'The Electric Revolution Is Upon Us!’
THE GREENING, an experimental psychedelic power-pop band from Northern California, will release their latest EP, '(SHE'S SO) ELECTRIC', on September 29 (ZaiRecords).
Marking the follow-up to their 2003 debut EP, AFTER SHOAL PARLOR, features four blisteringly catchy tunes and an encoded animated video for the single, "Sunday Afternoon," directed by renowned local artist/animator Danny Ochoa.
It was recorded at a private studio in Marin, and was produced and mixed by guitarist/vocalist Will Loving.
Exclusive Magazine recently sat with THE GREENING - singer/guitarist Will Loving, keyboardist/vocalist Karl Meischen, drummer Nick Tatro - to learn more about their new EP, Dire Straits, where they got their name from, and, of course, ... Penguins!
Taking it from the top and what were your musical influences growing up and how many still factor into your music today? [Karl]: "My very first musical influence growing up was Neil Diamond. Although I can't say I'm a big fan any longer, I can't deny how classic some of his earliest songs are, and he's an excellent performer. After that, I got into Elton John, The Beatles and Yes, and I'm still a HUGE fan of the latter two. As for Elton, all of his work from 1969-1976 I feel has a lot of merit, especially the underrated opus Blue Moves (fave Elton album). Those were my four earliest influences, and I was into all of them by the time I was only 3 (not kidding)!"
"Around 4th grade I started really digging deep into both Pink Floyd (thanks, Greg) and the Stones, and will always be grateful that I got into Floyd from Meddle, not Dark Side or The Wall or one of those, first. Not that their popular records don't hold a lot of value; I just appreciate stuff like Meddle, More and Obscured By Clouds more, especially after being submitted to classic rock radio all through high school and the earlier parts of this decade."
"I'd say that The Beatles and Yes still influence my songwriting to a degree, melding vocal harmonies and melodic elements from the former (although I prefer the Beach Boys' little known 1967-73 period over The Beatles well known 1967-1970 era) with the unexpected dynamic shifts and sheer musicality of the latter."
[Nick]: "I’m just now really understanding how deep some of the really ‘early’ stuff that my parents had around on vinyl set the stage for my interest in music. There were always lots of records around, everything from Paul McCartney to Kim Carnes and Boz Scaggs, bands that I don’t really cite as big influences today so much but I think had a lot to do with the subconscious forming around actual ‘songs.’ The part of The Greening’s music that always interested me was the way that the format focused on actual ‘songs’ that made sense, were not overly long or short, but told a little story."
[Will]: "In terms of real early influences, my Dad did a good job of getting my sister and I acquainted with a lot of classic 60s and 70s music – Beatles, The Kinks, The Doors, The Who, etc. Getting older and discovering the various stages of Pink Floyd through my friend Karl Kutka and some of my sister’s friends was an eye opener. Songs like “Wots…uh, the Deal,” and “Cymbaline” made definite impressions on my psyche. Saucerful of Secrets, and Syd Barret-era Floyd were iconic to me for a time."
"Smokey Robinson was pretty significant to me during college, and inevitably during a break up. Cornelius was a college find; his approach vibed very much with me personally – the ideas of mixing everything together in collage format, but still maintaining a unified feeling still resonates."
For the Average Joe who may not have heard your previous material, and was thinking of buying your latest EP ‘(She’s So) Electric,' how would you describe your sound? [Will]: "Well, we like to try a bit of everything. This particular EP is a bit more melodic and catchy, but in general we like to mix all possible elements together – experimental with accessible; catchy with chaotic. We’ve always had a love for good songwriting – a lot of which grew out of 60s pop and 70s art rock – but philosophically, more with the mentality of not limiting our options."
I really enjoyed the title track “(She’s So) Electric,” with its classic pop beats and smooth transitions… Which track off this EP are you most proud of and how does it feel to be able to share it with the public? [Nick]: "'She’s So Electric' was always one of my favorite Greening songs. I’ll never forget the day Karl came in with that little piano riff and I immediately just fell into that enunciated hi-hat part where it’s got to be played almost ‘behind’ the beat to sound poppy. Other than that one, they’re pretty much three ‘equal’ (and partial) representations of what is coming up off the LP in early 2010, ‘Today, Tomorrow’ being an EP only track."
[Karl]: "I'm most proud of "Belong With Me;" I think it's the best song on the EP, if "(SS)E" is still our most definitive moment (up to this point, at least). I just think it's a great pop mini-epic and love all the transitions. I, too, remember when I came to the rehearsal space (Will was out of town visiting family at that point) with "(SS)E" *just* written and playing it to Nick, who came up with that killer drum part right there and then. We were enjoying some post Christmas green and jamming on the thing, and it just CLICKED."
[Will]: "As the songwriter, I’d say I prefer “Sunday Afternoon.” But as the mixer, and overall – I’d say “Belong With Me.” Karl had some killer arrangements, and the harmonies tie really well together. Plus it was just fun to mix."
Tell us more about your latest release, '(She’s So) Electric ' ... does it tell a story and why that particular album title in general? [Karl]: "We've always felt "(She's So) Electric" just might be the definitive Greening song, so it was only natural to name this 4 song EP after it and put it first. It actually closes each of our live sets (and once you see us live you'll KNOW why!), and will also be closing the upcoming album. Beyond having the EP titled after our most recognizably Greening song, the energy of the EP, and The Greening in general, ARE electric, hence the parentheses."
How did you guys come up with the band name and what is The Greening? [Will]: "Actually, we didn’t. I’d done a couple years in jail for a wrongfully accused double homicide, and while in the clink, I’d read through most of their library options. In one of the books -- my favorite actually – “China’s Economic Revolution,” by Alexander Eckstein, there was a piece of paper that I used as a bookmark. On this piece of paper was written “The Greening” and the suffix “es” from a torn word I’ll never know. Anyway, I thought it was a cool word, and it stuck with me."
I love how you guys have a mission statement for the band… How has having a mission statement kept you on task and what is your strategy to see it through? [Will]: "It serves as a good general focal point. Inevitably, when you’re doing everything yourself from the ground up, you will overextend yourself at times. You will stray far out of your comfort zone, and often into areas where you don’t excel and feel incompetent. But, if you want to make progress, you have to do it. So, when you’re lost and far away from your original creative spark, it helps to have the reason why you started in the first place there to help guide you back and give you that overlord sense of where you’re going."
Indeed, how easy (or hard) is it to create a new, vibrant, wanted-by-the-public sound that both builds on and surpasses the musical wonderment's/accomplishments that preceded it within the industry? [Nick]: "When each person takes responsibility for perfecting their own craft(s), the overall sound just naturally develops on its own – that includes everything from production values, to song writing, to technical ability on their respective instrument, to anything else you want to throw in the mix. I’m not sure if we’re trying to create something ‘new’ so much as create something ‘timeless’ by borrowing elements of styles that people have enjoyed in the past. Your own signature and voice will automatically get stamped on whatever you’re creating if you’re putting effort into the endeavor."
Being an upcoming indie band with your own label (Zairecords) what has been the biggest surprise entering the industry and how did you overcome that challenge? [Nick]: "Probably no big surprise, but we’re learning quickly what it takes to deliver a package which appeals on many levels – not just the ‘listening’ one. Of course the original idea is to get the songs out, but today’s industry is even more driven by the ‘visual’ aspect of music presentation, which means everything from the way your t-shirts look to your music video style to the photography shot representing the band. All of it adds up to create something unique and special if you take the time to develop each one carefully and thoughtfully."
According to your website biography you’ve been saving your pennies to make a makeshift studio. How’s that project coming along? [Nick]: "The infrastructure and building of the studio was completed just about three years ago in late 2006, so it’s been something that has served as a rehearsal space and also a recording studio. Then it took a while to get the place treated for sound and prepped for actual recording. It seems like each round of songs that gets recorded there end up sounding better than the last. More and different equipment keeps coming into the room, so it’s gotten a little smaller as well…."
Do you guys ever venture outside of California to perform? Can I look forward to seeing you guys hit the Midwest? [Nick]: 'We’re definitely planning on being there (and hopefully a whole lot of other places) in support of the LP which will be released in early 2010."
If asked to record one for charity, what '80s (and possibly cheesy!) pop/rock song would you love to cover today ... and why?! [Nick]: "Karl has an odd fascination Dire Straits, so ask him."
[Karl]: "To clarify this, we have a little in-joke in The Greening revolving around ironically covering "Walk Of Life" as often as possible during rehearsal (in actuality, anywhere from the opening organ chords and a couple of bars of drums/guitar to a verse or so . . . we don't know how to play the whole song!) that's taken on a Very Autistic Life of It's Own. If we covered it, the reason would be "a joke you'll never get."
[Will]: "Karl’s being modest. We’ve actually concocted a Frankenstein of 80s songs which combines melodies and hooks from “Walk of Life,” J. Giles “Centerfold,” and Steele Dan’s “Reeling in the Years,” amongst others. Why we choose to do the walk? Beebopaloola tell me what I say? Put me in coach. I’m ready to play. Today."
Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine love Penguins ... do you?! [Karl]: "Penguins make the world go round!"
Interview: Ken Tebo
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