Hitfix Interview: Zac Brown Band talks new Patagonia Music Collective also featuring Pearl Jam, Maroon5 and more

Today (March 1), Patagonia, the environmentally-friendly, outdoor clothing company, launches  the Patagonia Music Collective, a new online music store with exclusive tracks from such artists as Pearl Jam, Jack Johnson, Maroon 5, Bonnie Raittand Jon Cleary, Drive By Truckers, Brandi Carlile, Ben Sollee, The Bad Plus and Zac Brown Band. The tracks sell for 99 cents, with the net proceeds going to a non-profit environmental group of the acts choosing.

We talked to Zac Brown Band about their choice to get involved in the project and their chosen organization, Urban Farming, The group donated a live version of their song, “Cold Hearted,” the studio version of which is on its current album, “You Get What You Give.”  Many acts traveled the same path, offering live or acoustic versions of already available songs, while others selected previously unreleased tunes.

[More after the jump…]

The initial 22 tunes are available for individual download through Patagonia’s website, but have also been bundled into two volumes of 11 songs each.

“We”re really stoked to not only be part of something that other great musicians are involved with, but do something good for Urban Farming,” says ZBB”s Clay Cook. “We hope some of the cities can develop really better means for people to get fresh vegetables that”s not loaded up with pesticides.”

Urban Farming takes unused tracts of land in cities and plants gardens in them. For example, during the economic downturn, they took over some land that was initially earmarked for real estate, and have planted there until the property can be sold. They provide inner-city families with fresh vegetables and fruits at a low cost and can also teach them how to cultivate their own gardens.

Cook is a gentleman farmer himself, he adds, or was. ” I did have a garden and I moved recently to where I haven”t cultivated the ground yet because it”s winter.” He intends to plant as soon as he can, but worries that he won”t be there to take care of the garden given the band”s hectic touring schedule.

These are heady days for Zac Brown Band. The group just captured a Grammy on Feb. 13 for best country collaboration with vocals for “As She”s Walking Away” with Alan Jackson. That”s on top of winning best new artist at last year”s Grammy Awards. “The fact that we won against our entire genre of country music, it was pretty cool to win that one,” says Cook of the newest trophy.  It may not be too environmentally friendly, but Brown got a little something extra for the song”s success that won”t fit on a mantel. “When the song went No. 1, Alan gave Zac an old Cadillac to show his appreciation for being part of the song,” Cook says.

ZBB will kick off a new tour March 17 at the Houston Livestock Rodeo. Its 2011 schedule also includes nine co-headlining stadium dates with Kenny Chesney, starting March 19 at Tampa”s Raymond James Stadium. The concerts are spread out throughout the next several months. In between, ZBB will headline its own dates.

“In essence, it”s the same thing we”ve been doing for the past three years,” Cook says,  “just on a bigger scale.” Along with the growing number of hits, the band always finds time to throw in a few surprises and jams. “Everything outside of the [hits] is fair fame and we can come up with something that will blow people”s minds. We just try to come up with a great show that relies on us being great musicians, as opposed to having backing tracks and synced-up lights. The goal is to have people happy and worn out at the end of the show.”