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The Li-MITLESS ENERGY Podcast: Tom Green Goes Off the Grid

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Making the move from decades in Hollywood to farm life in Canada, Canadian-American comedian, host, actor, podcaster, and (now) off-grid dweller, Tom Green, talks about his life on a 100-acre property that’s far off the beaten path. 

From Hollywood to Farm Life

Tom Green and Denis Phares standing next to solar panels and a chicken

While living in Los Angeles, comedian Tom Green rented a Boho Van and spent weeks at a time traveling around the western United States. With his off-grid recording studio in his van, Tom fell in love with the ability to continue his work while enjoying more remote places. So, he left Hollywood behind to embrace the simplicity of farm life near his hometown in eastern Canada.  On his remote, 100-acre property, he’s enjoying life away from the city with his pup Charley and other beloved animals. With the help of reliable, off-grid power from Battle Born Batteries, Tom can continue his illustrious career while enjoying the serenity of being surrounded by nature.  

In the latest episode of the Li-MITLESS ENERGY Podcast, Denis heads out to explore Tom Green’s new property and chats with him about transitioning to the off-grid lifestyle. Tom sheds light on why he left LA to go off-grid and talks about how adopting renewable energy and switching to an off-grid lifestyle enhances his creativity, innovation, and overall inspiration. Denis and Tom also touch on our technological and economic opportunities when shifting to green energy, especially around Canadian and American national security. 

Listen to the full episode wherever you stream podcasts or watch the recording through our YouTube channel. Keep up with Tom through his Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, website, and podcast.


Podcast Transcript

Tom Green  0:00 

Lots of wildlife out here. I’m not saying we’re in danger right now, but there’s bears, and then, there are woods, Denis, right back there.

Denis Phares  0:09 


Tom Green  0:10 

And they swim too. They can swim out to the island here. We’re not safe here, Denis.

Denis Phares  0:34 

Hello, welcome to the Limitless Energy podcast. And this is a pretty unique episode today because we are located outside of Tom Green’s property in Canada. And my guest today is comedian, musician, producer, director, Tom Green.

Tom Green  0:50 

Hey, thanks, Denis. This is awesome.

Denis Phares  0:52 

Thank you so much.

Tom Green  0:52 

Great to be here. This is so cool. I’ve been having a lot of fun hanging out with you guys over the last few days.

Denis Phares  0:57 

Well, you’ve got a great story that ties into a lot of what we’re trying to do here, which is promote renewable energy, green living, and how batteries plays into that. And let’s talk about, first of all, when you first left Los Angeles a couple of years ago, and you decided to go completely off-grid, how did you come up with that decision and how did that go for you?

Tom Green  1:21 

Yeah. It was right at the beginning of the COVID worldwide global pandemic. And I had canceled my Stand-up tour because all the shows were shutting down at that time. And I’d had a year of touring booked, and I found myself with some time on my hands. I started thinking about what I would do with that time, and I basically discovered boho vans, Boho Camper Vans, a friend of mine…

Denis Phares  1:57 

We know them well.

Tom Green  1:58 

Mm-hmm. Absolutely. And that’s how I found you guys because they introduced me to Battle Born Batteries. And I was really kind of… That was what kind of solidified the idea of getting this van and going out to the desert because I wanted to go out into the desert. I was living in Los Angeles, I wanted to go into the desert and do some filming. And when I found out that I could actually… And actually, was recording music, and when I found out I could actually build a recording studio in a van, and go off-grid into the middle of nowhere, and just get creative…

Denis Phares  2:40 

And you decided to bring Charley.

Tom Green  2:42 

Charley, yeah. Charley’s actually three years old. I got Charley at the same time as I got the van. I adopted Charley, she’s a rescue from the Bahamas. And she was brought into California through a rescue agency in California called Thrive, which is a cool agency that brings in stray street dogs from the Caribbean, and Mexico. And it’s actually on Jimmy Durante’s ranch, the famous entertainer in San Diego. His daughter runs this rescue agency. And yeah, so I got Charley who was not named Charley at the time, but I adopted… When my dad heard I was adopting a dog, and getting a van, and going to go out on this sort of camping adventure, he said, “Oh, you should name the dog Charley, like ‘Travels with Charley’ by John Steinbeck.” And, I was like, “I’d never read the book.” I read the book and I named her Charley. C-H-A-R-L-E-Y, by the way, which is on Instagram, @charleythepotcakedog. Potcake is sort of the name for the dogs that they give stray dogs out in the Caribbean. They’re called potcakes because the Bahamian people feed all the local dogs burnt rice cakes, and they call them potcakes, and they’re potcake dogs. So, I named her Charley after ‘Travels with Charley.’ We went out in the desert, and I built a recording studio on my van, and really was doing a lot of fun content for my YouTube channel.

Denis Phares  4:18 

How long were you out there?

Tom Green  4:19 

Well, because I was living in Los Angeles at the time, I would go out for a couple of weeks, and then I’d go back home, and take a shower, and then go back out again. So, I was going out into Arizona, and California, and Nevada, and New Mexico, Texas, and Utah. Going to all sorts of interesting spots.

Denis Phares  4:41 

Right. You were looking to get away from people, to be alone, to be creative?

Tom Green  4:48 

Yeah. I was kind of looking to kind of… I’ve always loved photography, I’ve always done video, I’ve always made music, and I’ve always been interested in technology. I built a TV studio in my living room in the early 2000s. I called it Webo Vision, but it was basically an early form of a podcast. Before that, my show on MTV, The Tom Green show was me running around with a home video camera doing crazy pranks and stunts. And that was sort of in the early ‘90s when that started, and was on MTV in 1999, but it started in Canada in the early ‘90s. And that was kind of a new idea, I guess, to take a home video camera and make a TV show out of it. So, I’ve always been kind of really looking at what’s happening with technology and how it can be used to make video and music. And so, it kind of spiraled a little bit. I didn’t wake up one day and say, “I want to go out in the desert for a year and make music,” but it was more like I discovered the van, I discovered the batteries, and built the studio. And once I’d spent all this sort of time putting the studio together in the van, I just sort of got really addicted to going out into the desert, and exploring, and finding really amazing places in the desert. So yeah.

Denis Phares  6:16 

Well, you of all people, given your history, should understand how this type of portable power and your access to energy can change how you were used to behaving, how you were used to creating content and making art.

Tom Green  6:31 

Yeah. Like, one of the first road trips I did when I was starting the Tom Green show in Canada before it was an MTV was, we drove across Canada in a Ford econo-line van. And it was myself and two of my friends, and we just wanted to take off on the road to film videos. But we’d have to stop every day and charge our batteries up, we’d have to charge our camera batteries up, we’d have to get a hotel room every night to charge because we didn’t have any way of charging our batteries up. So, that was sort of a limiting factor. And so, it’s sort of surreal to me that you could go… Here, we’re on an island right now, we just canoed out to an island. And we could stay here indefinitely with this incredible device that you’ve brought here, and it’s amazing to me. And it was equally amazing when I was out in the middle of the desert in Arizona in a van unable to charge my camera batteries, charge my phone up — although I didn’t have cell service most of the places I went — make music, I had a whole recording studio. It was really, really, really kind of exciting thing because I find I get a lot more creative when I go places that are off the beaten track because you feel like you’re doing something different. You feel like you’re going to a place that not everybody has been before. And so, even if you’re doing comedy, it’s kind of fun to do comedy in a place where the background and the visuals are unique, and interesting to people. So, it’s been kind of a rabbit hole I’ve really started going down when I got the van, and that’s how I ended up meeting you and you guys, so it’s been cool.

Denis Phares  8:37 

Yeah. Well, given where we are right here, it does seem like you went down a rabbit hole a bit. You were going in and out of LA in a van, and going out in the desert, and we’re now in rural Canada. And you are looking at getting more access to power, but off-grid power.

Tom Green  8:59 

Yeah, because we’re in sort of a remote area. And I found a farm up here, and after about a year of traveling around in my van in the desert, I just sort of started thinking about my life differently. And I wanted to be closer to my parents who are doing well and live nearby here. And so, I sold my house in Los Angeles after 20 years in Los Angeles, and I found this farm up here. I have a mule and a donkey now, and some chickens, and Charley, and we’re really enjoying living out being close to nature and close to my family. I’m sort of doing a lot more outdoor country-type life activities; canoeing, and fishing…

Denis Phares  9:51 

But still active. Still filming, still… Comedy, and all that stuff.

Tom Green  9:56 

Yeah. I have a new television show I’m working on now that I’m directing and producing, and a podcast that we’re going to be relaunching. I have a podcast called ‘The Tom Green podcast.’ When I was in the van, I did a separate one called ‘Tom Green’s Van Life.’ That’s also still… You can still listen to that. You can listen to all these podcasts that I recorded out in the desert in the van. I had Ray Romano phoned in, Brad Garrett phoned in. All sorts of other great people phoned into my show. Actually, interviewed Ray Romano, and I think I was in the middle of the desert somewhere when I interviewed him, or Brad Garrett, maybe it was in the middle of the desert somewhere when I interviewed him, which was really kind of neat to be able to do a fully broadcastable production from the middle of nowhere. So, that sort of started getting my wheels turning a little bit. And I was thinking, I’ve been living in Los Angeles for 20 years, I didn’t really feel like I had to live in Los Angeles anymore. I’m not from Los Angeles, I moved there when I was 29 years old, and I’ve been there for 20 years. Not just with battery technology, but with just the internet and everything else has made everything so much more accessible that I felt like I could come back and live near where I grew up, and still continue to work in the comedy business just as well as if I was in the center of Hollywood.

Denis Phares  11:26 

Mm-hmm. Well, I did live in Los Angeles myself, I moved away when I was 39, about 11 years ago now. And I was in academia, I was a professor, and I left. I moved up to Reno to start a company, and a lot of my colleagues thought I was a little nuts to do that. And I’m wondering if any of yours were like, “What the hell is he doing? Is he going nuts?” What’s the reaction from the industry for you?

Tom Green  11:52 

It’s interesting. Well, I’ve got a really incredible group of people that I work with and they’re all very supportive of me. I talked to my friends, and I have a manager named Roy. His name’s Roy Rosengarten, he’s also the executive producer of my television show. He produced ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ as well. He’s one of the great comedy producers and managers, and a legend, really. And so, I asked him, I did ask him before I moved, “Do you think I could live in Canada?” He lived in New York, in Long Island the entire time he was producing Everybody Loves Raymond and would fly down to Los Angeles when he was doing the show. But you pretty much can be anywhere you want.

Denis Phares  12:44 

It doesn’t matter anymore. Actually, a lot of folks are leaving Los Angeles and continuing.

Tom Green  12:48 

Yeah. For me, personally, it wasn’t so much about me wanting to leave Los Angeles as much as it was more about me wanting to be close to my family, and close to this kind of nature where I grew up. It’s very familiar to me. I like fishing, and canoeing, and being out in the wilderness. We’re still close to cities here, I could drive to New York in an hour and a half, New York State. I could drive to Montreal, or Toronto, or Ottawa where I’m from, it’s very close. So, it’s not like I’m moved off to a cabin in the woods and I’m not communicating with anybody, I still can drive doing stand-up, I can drive to shows. In some ways, I feel like I’m actually less isolated now than I was when I was in Los Angeles because, in Los Angeles, I was a 55-hour drive away from my family, and now, I’m a 30-minute drive away from my family. I can get on a plane and go to Los Angeles if I need to go there.

Denis Phares  13:59 

Well, it seems pretty satisfying on a personal level. Do you feel any need to talk about this kind of lifestyle on a wider scale, or promote green energy, renewable energy? What are your thoughts on that?

Tom Green  14:14 

Yeah, for sure. I do talk about quite a bit on my podcast, and my YouTube channel, and my new show that I’m doing. It’s going to be coming out next year, which kind of revolves around my life out here in the country. And yeah, I’m certainly somebody that cares a lot about the planet, and I care a lot about… I like to protect what we have as much as possible. And I think if more people understood that they could get off fossil fuels in some ways, I think that would be not the worst message to get out there this time. I think we’re starting to see… Everyone’s starting to see real direct impact of climate change now. And we’ve had a lot of fires up here in Canada this summer, and that’s directly affecting everyone in one way or the other, everyone’s feeling the effects of climate change. And so, whether you believe in man-made climate change or not, which I understand some people don’t believe in that, you could still kind of think to yourself, “Well, maybe it might still be a good idea anyways,” right?

Denis Phares  15:42 

Yeah. Well…

Tom Green  15:43 

I don’t want to get all political.

Denis Phares  15:43 

I don’t want to get political.

Tom Green  15:44 

I don’t want to get all political.

Denis Phares  15:47 

Really? Well, I think that regardless of whether you’re leaning one way or the other, the opportunity is there. There’s a technological opportunity, there’s an economic opportunity. And especially when it comes to Canadian and American national security, there is a great opportunity to ensure that we’re able to be self-sufficient in terms of how we make electricity. And that turns into an economic opportunity. Like for Dragonfly Energy, we’re looking to, for example, onshore the production of the cells, the battery packs, which we do now. And it’s our belief that it’s going to be a big part in the coming two, three decades, to be able to do everything in-house. Buy in-house, I mean domestically.

Tom Green  16:42 

Making the batteries and…

Denis Phares  16:45 

Getting the raw material. Making cells, assembling the batteries. And that presents an opportunity. And energy has always been a huge part of our lifestyle. And what’s interesting for you, as well, is you’re not getting all rustic in that you’re trying to… You like technology. You’re using technology.

Tom Green  17:05 

Yeah. I don’t think I am. I have a recording studio that I’m recording…

Denis Phares  17:10 

That’s the point. You like technology, and you’re using that to be creative.

Tom Green  17:14 

Yeah. To me, that’s kind of like the real thrust of why I enjoy the technology that we’re using here today, it’s because it allows me to go places that I wouldn’t normally be able to go and to document them with my camera. And it’s kind of a neat opportunity because no one’s ever been really able to do that before, to be able to come out here. We’re on an island, we could come out here and I could set up my recording studio right here on this island and hang out here for as long as I want, and write music, and make films. That’s kind of going to inspire new ideas that you wouldn’t have come up with before because, sometimes, you’ll think of something that you would never have thought of when you get out of your routine. That’s what happened to me when I went out into the desert. I was so inspired by just the natural beauty of everything around me that now you’re sort of more of a relaxed place, your mind’s thinking about things that you’re not normally thinking about, you’re outside of your daily routine. Not to mention just putting the studio together and making the technology work for what I want to do, that kind of always has inspired creativity for me. When I was a kid, I was in a rap group, when I was a teenager, and part of the reason I wanted to get into a rap group — I started rapping with my friend, but the real thing was, back in the ‘80s, you remember electronic music was a brand new thing. And so, you hear this rap music and electronic music, and go, “Why do those drums sound different?” And it sounded so interesting to me, so I started trying to figure out how they made it and I discovered drum machines, and discovered keyboards, and computers. I had an Atari 520 ST computer, sequencing Akai S900 sampler, and a Yamaha drum machine. Rolling the keyboard. And so, all of a sudden, my interest in the technology, just trying to figure out how to put all these things together, sort of led me to a place where, “Oh, now I have to do something with it.” So, now you’re making songs. You’re making songs that you would have not made otherwise because you wouldn’t have maybe… I was as interested in making the sounds and things work as I was in actually writing. I was never really somebody that wanted to be a musician. As a kid, I didn’t pick up a guitar and learn how to play guitar till much later. I didn’t want to learn how to play piano when I was a kid. But as soon as I saw those drum machines, and the computers, I was like, “Wow, I want to figure that out.” So then, in the course of figuring out that stuff, which was really interesting to me, I said, “Oh, maybe I got to figure out how to make music now, and I may be able to write some lyrics.” So, that’s the same thing with video, right? You go out to the desert with unlimited supply of battery, and you go, “Now I’ve got to go somewhere interesting with this van which has my studio in it.” And so, you start looking for interesting places to go that are remote that you can sort of, “I’m going to go try and make a video and record a song in somewhere that no one’s ever done a song before.” So, you drive out to the middle of Utah, and to a crazy, incredibly remote, beautiful desert. And once you get there, and you’re all set up, you go, “Well, I guess I have to actually make a video now.” And then, you end up making a pretty cool video because you’re filming things that maybe nobody’s ever filmed before in that way.

Denis Phares  21:04 

Well, just canoeing up to the shore here on this remote island with all the power in the canoe. I could see your wheels turning just walking around and looking around, and would you say it actually has enhanced your creativity, or were you already headed in that direction by making a change like this?

Tom Green  21:23 

Well, I remember when I moved here, I was talking to you guys about how I have a barn that’s pretty far from power. And I was like, “It’d be cool to get some power in my barn, and it’d be cool to get something in the barn that’s sort of like what I have in the van, but just for the barn.” And so, we all started talking, and then that led to the thought of like, “Well, there’s all these lakes around here.” And there’s like millions of lakes in Canada. There’s so much water here that you can travel deep, deep, deep into the wilderness and be completely off-road, completely isolated from society in a way. It’s called portaging, right? You can canoe across the lake. And then, you pick up your canoe and your stuff, and you walk to the next lake. And now, once you’ve gone three lakes in, you’re getting to places where, sometimes, no one’s ever been before. Literally, there’s places you could go that nobody’s ever been before or very, very few people. So, that’s always been inspiring to me to try to capture something on film that nobody’s really seen before, and go somewhere that’s certainly off the beaten track. So, when you guys said we could make something to put in a canoe, and it really sort of made me think, “That’s really kind of an amazing thing,” because you can go so far on a van, and you can go to some really cool remote places in a van, but you still got there on a road, and other people will come driving down that road. But now, with the rig that we got here in the canoe, I plan on going to some places that I can legitimately feel like I may be the only person that’s ever been there, and can stay there for an extended period of time, a few weeks, and fish, and write, and make films, and make music, and kind of just enjoy the… I feel it’s kind of an absurdity. Like, I find it’s absurd to me to do it, which is also what’s inspiring to me. It might not be everybody’s reason for doing this stuff, but, to me, I find it’s sort of hilarious too to be able to go to the middle of nowhere and record a country album or make a short film. And if you understand the limitations of electronic media, you still always have to have power, right? So, to me, if, all of a sudden, I know that I’m literally somewhere that is so far off the grid that I could never possibly have had power even just a few years ago, or maybe even just a few months ago, who knows? That’s hilarious to me. There’s an absurdity to that, which is what’s inspiring because I feel like, “Oh, we could actually be doing something that no one’s ever done before,” which has always kind of been what sort of driven me, to try to do something with technology in a way that maybe we’re doing something that nobody’s ever done before.

Denis Phares  24:53 

Right. Right. And actually, part of what you’re doing now, you’re doing something that people don’t expect someone like you would be doing. I think there’s that notion that you come out here, and you’re doing something that you’ve never really done before, but you’re sort of diving headfirst into it. And that alone is inspiring and could inspire other people to be like, “Well, okay, I’ve never done this, but it’s something I’ve always been intrigued by.” I know you grew up in these parts, but living like this is relatively new to you.

Tom Green  25:25 

Well, the new part for me is the mule and the donkey. I have a mule named Fanny, and I have a donkey named Kia. And that’s definitely very new. As a kid, and growing up in Canada, my dad was military and liked going out into the wilderness and canoes, and fishing. And so, I did grow up doing a lot of that stuff. And that’s sort of something that I’ve always loved. But it’s almost like I had to make a choice. It’s like, “Okay, if you want to be out in nature, then I can’t really necessarily be doing what I like to do with filmmaking, and music, and things like that.” But now, to just combine those two things is pretty funny to me. But yeah, it’s sort of new again. I moved to Los Angeles for 20 years, and then you come back, and you’re sort of relearning a lot of things that you remember from growing up. And then, combining it with the technology is kind of neat. It’s really interesting. I think that a lot of people probably would have a lot more traditional uses for this technology. I don’t think it’s just for people that want to go build a recording studio in the Arctic Circle, or something like that. That sounds funny to me, but I’m just thinking as somebody that, if I wasn’t doing it for the creative reasons, it’s just an incredible thing to think that I could go to a hunting camp, or a fishing camp, and be off-grid, and have power to charge my cell phone, or my computer, or run a few lights, or do whatever you would want power for in that kind of place. So yeah. I just was amazed that you could actually run as much stuff off of battery power. That was what really shocked me when I got the van. I knew you could have a battery, and have a few lights, and stuff, but to run an entire recording studio? I had like 17 different electronic components all chained together into these. Compressors, microphones, preamps, interfaces, and keyboards, drum machines, lights, video cameras, computers, cell phones, all running off of solar power in the middle of the desert. That was a shock to me two and a half years ago when I figured out that you could do that, three years ago when I figured out you could do that. I had no idea, which was sort of surprising because I like to kind of understand what’s possible. And so, I would assume that a lot of other people who could really use that kind of technology have no idea that it exists.

Denis Phares  28:22 

Right. Well, it’s kind of old hat for us, but all this is very inspiring to me personally. So, I just want to thank you so much for your time, and being on this podcast, and for all your hospitality in getting us out here.

Tom Green  28:46 

Yeah. It’s been great having you. It’s fun to have people come visit the farm, and go do some things that you might not normally get to do. Explore the Canadian woods and lakes. People probably don’t even really have a full understanding of where we are right now. We’re not driving home here, we’re going to get back in a canoe…

Denis Phares  29:10 

I think we’ll get back.

Tom Green 29:14 

Yeah. This island here is Crown land, it’s not owned by anybody. We’re in the wilderness. You saw my trail cams at the farm, my woods there. There’s lots of wildlife out here. I’m not saying we’re in danger right now, but there’s bears, and then, there are woods, Dennis back there.

Denis Phares  29:38 


Tom Green  29:40 

And they swim too. They can swim out to the island here. We’re not safe here, Dennis. We’re not safe.

Denis Phares  29:47 


Tom Green  29:48 

No, no, it’s fine. Bears are more afraid of us than we are of them.

Denis Phares  29:54 

I feel a little overdressed. I wore a button-down shirt, I didn’t know what to expect today.

Tom Green 29:56 

It’s nice.

Denis Phares  29:58 

I canoed all the way out here well dressed. So, I guess that’s how I roll.

Tom Green  30:01 

Absolutely, yeah. That’s good. I think there’s a lot of fashion in the canoe world now. People are pretty fashionable now with that. You’re making me feel bad now about just wearing this… Actually, this is a nice T-shirt, my friend makes this T-shirt, but maybe I should have dressed up too. I should have thought about that. I didn’t mean any disrespect to the show by just wearing a T-shirt, I should have put on a tie or something.

Denis Phares  30:24 

Yeah, I think we’ll get over it. But thanks for your time, and what a great episode. Thanks so much for joining us today. Tom Green on The Limitless Energy podcast.

Tom Green  30:36 

Oh, yeah. And Charley.

Denis Phares  30:39 

And Charley.

Tom Green  30:40 

Charley the potcake dog. Look how good she’s been. She’s all nestled in there with you in…

Denis Phares  30:45 

I’m flattered. She seems to like me.

Tom Green  30:49 

Good girl.

Denis Phares  30:50 

Be sure to subscribe on any of your favorite podcast platforms.

Tom Green  30:55 

Thanks, man. Bye.



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