What can I possibly do to lighten my load on the
environment, where can I even begin, and how can I still put food on my table?”
The great news is that there are easy options for musicians of all shapes
and sizes to go green. The non-profit organization, Reverb, works with
artist both big and small who have found a balance between sustaining their
career as a musician and sustaining the environment they love.
Reverb was founded in 2004 by environmentalist Lauren Sullivan and her
musician husband, Guster
guitarist/vocalist Adam Gardner. What started as a way to help bands coordinate
with biodiesel suppliers while on tour has turned into a multi-faceted approach
to greening the music industry, working with dozens of bands and reaching
millions of fans over the last few years.
I had the opportunity to interview Guster’s Adam Gardner and his business
partner and wife Lauren, co-founders of Reverb, recently while they were on
Dogwood Alliance (DA): So how did you even get this idea to start
a non-profit as a musician?
Adam: Reverb started because Lauren has been an environmentalist for a
long time, working for Rainforest Action Network, and I’m a musician so we have
a solid foot in both the Non-Profit world and the music community. It naturally
came together. The organization is a figurative and literal marriage between
Lauren and I.
DA: What was the first Reverb project?
Adam: We started in 2004 helping other bands go green by
coordinating with local biodiesel suppliers to come and fill them up at venues,
helping with their contract riders at every show to provide eco-friendly
products and coordinating green tours while reaching out to fans.
From the very beginning we were able to help bridge a gap between artists
and the fan base and actually engage those fans to take positive actions as
well. Actually started out, not with Guster, but with Barenaked Ladies and
DA: I’m sure there are a lot of artists interested in
going green, or who have at least thought about it. How do you make that leap
from thinking about it to actually doing something about it?
Adam: At first it was just a concept, originally. We heard
about Bonnie Raitt’s Green
Highway (http://www.greenhighway.net/) and thought, let’s pick their brains
and see what info they have and how they are making this work. Bonnie has been
a musician/activist since the 70’s. The Green Highway was a way for them to
invite local non- profits to spread their message at concerts. We got together
with them and thought, great let’s take it to the next level of an ECO Village.
With help from Aria
Foundation (www.ariafoundation.org) and mentoring from Cathy Kane who
helped start Bonnie Raitt’s Green
Highway we’ve come a long way. We’ve now helped
with over 43 major tours.
DA: How do you balance the money making side of it—we
know a lot of musicians do care about these issues but how do you care about it
and also not go bankrupt?
Adam: I am one of those musicians, we do well enough to make a
living but can’t afford to spend money on a whole bunch of things. There a lot
of bands adding a quarter or $.50 or $1, whatever they can, to their ticket
prices which helps pay for it. It’s called an Eco- fund and most fans don’t
mind paying a bit extra because it goes toward enhancing the concert
experience. There are also plenty of Eco-friendly sponsors like Ben and
Jerry’s, Stonyfield Farms, Clif Bars and more. There are other things too, like
Bonnie Raitt auctions off 10 seats in the 4th row and that goes toward the
DA: How do your fans respond to your environmental
Adam: It’s been amazing! It’s a great side effect. Building
awareness and action tightens that bond, speaking from Gusters reaction, their
participation is great. Fans can neutralize their drive to and from the
show—they can buy little stickers at the show that pay for Carbon offsets
through companies like Native
Dave Matthews Band fans are already over ½ million miles neutralized in
their drives to and from concerts.
DA: When bands are skeptical about “going green” what’s
a good first step?
Adam: Every band is different, so it’s tailored we really
tailor the tour and other options to their needs. We look at what they need and
say, “here are the possibilities.” If someone is doing a winter tour for 5
weeks, we say, “here are the options.”
DA: What’s a good way for an artist to start?
Adam: Give us a call, go to our website www.reverbrock.org.
DA: What is Guster doing now?
Adam: Right now we’re on the campus consciousness tour which
Reverb created. We’ve done two annual tours so far, hoping to do the 3rd.
That’s where we started going green, last spring. We have an Eco village on
site, organic merchandise, lots of campus wide activities like forums on campus
with faculty, administrators, and students. We even have a pimp my clean ride
DA: What keeps you motivated?
Adam: Philosophically this where we’re coming from, within the
music industry, within the environmental movement. Reverb has duel meaning,
it’s a knob on guitar amp that creates an echo effect and that can be applied
to the outreach which starts with artists, reverbs to fan base, fans talk to
friends and it goes on and on.
DA: All said and done, what is Reverb and Guster all
Adam: We are really coming from a work-with approach, we’re
here to help bands not to push them. We want to be a helpful force, an enabling
force, not being preachy at all. It’s all about positive solutions and
enhancing the concert experience, not being a buzz-kill but making it more
interesting. Not distracting from the main event which is obviously the
concert. It’s an opportunity for us to be able to use our power in a positive
way but not being on a soap-box by inviting Non-profits in the area to come and
talk themselves about important issues.
We want to show that there are positive ways to talk to your fans without
being a buzzkill and knowing that you’re ultimately there to rock out.
DA: What are you listening to?
Adam: Arcade Fire, The Shins,
I love older stuff like The Kinks and The Band.
Working together with non-profits like Dogwood
Alliance, Reverb and other bands and labels to green the industry and
reduce the overall amount of packaging they use, we can transform the packaging
problem, ensure the protection of endangered forests and slow global climate
change. To sign on to help green the music industry, click here: http://dia.dogwoodalliance.org/da/signUp.jsp?key=2197