Greene recently released a new music video, called "Crazy Comes Easy," a song from his forthcoming The Modern Lives, Vol. 2 EP, dropping in October. Popdust caught up with Greene, asking him about his beginning in music, his influences, and his songwriting process.
Singer-songwriter Jackie Greene will release a new EP entitled The Modern Lives – Vol 2 via Blue Rose Music this October. Greene confirmed a series of dates in support of the record featuring The Modern Lives Band.
You'll be hard-pressed to find a more feel-good video than the clip for Jackie Greene's "Crazy Comes Easy," premiering exclusively below from his upcoming Modern Lives, Vol. 2 EP.
Singer-songwriter Jackie Greene shared a new single entitled “Crazy Comes Easy.” The track appears on his upcoming EP The Modern Lives – Vol 2, which is due out on Blue Rose Music in October.
Greene issued the six-song The Modern Lives – Vol. 1 EP last year, marking his debut with Blue Rose. Both The Modern Lives volumes were recorded in Greene’s Brookyln home studio. Before that, the multi-instrumentalsist released the full-length studio album, Back To Birth, in 2015.
The video for the new single “Crazy Comes Easy” will be available on June 20. A teaser of the video is below, followed by the full track.
What do animator Bill Plympton and singer-songwriter Jackie Greene have in common? Well, they’re both devoted to exploring the complexities of the human condition in their individual art forms. The two also came together for a music video for Greene’s new song “Modern Lives” — which is being screened at NYC’s SVA Theatre on Mar. 28 as part of an evening of musical shorts by Plympton (including his work with Madonna, Weird Al, and Kanye West). Since Greene will be performing live at the event, we took this opportunity beforehand to check in with both artists about their recent collaboration.
Q: SVA in NYC is going to be screening an evening of Bill Plympton music videos. Is there one in particular that you’re eager to see on a big screen?
Jackie Greene: I’m excited to see anything and everything that gets shown. I’m a fan of the medium and I think Bill’s work is fantastic.
Bill Plympton: I think the short “Tupelo” is the one I’m most excited about because it’s a more subtle music video, and there’s a lot of detail in it that’s difficult to see on a small computer screen.
Q: The recent music video for “Modern Lives” visually and sonically calls to mind a youthful road trip (with a sci-fi twist). Do you have a particularly memorable road trip you took when you were younger?
BP: The first cross-country road trip I took in 1972. It was with two strange guys who also needed to travel from New York to Oregon. The problem was the driver was very drowsy and I fell asleep and drove off the road — we rolled three times — but I survived with no injuries. The other guys went to the hospital, and I took a bus for the rest of the trip.
JG: One of my first tours was opening up for B.B. King. It was just me and my tour manager Ben, who was basically my best friend from high school. Anyway, Ben and I followed B.B. King all summer in a rented Subaru. Pretty sure the A.C. was shot. Sometimes the drives between shows were over ten hours. I’d have to get up there and play to an audience that doesn’t necessarily give a shit about me and try and convince them to go to the merch table and pick up my debut CD. I think we used to get like, 200 bucks a night, or so. Somehow, we made that work, even if involved pulling over and sleeping in the car. The cheapest motel we could find was often still too expensive…
Q: What’s your favorite music video of all time?
JG: If I answer honestly, I’d probably have to say “Devil Inside” by INXS. Mainly because I was obsessed with that song when I was a kid. For pure epic ridiculousness, I’d say “November Rain.” I mean come on — Slash doing yoga poses, mid-solo, in the middle of a desert? In front of an abandoned church?? That shit is epic. There’s not a rock and roll guitar player on earth that doesn’t know that scene.
BP: My favorite music video is actually an extended music video. It’s The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” — What a perfect union of great imagery by Heinz Edelmann and great music by The Beatles.
Learn the songwriting secrets behind many of The Beatles' greatest hits
Q: If you two were to collaborate again on a music video that was based on a classic rock track, what might that song be?
BP: I would love to do something for The Eagles’ “Hotel California” and I’d love to see what Jackie could do with that song.
JG: Something psychedelic would be great. Maybe something off of Anthem of the Sun… It’d be cool to try to write music for an animated feature-length at some point.
Q: Jackie, was there a specific animated work by Plympton that made you want to collaborate with him on this music video?
JG: I’ve been a fan of Bill’s for awhile, so probably not one work, in particular. “The Date” is pretty damn funny. “Footprints” is very thought-provoking and symbolic. “The Kiss” is hilarious and works really well all stripped down and without much color. I really like Bill’s style and the subtle shifts within his style. It’s like peeking into a very active and unpredictable imagination.
Q: Bill, You’ve done a handful of music videos in the past: Parson Brown’s “Mexican Standoff,” Kanye West’s “Heard ‘Em Say,” and Weird Al’s “TMZ”. What was it about “Modern Lives” that inspired you?
BP: I’ve turned down a lot of music video offers so what attracted me to his music was the blend of old-time blues and modern poetic lyrics. I was interested in this kind of format. It’s really rare to find a 30-minute long music video. It brings to mind Pink Floyd‘s The Wall which is very political and powerful, but I prefer the music of Jackie and I feel so lucky I was able to be a part of the project.
Photo Credit: “Modern Lives” animation by Bill Plympton (courtesy of Shorefire)
PS. Going to be in NYC on Mar. 28? Get tickets to the Bill Plympton Music Video Extravaganza at SVA.
On March 28 in New York City, Jackie Greene and Bill Plympton come together for the screening of the "Modern Lives" short film. The screening will also feature some of the more famous Bill Plympton videos, Q&A, and a short acoustic performance by Jackie. If you are in NYC, come check it out!
Jackie Greene comes full-circle with his self-produced and engineered EP The Modern Lives Vol. 1. His early records were somewhat derivative efforts released on a small label, before the California native embarked on a variety of high-profile collaborations, including Trigger Hippy (with Joan Osborne and Black Crowes drummer Steve Gorman) plus an extended run with Phil Lesh and Friends. The multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter also continued to issue a series of increasingly polished solo albums as well as touring on his own and in the company of Bob Weir and Chris Robinson at one point.
This six-track set is the first result of Greene’s relocation to the East Coast, specifically, Brooklyn, New York, where in a basement studio of his own devise, he put together a finished product that wholly belies its DIY concept. “Back of My Mind,” to name just one, earmarks the professionalism Jackie brought to the project, not just in terms of the musicianship—he sounds like a whole band playing all by himself—but also because the clarity and depth of the audio mix, highlighted here by piano, is as impressive the song itself.
It’s one of the better numbers of the half-dozen here because it sounds completely natural, in its words and music, as well as in the author’s relaxed yet knowing vocal tone. In contrast, for the title song and “Tupelo,” Greene strains for effect: it’s almost as if he’s trying to live up to press nominating him a standard bearer of Americana music. While it is no sin in itself to prominently feature banjo, but he might better have elevated dobro in the arrangement of the latter to render it more distinct from its companion cut and reaffirm its authenticity.
The lyrics of “Good Advice” sound a bit self-conscious as well. Jackie aims for a rustic atmosphere, but the treatment he applies to the vocal track only ends up overstating his point. But the man doesn’t make the same mistake on “The Captain’s Daughter,” because he’s telling a story and creating a character within that story through whom he expresses sentiments of his own. And the pithy electric guitar Greene plays on this cut is an indirect but legitimate link to the influence of the Band on his music.
“Alabama Queen” works for many of the same reasons and ends The Modern Lives Volume 1 on a high note. This finale radiates that ease in writing, singing and playing with which Jackie Greene has distinguished himself in all manner of settings prior to this release, so he certainly whets the appetite for the sequel to this set, not to mention creating some healthy anticipation for future recordings and live shows.
Jackie Greene and his friends are up to something good.
Greene, an acclaimed Americana singer/songwriter, has rocked with the likes of the Black Crowes and the Grateful Dead's Phil Lesh and Bob Weir over the years.
On Wednesday, Oct. 18, Greene and fellow musical journeyman Anders Osborne kick off their joint tour on the Asbury Park Press Stage at the Count Basie Theatre, and they'll be joined for the occasion by Steve Earle, Joan Osborne, Steve Forbert and Jason Crosby.
The sextet is set to deliver a one-night-only songwriters-in-the-round performance.
“We all know each other, so I assume it’s going to feel like a big campfire, or something like that," Greene said. "I think it’ll be comfortable for everybody, so I think that’s going to allow us individually to have a lot of fun because we know each other and hopefully we’ll be able to joke around a little bit. I think it’ll be real entertaining.”
And all of that entertainment will be in service of a good cause. The show, dedicated to the memory of Marie and Fred Hope, is hosted by the Blue Rose Foundation. All proceeds go to the Monmouth Day Care Center in Red Bank.
Greene explained that childhood education, particularly music education, is a topic he is incredibly passionate about.
“I’ve often said I may be one of (members of) the last generation of kids to have music (education) in public schools, I think it’s one of the things that goes away quite quickly," Greene said. "And for me, I’m not a scientist or anything, but it’s not about finding the next Mozart or anything like that.
"It’s more about if kids are exposed to music education early, I think it does something to their brains, it allows them to problem solve in a different way. It helps open a creative Pandora’s Box in the brain ... and I think that’s important for kids growing up and I support it.”
After the Red Bank show, Greene and Anders Osborne's Tourgether run of dates brings them to City Winery for a pair of sold out performances Friday, Oct. 27, on Varick Street in New York City, followed by a Saturday, Oct. 28, engagement at the Ardmore Music Hall in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.
The Red Bank show also will serve as a reunion for Greene and Joan Osborne; the pair previously joined forces for the rootsy super group Trigger Hippy.
“I think we both have a natural affinity for certain kinds of blues music and soul music that we sort of get along with," Greene said of his work with the "One of Us" hit-maker. "So I think there’a a similarity, a camaraderie there. It seems to work."
Greene also has a new EP to celebrate, the Oct. 13 Blue Rose Music release "The Modern Lives - Vol. 1."
The six-song collection is lyrically insightful and topical while being musically rich, blending Americana with folk and soul.
A California native now based on the East Coast, Greene created the EP in his Brooklyn basement and played all of the instrumental parts himself.
“I look at it more like a wood shop," he said. "I go in, go downstairs and cut a few planks and nail things together and bring it back upstairs, see if it works. I do that every day. It’s a little bit like going to work. I go down and have a thermos of coffee and come back up for lunch, that kind of thing.”
BLUE ROSE FOUNDATION BENEFIT CONCERT
WITH: Steve Earle, Joan Osborne, Jackie Greene, Anders Osborne, Steve Forbert and Jason Crosby
WHEN: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18
WHERE: The Asbury Park Press Stage at the Count Basie Theatre, 99 Monmouth St., Red Bank
TICKETS: $20 to $40, $300 for VIP package with meet-and-greet
INFO: 732-842-9000 or www.countbasietheatre.org
BackStory Events and Guitar World invite you to join us for the live stream of our exclusive interview with Jackie Greene.
The interview will take place Thursday, October 12 at 6:00 p.m., live from the Cutting Room in New York City.
We’ll be discussing Green’s new self-recorded album, The Modern Lives – Vol 1, which is set to release the very next day. There will also be a short performance, an opportunity for audience questions, and a meet and greet.
Greene will be interviewed by New York Times best-selling author and journalist Alan Paul. The event is part of the BackStory Events online series and will be live streamed by Guitar World.
To find out more, visit jackiegreene.com.
Once we go live, the stream will appear below.
Looking for Some Good Advice for These Modern Times
Brooklyn roots rocker Jackie Greene’s new EP, The Modern Lives - VOL I, combines the folk blues of the Mississippi delta with the ragged bar room rock of early ‘70s rock; “Tupelo” weaves the haunting echoes of Jo Jo Gunne’s first album with a New Orleans’ blues piano, all underscored by a plucky banjo cadence that captures the attraction-repulsion the singer feels toward the mysterious, weird South. The sprightly banjo opens out into a cascading lead riff that blossoms into rousing harmonica trills on the title track. “Modern Lives” captures the frantic character of life; it passes us by far too quickly but we’re too self-absorbed to notice how quickly time, and the others in our lives, is passing by. When the president urges the kid to “go buzzing on your modern life,” Greene evokes the flitting from one moment to another, one event to another, which makes up the sum total of nothingness of our daily lives. With a Vonnegut-like humor, Greene portrays the irony of the hollow death at the center of modern life: “You can’t fool me/your Times Square looks like a graveyard/I’ve got a billboard for a headstone.” “Back of My Mind” is a sparkling piano ballad that recalls songs like Mercy’s “Love Can Make You Happy” or James Taylor’s “Shower the People,” except with more knowing lyrics about just where knowledge of love lies for most people. Greene looks at modern condition and fearlessly calls it out for its moral bankruptcy.
I caught up with Greene recently for a chat about his EP and his music.
What’s the story behind the album?
Greene: I have a little basement in my apartment here in Brooklyn. I sort of look at it like woodshedding. Everything is like a tool; I go into the studio and hammer nails into a plank. There’s a strong homemade vibe to the music. A lot of that is because I’ve always had my own studios to work in and can control things. Part of what’s different on this EP is that I played every instrument myself. That’s what’s new to this one.
This is the first volume of two Eps; why two rather than a long album?
Greene: Originally, I was going to put it out as one, but then I thought about the songs and the way they fit together and broke it up into two EPs.
What’s the theme that lies under the music on this album?
Greene: What do you give up to live a modern life? Most of the songs deal with that. It’s telling that the most popular phrase in the English language is “selfie.” That says a lot about our society today.
What’s your approach to songwriting?
Greene: I think a song ought to be transportive. If I’m writing a song, I want in the best way I can to bring people to that place in my mind. I can know instinctively when the song I’m singing matches the music I’m playing. A lot of songs I start and throw away. I don’t consider myself a topical songwriter; I tend to gravitate toward the symbolic. I’m much more concerned with conveying a feeling. The trick for me is to paint a picture. The title track for the EP I wrote in about five minutes—not all of them come so fast (laughs) My wife and I were in an Uber headed to the airport, and the words came to me; I wrote them in a memo in my phone, and I recorded the song when I got home. My models for making music are the big production sound of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and the folk songs of Muddy Waters’ live album. I’m not sure where I fall in there. (chuckles)
When did you start playing?
Greene: Right out of high school; started playing in coffee houses, songs by Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, and Townes Van Zandt. Then I’d play these happy hours at biker bars. Eventually, I started opening for big acts. Susan Tedeschi was one of the first people to take me on the road; I’ve played with B.B. King and Mark Knopfler.
If you could have lunch with any three authors/artists, living or dead, who would you choose?
Greene: Alan Watts and Joseph Campbell: I love Watts’ and Campbell’s writing. I can see how songs can extract these archetypal ideas, these timeless messages. Merle Haggard: I’m a big fan. Jerry Garcia, given my relatability to the Dead these days. Picasso.
What are your greatest challenges to you as musician these days?
Greene: Making a living; that’s true across the board. All of us make our money through touring and at the merch table. Still, if you have the urge to make something—music, a record—then the dire straits of the business are not going to stop you from doing that. There’s a question of how to be creative, how to be inspired. Artists need a place to make mistakes, a place not to give a shit; that’s the freedom I have in my studio.
Tell me about the videos you’re making of the songs.
Greene: I heard about Bill Plympton through a friend of a friend. Turns out that Bill was a fan of my music. I thought his DIY animation fit well with the DIY vibe of my record. I told him to be as weird as he wanted to be; be as tangential as you want to be. His style marries very well with the aesthetic of my music. Working with him is a lot of fun.
Singer-songwriter Jackie Greene is returning to the historic Warfield Theatre in San Francisco on Nov. 11 for his annual birthday bash. Jackie announced the show via his Facebook page. While fellow singer-songwriter Anders Osborne is the only artist on the bill so far, the poster (see below) bills the show as “Jackie Greene + Friends” and also reads “with special guests” and “more to be announced.”
Now, while this is pure speculation, seeing as how the show is in San Francisco and Greene plays often with Grateful Dead members Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, it’s a safe bet that either Phil or Bobby or both will show up (although Bobby will be playing at MSG on Nov. 12, but hey, it’s possible). Click here to find tickets to Jackie Green + Friends at The Warfield on AXS.
Jackie Green has been touring in support of his latest album Back to Birth. You can listen to the title track above.
Jackie Greene has released a video for track ‘Modern Lives’, in the lead up to the upcoming release of EP The Modern Lives Vol 1.
The video is a taste of what is to come, as Greene has collaborated with Academy Award nominated animator Bill Plympton on a series of videos for a new project.
In collaboration, Greene and Plympton will be creating “a short film inspired by the songs from his new EP The Modern Lives – Vol 1.”
Combining the musicality of Greene’s work and the skills of Plympton’s animation, the pair have created a unique video.
The announcement elaborated on the pair’s work:
“I’ve been a fan of Bill’s animation for some time,” says Greene. “There’s a unique, independent quality to his work that is mercurial and thought-provoking. I told him to let his imagination run wild and nothing was off limits. Which for Bill, is a normal day at the office.”
Plympton adds, “I had heard some of Jackie’s music before, and loved it. But when he contacted me this Spring to create some music videos as a mini-feature film, I was totally elated. Then he sent me the music, and I was knocked out – it was so wonderful! He gave me total freedom with my art and told me to ‘get psychedelic’ with the animation – this is the kind of creative project that every animator dreams about!”
Greene’s EP The Modern Lives Vol 1 will be out October 13 via Blue Rose Music/The End Records.
To find out more about Jackie Greene, head to: http://www.jackiegreene.com/
Watch the video now:
Full article: https://rhythms.com.au/jackie-greene-partners-animation-legend-bill-plympton-new-video-series/
“Well I called up the president and asked him where the money went/He told me that it all got spent long before I ever learned to drive,”sings roots rocker Jackie Greene in his cheeky tune “Modern Lives,” the title track from his forthcoming EP set for release on October 13th via Blue Rose Music. “It’s one of those songs that came out real quick. My wife and I were waiting for a car to take us to the airport, and I grabbed a guitar and starting singing it, and it just came out. I recorded it on my phone and finished in the car on the way to the airport. It’s weird, every once and a while that happens, but usually you have to labor a little bit,” he explains of the song’s origin. “I’m not trying to be political in the song, it’s mere commentary. I’m just the peanut gallery over here,” he laughs.
Modern Lives Vol. 1, the first of a two-volume set, features six songs—from bluesy, rollicking ramblers to laid back, front porch-style grassy goodness. “Originally, I was going to release one record, but I decided it would be cooler to release it as two EPs, and the songs split up well that way,” he explains. “There’s a large part of me that has a big DIY/homemade feel to it. On every record I’ve made, there’s at least one song where I’m playing everything. This is the first time where all the songs are me playing everything—it’s sort of like my own Basement Tapes—I literally made it in my basement in Brooklyn. It’s not studio record in the traditional sense, in fact, it’s not a studio record at all,” he laughs. “It’s that much of a stretch for me though. I did everything but the mixing.”
Some artists shudder at the thought of producing their own music, and others balk at the idea of not having that control, Greene isn’t easily fazed by either option. “I’ve done it both ways, produced myself and had producers. It’s like fitting pieces to a puzzle, I can carve out what the song is from the block of marble. Maybe I’m wrong and don’t know what I’m doing,” he laughs. “Even if I don’t, i’m doing it anyway. I go completely on instinct—I just know when it’s done. There’s a famous Jackson Pollock quote, someone had asked him when he knew he was done with a painting, and he replied ‘How do you know when you’re done making love?’” he adds with a laughs. “That’s one way to look at it, you just know.”
In keeping with Greene’s DIY ethos, he enlisted the talents of animator Bill Plympton to create the videos to accompany the EP; the first video, the title track, was released recently, and it’s a brain-massaging wonder. “The song is me being snarky, and the video feels like that, it encapsulates the general feeling of the song,” Greene explains. “It’s all about creating a feeling. We get so caught up in the cerebral details, especially when it comes to music; we break it down and put it under the microscope, and that’s not always necessary. People listen to music for enjoyment and in order for that to happen, you have to elicit some sort of a feeling.”
“I’ve been into animation for a while; I was introduced to Plympton’s work by a friend. In the back of my mind, I’d always wondered if he’d do a music video for me,” he continues. “I started thinking about videos again when this project rolled around—I knew I didn’t want to be in the videos this time, I wanted to do something different. There’s an element of Plympton’s stuff that’s very indie, very homemade, it can be challenging, and it’s very tangential. You have to follow along or you get left behind, and I like that, it works well with the basement nature of my aesthetic,” Greene says. “I reached out to him, and was happy to discover he’s a fan of mine as well, and I told him he had free reign to get as weird as he wanted. He’s doing all the videos for these songs, and they’re going to get progressively weirder. I just wanted Bill to be Bill. Everything he’s shown me has been mind-blowing. The ‘Modern Lives’ video is definitely the tamest one by far. New territory for me, but it feels natural,” he adds. “It’s an exciting time to be making music.”
To say that guitarist/vocalist Jackie Greene has led a charmed sort of musical life is a bit of an understatement. He’s payed with everyone from Phil Lesh to the Black Crowes to Huey Louis, and has managed to make some impressive music of his own along the way. After years of near-constant motion, Greene purposefully scheduled himself some time off this summer both to prepare for his upcoming acoustic run with Anders Osborne and to work on new material, some of which will be appearing on his upcoming EP, Modern Lives Vol I. As he puts the finishing touches on the new release and gears up to return to the road, we caught up with Greene to see how all his various endeavors are progressing:
Live For Live Music: You’ve toured with Gov’t Mule, Los Lobos, Phil Lesh, Ratdog, Huey Lewis, B.B. King, Mark Knopfler, Black Crowes, Levon Helm…Do you ever consider yourself something of musical ‘Rosetta Stone?’
Jackie Greene: No, I just see myself as a lucky guy. All those acts are mostly connected in a way. To me, it doesn’t seem weird to be connected to all those acts. Like I said…I just see myself as lucky. I can’t really account for the reason why I am so lucky. In the end I guess I just say ‘yes’ a lot.
L4LM: Having played with so many disparate artists have you developed a process for preparing for playing with these folks.
JG: Well in the case of the Crowes, I was actually in that band, so I had a whole catalog of songs to learn. But I have gotten pretty good at learning material on short notice. Maybe it’s just the way I learn. Like right now I am playing bass on a record, which I have never done before, so that’s pretty exciting. I’ve got a knack for learning songs, I suppose.
L4LM: You’ve spoken of your tendency to pick up elements and traits of artists you work with. Is your whole career like a musical version of Pokémon, where you’re trying to catch them all to make yourself the best you can be?
JG: No, I think that just happens naturally. I don’t really seek it out, but it is definitely there. If you’re a musician you learn from listening to people, listening to records and just playing with people and incorporating into your own style. I love all that stuff and I try and use all of it. I feel like in some ways you’d have to be pretty dense to not have learned something playing with all the people I have. I think it would be a failure on my part to not come out of this decade of my life and not have learned anything.
L4LM: You’re putting together all of this knowledge on your upcoming album, The Modern Lives Vol I. You’ve seen a lot of change over the last decade or so in the music business. What changes have affected you the most?
JG: The technology aspect of it can’t be discounted. It’s weird. It is much more difficult to make a living selling recorded music. But access and ease of recording music has gotten so much easier. There is just this wealth of knowledge to swim in. It’s a sign of prosperity in terms of artistic endeavors, but it has made it harder to find folks who can make a good living at it. But–and I think this is true for all artists–you have to swim in the pond in which you were deposited. For me…I just continue making music the best way I know how. That may change over time. I don’t think about it to much. I don’t let it affect my process.
L4LM: One of the pluses of all this new technology is how easy it makes things for artists who like to ‘do it all.’ You seem to have taken this to heart on Modern Lives. I understand you did pretty much everything on this EP yourself, is that right?
JG: Yeah, I played every instrument myself. I did everything but mix the record myself. I did everything in my basement in Brooklyn myself. I even did the engineering…if you can call it that, myself. This isn’t really that big a stretch for me. There is a homemade element to a lot of my records that has been there since day one. It’s a part of my aesthetic you could say.
There has been at least one or two songs on each record I have done that has been like that, even if I cut it in a big studio. This is just the first time where everything has been like that. I have always been interested in recording, ever since I was a kid and got my first four track recorder. I’d link two reel-to-reel recorders together to get more tracks.
It turned into a part of my songwriting process. I’d make a demo of a thing I am working on. A lot of the time I’d end up using at least part of those demos in the final recording. It’s not something that is new to me. This is just the first project where everything in it is all me from the ground up. I’ve always had some form of a home studio. It’s how I like to work. It’s just so much more easy for me to just go around to all the different instruments and work on it until I am happy.
L4LM: It makes writing the album liner credits a lot easier, I assume.
JG: [Laughs] Definitely.
Check out the video for “Modern Lives” featuring animation by the legendary artist Bill Plympton below:
L4LM: You’re a big proponent of limiting creative choices to spark the artistic process. Do you believe having less options makes you get more creative?
JG: I think that is a universal truth…You see it in all cultures, particularly when it comes to art. This is just me, my philosophy. There are plenty of people who have done great records and art with all the gear in the world. I like gear too, certainly. But there is a point, to me, when it becomes unnecessary. Sometimes you just have to look at what you have on hand and make something happen. When I was recording in the past I was using the tape machines, and you had a limited number of tracks and you had a lot of decisions to make. I am a big fan of committing to things early in the process.
By way of example…if there is an effect like reverb or delay that I really like for a part of a song, I will print it. That’s what it’s called when you add something like that, printing. I’ll do that early on in the process, so then it stays. It is always there. To me, making decisions early can help expedite the process. If I was to not make these commitments early, I would be stuck at the end making thousands of decisions and that kinda bums me out…It transcends disciplines. It’s basic simplicity.
L4LM: You put a “Vol. I” in the album title. Is this a true indication of a coming sequel, or is this a “History Of The World Part I”-type thing where it is just part of the title?
JG: Yeah, hopefully part two will be out in the winter. This is an EP, there are six songs on it. Originally I was gonna put this out all as one record, but there were a couple of tunes that I wasn’t quite finished with yet. When I was looking at what I had, I realized that these six go together pretty well and the other six work well together also. It became pretty clear that what I ought to do is put it out as two separate EPs.
L4LM: You’re releasing this on the Blue Rose Music label out of California. They do a lot of interesting charity work. How did you first get involved with them?
JG: I played one of their benefits a while back and the owner, Joe Poletto, has become a really good friend of mine. Now we are in business together. It was a truly organic relationship that started out there in Petalula.
L4LM: Blue Rose does a lot to help the next generation of musicians. Was that the attraction for you?
JG: Definitely a big part of it. The last benefit we did was tied into started a music scholarship for kids in Sacramento, where I am from. Music programs in schools are pretty much always the first thing to get cut [when budgets decrease]. Who the hell needs that right? But it turns out that music programs are good for more than just music.
Music is really important to the development of the brain. Sadly, I think mine is one of the last generations to be assured of having a music program in school. Even as basic as those programs are, they introduce kids to the idea that there are other ways to succeed in life. That is my angle on all this–to help kids see that there is more than one way to go.
L4LM: You just mentioned you were in the studio playing bass on a project right now. Are you going to get out and promote the EP with some shows?
JG: My friend Anders Osborne and I are going to be playing some acoustic shows together in October. Pretty much all of October I will be promoting that. It’s basically us, acoustic. Maybe I’ll bring a banjo. We did a few shows together earlier this year and people really liked it so I am excited to get out and do it again.
This summer in particular I have been taking a lot of time off to make some new recordings. I am starting to write songs for another record next year with my touring band that will be a straight rock and roll record. It is nice to have some actual time off to write and just be in recording mode for an extended period of time.
Check out a clip of Greene and Osborne performing “Ball And Chain” from their short run earlier this year (via Salt City Live):
L4LM: Now that you mention it, you do always seem to have a show around the corner. Is this your first really long break from the road?
JG: Absolutely. At first it was weird. I didn’t really know what to do with myself. In the past it has been that I had songs that I wanted to work on but no time to do it. This summer I have had enough time to work on things. It was scary at first but now I really like it. And I will have a lot of new tunes to share.
L4LM: Is it ever weird introducing songs you have written all alone to the musicians who will be backing you up on them?
JG: Not really. I am not that particular, and my band is really great. Sometimes I have to re-learn these tunes myself. I think after this time off it will be great to take these tunes out to the people!
For more information on Jackie Greene and his upcoming releases and tour dates, head to his website.
Jackie Greene had modest ambitions for his latest release, a two-part EP titled The Modern Lives that he recorded by himself in the basement studio of his New York apartment building. But the visual component of the project has turned into kind of a big deal.
The video for the title track, premiering below, was animated by Bill Plympton, an Academy Award nominee known for shorts such as Your Face and Guard Dog and its sequels, and for features such as The Tune, Mutant Aliens, Idiots and Angels and Revengeance.
"I've always been interested in animation," Greene -- who releases The Modern Lives, Vol. 1 on Oct. 13, with its follow-up coming later -- tells Billboard. He met Plympton years ago through mutual friends in California and learned the animator was a fan of his music. And the feeling was mutual. "I really dug a lot of his work," Greene says. "It's kind of challenging -- obviously really funny and sort of borderline on offensive sometimes, like any good work. But it also has this homemade, very lo-fi indie quality to it, and I thought that style works really well in my mind with the aesthetic of these (The Modern Lives) recordings. So we reached out to him."
Greene, in fact, plans to have videos made for each of the songs on the two EPs and is hoping Plympton will do all of them. "I just said, 'Look, you're such a great animator, you're such a great artist, you should just sit with these songs a bit and see what you can do,'" Greene recalls. "What I like about Bill's stuff is it's tangential, not super-literal; Things morph into other ideas as the animation progresses. I really like that. It felt really good with this project. So the idea is he's going to do all the videos and when we're done the whole thing will feel like a little series or maybe even a movie."
The Plympton program certainly elevates the profile for the rootsy, blues-tinged The Modern Lives project and its potential artistic impact beyond Greene's original intent. "I didn't start out that way," he says with a laugh. "It started out me recording stuff in my basement. I didn't go into the basement thinking, 'I'm making a record down here,' 'cause there's a homemade quality to it. It just kind of developed and I really liked the way it was coming out and I thought, 'Why not let that be the record?,' then turned it into a project. It's something different for our fans, but I think it came out sounding like a real record."
Greene will be joining forces with Anders Osborne for a tour this fall to support The Modern Lives EPs. He'll also be making an album with Mother Hips and has "a couple things planned for the fall and winter" -- including a likely move back to California from New York for lifestyle reasons. But he hopes to maintain the approach to writing and recording that he employed for The Modern Lives. "Call it my home Basement Tapes," Greene says. "There's a homemade quality to a lot of the stuff I do on any given album; This is just the first time I was able to do it top to bottom -- work in my own studio, play everything myself. It doesn't have to be done in a proper studio anymore; I can do whatever I want and put it out if I like it."
The Modern Lives - Vol. 1 Track List
1. "Modern Lives"
2. "Back Of My Mind"
4. "Good Advice"
5. "The Captain's Daughter"
6. "Alabama Queen"
July 19, 2017
Last month, Monterey International Pop Festival 50 celebrated the half-decade anniversary of the original 1967 California festival, which brought together icons like Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix and The Who, among others, for a legendary event that helped cement the spirit of the Summer of Love and served as an inspiration for today's modern festival landscape.
Relix was on the scene at Monterey Pop 50, speaking with some of the festival's performers behind the scenes and filming the musicians rehearsing for their sets. Below, watch Phil Lesh, Nicki Bluhm, Jackie Greene and ALO share their music, along with their thoughts on the festival and the lasting impact of that original gathering.
Read more: https://www.relix.com/blogs/detail/hear_phil_lesh_nicki_bluhm_jackie_greene_and_alo_speak_and_perform_at_monterey_pop_festival_50#ixzz4nOkR6n3n
Blue Rose Music is pleased to announce Jackie Greene’s upcoming EP The Modern Lives Vol 1, comprised of six songs showcasing his “natural and intuitive connection with… just about any musical instrument” (San Francisco Chronicle), self-recorded and produced by Jackie Greene in Brooklyn, New York. The EP is available on October 13, 2017 via Blue Rose Music/The End Records on digital, CD and LP formats.