By Aline Reynolds — Agence France-Presse (AFP), July 16, 2009
Playing instruments made of naturally fallen trees, packaging albums with recycled materials and fuelling tour buses with biodiesel are just some of the ways that North American bands are going green. Illinois-based folk-rock band The Giving Tree Band says it will bring out what will be the world’s first carbon-free album, Great Possessions in August.
“For us it’s very meaningful to be able to keep nature healthy for future generations,” said the band’s co-founder, Eric Fink.
They are following the example set by bigger names in the rock world such as Radiohead and Kings of Leon, both of which appear regularly at green festivals.
Radiohead recently refused to perform at a venue in Glastonbury, England, that was not served by public transportation. The band has also reduced
its carbon emissions by limiting the equipment it takes on tour and using low-energy LED lights and refillable water bottles.
To record their new album, The Giving Tree Band’s eight members commuted by bicycle from a campsite every day for 30 days, travelling a total of 5,600 kilometers, to the solar-powered studio at the Aldo Leopold Legacy Centre in Baraboo, Wisconsin, the first certified carbon-neutral building in the US. And they used two guitars and a mandolin built from naturally fallen trees and reclaimed wood to record passages for several tracks on the album.
They also dream of eventually touring by canoe down the Mississippi River to perform in towns along the massive waterway.
Now they are recording their third album at Crooked Creek, an Illinois studio that offsets its carbon emissions by investing in wind energy. Vegetable ink and recycled materials will be used in the production of the CD.
The Duhks, a California bluegrass/folk-rock group now touring the US and Canada, is also deeply conscious of the environment.
The band, which hails from Canada, travels around on biodiesel fuel, and used recycled paper and soy-based ink for its most recent album, “Fast-Paced World.” It also sells organic merchandise at concerts, and members stick to a primarily vegan diet.
To promote its green mission, the Duhks have liaised with several environmental organizations, such as Bioneers, BoGo Lights and carbonfund.org.
And without heavily prompting its message at concerts, many fans support the band’s position.
“If you make a stand for something, people are going to pay attention,” said Allie Herzog, 27, of Manhattan, at a concert in district.
Others agreed the band’s five members make good role models because they have adopted an eco-friendly lifestyle, and do not just brandish a green logo on their website or T-shirts.
The Duhks’s greatest challenge in going green is to “convince people that it is going to be worth it and doable,” said Tania Elizabeth, the band’s fiddler. Going green poses challenges for grassroots bands with limited financial resources, she said. “Unless we get to a different level financially, there isn’t a whole lot more that we can do,” Elizabeth said. Her dream is for the band to purchase a biodiesel bus complete with solar panels.
Soul Majestic, a seven-member roots reggae band on tour to promote its new album, “Better World,” also uses biodiesel fuel, sells organic T-shirts, and produces recyclable CDs. Band members Eric Iverson and Oriana Sanders said they were originally motivated to take action when they witnessed first-hand the worsening air pollution in Los Angelese and the melting of Northern California’s glaciers.
With the help of Loatree, an environmental collective, the band also plans to repackage its two previous albums in recyclable material and has created a link on its website with tips on promoting a green lifestyle. “We’re hoping that we’re going to help lay a pathway for people to integrate (eco-consciousness) into their daily lives,” said David Forston, the band’s manager and founder of Loatree.
But going green requires a diligence that is sometimes hard to keep up, Iverson and Sanders acknowledged. “Sometimes we have to sacrifice certain comforts,” such as heat and paper towels, Sanders said. “It’s really easy to be lazy.”