Chuck Leavell, keyboardist for The Rolling Stones and co-founder of MNN, sits down with the Indigo Girls to chat about the complexities of touring with biofuel. Chuck also chats with them about Rock for a Remedy, a charity food drive they're involved with. (Video by Hibbotte)

Related on MNN: Chuck chats with the Indigo Girls about their work with Native Americans.

Want more? Watch all of Chuck's interviews.


Chuck: And I know that you guys also have a personal commitment when you go on tour and you’re using the bus, you use biodiesel. And what other things do you do to try to keep the carbon footprint low?
Indigo Girls: Well, we’re not using biodiesel right at this current moment because, well, there’s a lot of reasons.

Indigo Girls: Yeah.

Indigo Girls: But the main, one of the reasons was …

Chuck: It’s not always easy to find for one thing.

Indigo Girls: Well, we were finding it and we had, you know, we had people helping us and we had a real, like a schedule of where everything was and we had it delivered to us. You know, we were doing a lot of that. But, then the corn issue came up.

Chuck: Oh, yes.

Indigo Girls: And the, you know, crops for food instead of …

Chuck: Food versus fuel.

Indigo Girls: Yeah. So we sort of, we stepped back from that a little bit. Not that people shouldn’t do it, but we wanted to look at that in a deeper way.

Chuck: But still, I think it’s important and I’m sure you agree, to try to get away from that foreign oil thing.

Indigo Girls: Oh, yeah.
Chuck: You know, do everything we can to …

Indigo Girls: We need to get away from oil based traveling. There’s no doubt about it.

Chuck: Right.

Indigo Girls: But I think we, yeah, and I think…

Chuck: Maybe there’ll be a hybrid bus soon. I would like that.

Indigo Girls: Well, not just that but like really making biodiesel from, you know, recycled oil.

Chuck: Exactly.

Indigo Girls: From food production, fried foods and, you know, whatever, you know.

Chuck: Exactly.

Indigo Girls: And from what we were saying, like, wood chips.

Chuck: We were talking about it from wood chips. That technology is maybe not quite here yet but they’re working on it and I think it will be here, so, to use cellulosic material.

Indigo Girls: Instead. Exactly. Like sugar cane has been a really successful thing in South America. But we do other stuff like…

Indigo Girls: Well, we have a — there’s absolutely no Styrofoam. You know, we just, everything is recyclable. We most recently got rid of the single little plastic bottles of water and just things like that. Just recycling everything that we use backstage.

Chuck: Using little squirrelly light bulbs at home, and all that.

Indigo Girls: Oh, yeah.

Indigo Girls: All that stuff. Just focusing on as little waste as possible in terms of food and what’s in the dressing room and just little things like that, that can add up.

Chuck: That’s great. Well, thanks for doing that. That’s so great that you’re setting an example for other artists.

Indigo Girls: Oh, I mean touring has a huge impact. Touring has a really big carbon footprint.

Chuck: I know.

Indigo Girls: We offset — are touring too with …

Chuck: You do, don’t you?

Indigo Girls: Yeah.

Chuck: Contribute to plant trees and such.

Indigo Girls: And wind power. A lot of our carbon offsets go to wind power. But, you know, for us it feels like a drop in the bucket ‘cause we know that a lot of the…

Chuck: Every little bit helps.

Indigo Girls: Yeah. Yeah. It does help. No, we do everything we can.

Chuck: That’s great.

Indigo Girls: But we have an understanding about everything else that needs to get done.

Chuck: Well, now there’s something you’ve been involved with called Rock for a Remedy. Is that correct? Tell me what that is.

Indigo Girls: They’re a group that helps organize food drives and they have helped us. We started in our spring and throughout the summer touring season and they helped us hook up with the local food shelters because of the dire straights in the economy. There are many, many people who can’t feed themselves and the food banks have been overly taxed in terms people needing food because of what’s going on in the economy. So they hook us up with local food banks and then, and also, for the pets, because so many pets, people are getting rid of their animals or turning them into shelters or can’t feed them as well. So they also hooked us up with like The Humane Society and different shelters and animal welfare groups and our fans brought food. They brought people food and they brought pet food. And then, volunteers helped distribute that food to either the pet shelters or to the food banks and according to them, it was their most successful tour ever. We’re really, really happy about that. The fans, not only did they bring food but they contributed money and, you know, it takes a very small contribution to go a long way when you’re providing food for people like that.

Chuck: That’s right.

Indigo Girls: So, just every night, it was just the tremendous spirit of sense of community. We realized that people are out there hurting and this is a way to bring us all together and keep us mindful of people who can’t feed themselves, you know, while the rest of us are more fortunate in terms of that. So, it’s a way to join communities. Rock for a Remedy organized all that and it was very, very successful. It was a really good thing.

Chuck: Wonderful. Well, it’s just so wonderful that you guys engage in all these things. And so, you know, let me just wind up by saying, thanks for the music. Thanks for the great work. And thanks for being with us here on MNN today. Really appreciate it.

Indigo Girls: Same back to you, Chuck.

Indigo Girls: Well, we go back a long way, Chuck. We really appreciate your talent and your gift to the earth. So, thanks a lot.