Shades of Colleen Green
Posted on July 30, 2012
When I chose to seek out Colleen Green for an interview in anticipation of her upcoming tour, which includes Chicago’s Empty Bottle on Sept. 18, I had no idea what a rocket pack of fun and interest she would be. Maybe I did. I have a way of picking them. And Green intrigued me the moment I received a Bottle email promoting her show. So Green obliged The Dodgy with an exclusive interview.
Musically, Green has been described many ways. But if someone asked her to describe her music she’d say it’s a cross between the Ramones and the Tom Tom Club. “Or I would say it sounds like the Ramones with a drum machine or something like that,” Green says.
Green recorded an album before she ever played a live show. In fact, she didn’t even want to do shows. She just wanted to make and put out music and have people listen to it. “Since I was by myself I was like, I can’t even play a show if I wanted to because I’m not a fucking singer/songwriter,” she says. “I’m not just gonna get up there with a fucking guitar – like, ‘oh, someone with a guitar and singing.’ That’s shit.”
Green’s change of heart came when Nobunny heard her music and asked her to play an L.A. show with him. Thus, her live debut was the Star Bar in downtown Los Angeles, March 2010.
Green lives in west L.A. but grew up in Massachusetts. Her first guitar was a Christmas present from her parents when she was 13. A guitar-playing uncle taught her the basics along with some songs she wanted to learn. Green liked Veruca Salt, wanted to be in a band and started going to local shows and getting into underground music. “I was into the Boston scene,” she says. During that time Green sported purple hair, wore Sublime T-shirts and worked at a Beantown record label. She also played basketball and softball. She was a good student. “I attended U-Mass Lowell and studied music and business. I have a BSBA in marketing.”
Since she began touring in 2010, Green has performed, for the most part, by herself. Just Green, her guitar – and a drum machine. In fact, if you Google search her images, you’ll find many of her crouched down on stage putting in different numbers or adjusting the tempos. “I used the machine when I recording and it’s supposed to be rock ‘n roll,” Green says of her decision to use it on stage. “I wanted there to be a beat, definitely.”
Green has been joined by a live drummer on occasion. But for the new tour, for the first time, she’ll be backed by a full band. Green has been rehearsing in San Diego with the Plateaus, her tour mates, who’ll double as her band – the CG Band.
“I was kind of thinking that I might not even be playing guitar,” she says. “We’ll have to practice first and I’ll have to see about not playing guitar. I’ve never done that before. I’ve never even played with more than one person before. Yea, it’s going to be really fucked up.”
Green says she’s shooting for a ten song playlist at the Empty Bottle show. “I really want to play a lot of songs I’ve never been able to play before because a lot of the songs just don’t sound good with only a guitar and a drum machine.”
“I don’t have the attention span to write like four songs in a day,” Green says. “I don’t know how many songs I’ve written in a day. Probably none.”
Green says sometimes a line of lyric will enter her head that she can’t stop thinking about and eventually the whole song will form around it. The topics she writes about are something that “usually pops into my head.”
“I’ll be thinking about stuff and then a catchy line will pop into my head out of the subject matter I’m thinking of. I’ll think about it more and start playing chords and singing or whatever,” she says.
Green writes one of the more interesting blogs by a musician I’ve ever read. Updating has been infrequent since she’s been twittering more (“you don’t have to sit and open a computer”) but lately she’s been back at it. She’s funny but honest. We talked about being honest in writing.
“It’s really scary,” she says. “It’s an idea I’ve been mulling over the last three years. I just want to be a good person. Become the best version of myself. I want to be happy. And I think that’s a really important part of the puzzle. It’s also the best way to get what you want out of life and get what you want out of relationships. I think a big problem with people in general and society is that we’re afraid to be honest because we’re afraid of what other people are going to think. It’s the reason a lot of people live their lives the way that they do. ‘Cause they’re afraid to just be honest with themselves and their friends and whatever. I want to advocate that idea and just kind of practice what I preach. I’m just going to be as honest as possible. Just go for it and put it all out there. I think people appreciate that a lot more.”
I told Green she has a book in her. “It’s a thought I’ve had for a real long time,” she says. “Writing has always come natural to me.” Green says she would love to illustrate children’s books or illustrate them for other people.
Usually at every show Green will be smoking weed somewhere. “I usually make sure I’m packing,” she says. “But it’s awesome when people have it.” She’s even sold pot while on tour. “It’s good to make money on the road,” she says.
~ Green says she was reading Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography. “It’s a really weird but I’m gonna keep on with it.” She read an excerpt from it over the phone.
~ Green has her own comic, Real Shit Daily.
~ A fan of cassette tapes, Green has recorded on them and sold them on tour. This time she’ll be hawking 12-inch records of her recent EPs. “Milo Goes to Compton” and “Cujo” for sure, and maybe for “Green One.”
~ Green’s popularity appears to be growing. Along with her music, her Twitter is a great follow. She promises not to become “a douche bag” no matter how far she rises.
~ I asked Green if she had an opportunity to play one music festival in the world, which one would she choose. The coolest one, she says. “Some place really crazy. It depends on the people doing it. If all the bands on it were shitty – no.” I thought she might be perfect for Chicago’s Pitchfork, but she didn’t share that sentiment. “Does it sound fun? It doesn’t sound fun for me,” she says. “The bands there…I wouldn’t have that much interest in being there, I don’t think. On the other hand, festivals pay a lot of money, so I probably would have to.”
~ If Green had to record a Christmas song it would Blink 182’s “Happy Holidays, You Bastard” or “It’s Christmas Time Again.”
~ Green says Empty Bottle is one of her favorite places to perform. She’d like to tour as much as possible and wants to start doing it overseas as well. “The whole reason you tour is to introduce yourself to new people and give them an opportunity to buy your music. I just want to share it with as many people as possible.”
~ The worst thing that’s happened to her at show: “Stupid stuff happens to me every day.”
~ The best thing that’s happened at a show: “It’s always fun and nice when people give me stuff.”
~ Green will be testing new material on the road. Songs that are likely to appear on an upcoming album.