Photo By Célina Pinget
I’m sitting in James Green’s living room in his East Van home listening to Leonard Cohen on vinyl when he turns to me and admits that this is his very first interview and he is a little nervous about it. I find this interesting as James is a really friendly, talkative guy but when it comes to his music he seems to want his music to do the talking for him. Talking about himself in relation to his music is very new to him as he has played diverse roles in bands as a drummer and bassist but the spotlight has never completely shined solely on him. Never Ready is one of my favourite releases of last year and despite the name James is most definitely ready to take this giant step in his musical career.
CG: You have played bass, drums and guitar in various projects over the years…Did You Die, Buffaloswans, The Godspot, and Weathering Highs to name a few. Is this the first time you have ever been a front person playing guitar and singing your own tunes?
JG: With the exception of a song here and there over the years it’s the first time I’ve ever put a band together to play my own songs.
CG: When did you first start writing these songs?
JG: ‘Ten Years Younger’ was written in the winter of 2012 and shortly after I wrote the song ‘Nails’. So that would have been the beginnings of this. After I had a handful more I booked the studio about six months in advance. In that time I just kept writing and things came together at the last minute, like literally the night before day one, and some dear friends and I made a record.
CG: How does it feel to be a front stage center, singing your own songs as opposed to being behind a drum set?
JG: It feels great! I’ve really only been playing drums in bands for about five years so I’m much more comfortable with a guitar or bass in my hands on stage anyways.
CG: I find that you write from an honest place, do you find it painful to write from a personal place or is it more cathartic? Or is it both? Or do you just chalk it up as experience and move forward?
JG: It’s a little bit of all those things. most of the songs from the album were written pretty fast once the idea came to me. I would sit down after work with a melody or lyric that I was humming all day and just start playing until it was finished. These songs are very personal to me, there’s a little story attached to each one that I think of every time I sing them.
CG: Do you find that you write when you are sad?
JG: I guess you could say that. I never have the best day ever and think “wow I’m gonna write about how awesome that was!” I’m a pretty happy guy for the most part but I fuck up all the time and that bums me out. It helps to write about it so I don’t feel like shit all the time haha
CG: Where do you draw your inspiration? What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
JG: I draw from the usual places… past lovers, drinking too much, disappointing friends and family. All that fun stuff. My most favorite part of the whole process is finishing a song, at least getting all the words down so I can then move on to arranging and thinking about what I want the band to be doing.
CG: Do you ever feel like you have to hold back when writing? Do you find that sometimes you don’t want to say too much?
JG: I try not to hold back at all. It’s going to be better for me and whoever wants to listen if I just let it all out anyways. I’m not trying to write songs that relate to everyone, I’m trying to write songs that mean something to me. I’m a selfish songwriter in that way.
CG: If you could tour with any artist who would it be? You can give me three or four artists, and you can go as far-fetched as you like.
JG: Father John Misty , Neil Young , JJ Cale , Courtney Marie Andrews , Steve Gunn and Feist.
CG: For readers that haven’t heard your music how would you describe it?
JG: Hopeful, melancholy folk rock.
CG: You have a song called 10 Years Younger, how about 10 Years older? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
JG: In ten years I see myself doing a lot of the same things I’m doing now…maybe just in different surroundings. Playing music and spending time with people I love is what I like to do. Maybe I’ll pick up knitting or start playing hockey again ?