Prepare to liberate your inner animal, music lovers. ALO plays the Crown Room at Crystal Bay Casino on Friday, Feb. 17, making its regular stop on the band’s annual Tour D’ Amour.
“Every Tour D’ Amour we do a show there,” guitarist Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz said. “They’re always so fun, we have such a great time. We’ve been coming there forever now, this is our 11th Tour D’ Amour and I’m pretty sure we’ve been to Tahoe on every single one. We love it.”
ALO is Lebowitz, Zach Gill (keys), Steve Adams (bass) and Dave Brogan (drums), with all four contributing vocally. Lebowitz, Gill, and Adams grew up together, and met Brogan while attending UC Santa Barbara.
“We’ve been the same band since I was 13, and I’m 42 now, so that’s been going awhile,” Lebowitz said.
The group’s name has nothing to do with eco-friendly political views.
“It’s like, liberate your inner animal,” Lebowitz said. “When we were all going to school we were music majors and we played in a ton of different ensembles and orchestras, so our band was always like that’s the one we do in our garage, it’s where we get our yayas out, it’s sort of like let your inner animal out.”
Another dorm-mate of the band’s was well-known solo artist Jack Johnson.
“We just got to know him, you know another musician,” Lebowitz said. “There were a handful of musicians living in the dorms probably two or three bands worth. He was in one band and we had our band, and we used to do shows together and whatnot.”
After graduating, the musicians moved to the Bay Area. Upon finishing their first record in 2004, Johnson invited them to release it with his label, Brushfire Records. The group has released all of its records with Johnson, with the most recent, “Tangle of Time,” in 2015.
ALO recently released an E.P. entitled “Love Songs,” with romantically themed cover songs selected by each member, in support of their annual February tour.
“It’s pretty wide ranged, there’s a Curtis Mayfield song on there, there’s a New Order song on there. You know the song ‘Happy Together,’ I think it’s by the Turtles. It’s kind of all over the map, eighties, sixties, seventies.”
While they enjoy a cover tune or two, the lads of ALO are primarily focused on their own original tunes.
“We’re a rock and roll band. We’re really into songs, but were also really into improvising, so we like to stretch out and kind of explore the space. I would call it patient,” Lebowitz said.
“We’re kind of a jam band, I’m not gonna lie,” the guitarist said. “We’re a four-piece rock and roll band that likes to stretch out, and we love a good singalong. Our songs are all vocal songs but we stretch out on them live. We don’t really have instrumentals, I mean we have one or two, but they’re not songs that are played regularly in the set list.
“But we like to get to the end of a song and just kind of see where it goes and maybe make our way into another song, that’s what I mean by patient, kind of take our time and in that way we try to make each night unique. We always change the set list, you’ll never see us play the same set two nights. We’ve got a lot of songs too, now. Since we’ve been together for so long we can really rotate songs, which is fun for us because it keeps it fun for us, and for our fans too, because lots of our fans come to multiple shows.”
More fans will have that opportunity this year, as ALO has aimed its winter tour into more northerly climes.
“This tour is exciting because we’ve extended our Tour D’ Amour this year,” Lebowitz said. “In the past we’ve never taken it up into the Northwest, but this year we’re doing shows in Portland and Seattle, so that’s exciting.”
The group also recently announced a series of summer dates with Jack Johnson, including a show at Harvey’s Outdoor Arena on July 28, on his first major tour since 2014.
The members of ALO all keep a full roster of other musical collaborations, as well. Lebowitz was on his way to play with Phil Lesh when Tahoe Onstage spoke with him.
“Everyone in the band has got a whole bunch of projects,” he said. “We are all very full time musicians, keep our schedules pretty busy. But it’s real special whenever we do ALO, because that’s the thing here we can kind of just close our eyes and play cause we’ve been playing together for so long.
“It’s family, you know what I mean? Among all the other awesome opportunities we all get, I think we all share that feeling that ALO is like family, it’s like coming home to Thanksgiving dinner.”
Fans can be confident that these boys will be back in the kitchen before too long.
“We’ll probably start working on another album of original music soon, because that’s what we do,” Lebowitz said. “We’ve been doing it since we were kids.”
Here at Tahoe Onstage, we have a profound commitment to serious, hard-hitting, critically motivated journalism, so it was with a deep sense of gravity that we asked Lebowitz: “Do people ever confuse you guys with AOL?”
“It used to happen,” he said with a chuckle. “In the original days, people would, all the time when they announced the band name, would say ‘up next is AOL,’ but it’s kind of rare now, it’s become a rare occurrence.
“It’s funny, most millennials don’t even know what AOL (America Online) is any more. We always joked, back then, we were like, ‘we’re gonna outlast them.’ I said it kind of sarcastically, but I think we kind of are. In a few more years, all the kids will surely have never heard of it.
“I’m pretty sure, wait a few more years. Now I’m confident we’re gonna outlast them.”
Opener: Rabbit Wilde
When: 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17
Where: Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room
Tickets: $22 in advance, $27 on the day of the show
Red Room after-party: Big Sticky Mess