From Santa Barbara driveways to arenas and festivals all around the world, the guys in Animal Liberation Orchestra (ALO) have been infecting audiences with a vibrant, groovy rock that seems almost indigenous to their native Golden State. Now, after more than two decades and four studio albums together, they’re heading out on their Tour d’Amour, celebrating love, breezy tunes, old friends, and new faces.
In typical ALO fashion, the band will donate a portion of the proceeds from the tour – which will hit 11 cities throughout their home state of California – to non-profit organizations that work to bring music to children.
Music for Good caught up with vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Zach Gill to discuss just how far the group’s good vibes are spreading. Although the band has typically supported national organizations, those doing good work closer to home are never out of the question. “I think picking an actual school from our local zone just felt like a good fit,” says Gill, who helped name San Francisco’s Creative Arts Charter School the associated organization of Tour d’Amour IX.
As products of high school music programs themselves, Gill, along with bassist, Steve Adams, drummer, Dave Brogan, and guitarist, Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz now get the chance to help the Creative Arts Charter School provide hands-on, arts-integrated public education to Bay Area students.
“I was so happy when I found music because I wasn’t really too good at anything else,” Gill explains with a chuckle. “I don’t know what I would’ve done if I didn’t find music… and so I just feel like it’s good to give kids with a mind for that sort of thing the option and the outlet.”
Among the other organizations ALO have contributed to in the past are Notes for Notes, which designs and equips after-school recording studios inside Boys & Girls Clubs, as well as Little Kids Rock, a group that provides free music classes and instruments to students across the country.
Gill and his bandmates have also worked closely in their philanthropic endeavors with longtime friend (and fellow UCSB graduate) Jack Johnson, whose organization, the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, has made significant contributions to environmental, art, and music education worldwide. “I think there was always that [philanthropic] component to our music and Jack’s music,” says Gill. “If you’re going to get a bunch of people together, it’d be cool if it wasn’t just partying for partying sake.”
Johnson’s label, Brushfire Records, has also been pivotal to the band’s growth, according to Gill. Since the 2006 re-release of Fly Between Falls, Brushfire has put out three ALO albums and exposed international audiences to hits like “Girl, I Wanna Lay You Down” and “Blew Out The Walls.”
And so ALO continue to party for one good cause after another, leaving behind a rather contagious happy-go-lucky attitude every step of the way. One might ask what’s next for the California-born jam band vets; Gill’s thinking a new record (this autumn, possibly), more touring, and even a little benefit concert for a handful of lucky Santa Barbara grade-schoolers.