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Anthony Green . Substream Music Press Interview . [02.14.2012] . (02.20.2012)

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SUB. FEATURE INTERVIEW: ANTHONY GREEN TALKS FATHERHOOD AND “BEAUTIFUL THINGS”

posted by : Jameson Ketchum on Feb 20, 2012 • 2:47 AM

 

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You might look at the image Anthony Green and see the weight of the world on his shoulders. Never a stranger to controversy and the ensuing spotlight followed by a barrage of deeply personal questions, Green subscribes to the idea that its better to put his own positive message out there rather than to remain extremely private and closed off. This idea was heavily tested when he appeared on the cover of last month’s AP Magazine with his one year old son James. Green confesses it was a tough decision but when you see the pair together, it’s clear that there’s little Green wouldn’t do to preserve his son’s eternal protection and joy. James joins us for the first half of the interview in fact. Earmuffs placed firmly on his head, loving every flash of our photographer’s camera.

 

There’s not many musicians like Green in music anymore; extremely friendly and personable, deeply honest and candid, while not coming off as a bleeding heart starving artist. He remembers me from a year earlier when I interviewed him just prior to the release of Blue Sky Noise (easily the strangest interview I’ve ever done). Off the record, Green reveals even more about himself, his seemingly irrational fears and his take on bands being interviewed in general. Talking with Green is like reconnecting with an old high school buddy. You want to remain professional yet you just want to take the guy out for a drink and BS. On stage, Green looks as if he’d be happy never leaving. He’s real with the crowd, joking, starting and stopping songs to tell a quick story, he’s just at home, even when it comes in a disciplinary form (Green stopped in the middle of his first song to tell a kid to stop pushing a girl against the stage and later on that he “wants to punch him in the face so bad” and that the kid has now “lost his singing along privileges”). Often between vocal breaks, Green will step past the mic and look out over the crowd with shifting eyes. It’s almost as if he believes he’s tricking the audience and any minute we’ll discover his secret and walk out the door. As evidenced by numerous sold out dates and the massively positive respond to his new record, its safe to say no one has left Green’s side yet.

 

Substream Music Press: The new record is Beautiful Things. Talk to me about the line, “Now that I’m older I never steal, but I think about it all the time…” I’ve heard you say that that line encapsulates a lot.

 

Anthony Green: I think it had more to do with doing bad shit. Now that you’re older you don’t do it, you just think about it. Which is worse? Thinking about it all the time or doing it? I sort of played around that idea, I’m not a better person I’m just a little better at hiding the darkness.

 

James kicks off one of his shoes. Green spends the next minute or so grappling with his son, now on his back, to get the tiny shoe back on. James lays back and smiles for our photographer.

 

SMP: I just watched the video for “Get Yours While You Can”. You mentioned on the “behind the scenes” that you liked just laying there and having other people carry the energy of it.

 

AG: Yeah. My idea of the video was just having everybody dancing in the middle of it and not even have me be in it. But the label and director got involved and said “You have to be in the video”, and I was like “I don’t want to be in the video”. Videos…to me it’s just not interesting to see a dude singing to the camera, faking some performance. I wanted this video to be something a little different. When we did the “Dying to Reach You” video, we got super into it and we were singing the song super loud and we killed ourselves making that video. The dudes that directed that were incredible and I wanted to be able to do something different from that but still really interesting to watch. I didn’t want to be in it and it was an “over my dead body” type of thing and the director Isaac was like "Okay, alright”. The whole symbolism of me being dead in the video and other people giving the video motion and light was sort of something he kind of came up with from the idea of me not wanting to be in it. It’s a perfect metaphor for how I feel like people can take things out of context and they can start building whatever they want out of your song, your poem, your whatever. If you try to hold onto whatever it means to you too much, it’s going to be really difficult and you have to sort of let other people interpret it and bring it to life.

 

James slides down from Green’s lap and onto the floor. “You want back up?” The father asks his son. “Timmy!” he replies. “You want to go find Timmy?” Green pulls him back up on his lap.

 

SMP: What has James done for you as far as your creativity and your mental state in relation to what you do as an artist?

 

AG: He sort of has helped me keep balance and focus.

 

Green apologizes as his son makes a run for the door leading to the steep steps down to the stage. He then brings James downstairs to find his mother and returns to the green room.

 

AG: Sometimes you and your self preservation isn’t enough to make good decisions. Good decisions meaning like things that aren’t going to put you or anyone who cares about you in harm’s way. I think that for awhile I just had a very difficult time with that, I was very reckless. It was difficult for me to tie a correlation between me being reckless and my personal life. How it affected the things I loved to do and the relationships in my life and James kind of becoming the focus of things helped me realize how silly I was being, how important life is, how important love is, how much I was really trying to escape from the fear of not having that type of love in my life. It’s a scary thing. I think a lot of times we’re so used to numbing ourselves so that we don’t have to face that idea that’s there’s possibly not love in your life and having to maybe look for it or need it. Just needing it is a scary vulnerable thing. He’s kind of taught me how to accept the fact that I need love in my life and that I need to nurture and respect people in a different way. So in that way…just like a 360…made me realize how important people are in my life and how important it is to just be happy. Not even just happy but just being positive and loving and nurturing of what you love. All the really hard shit is always going to be really hard so you don’t need to focus any more of your energy on what already takes it up.

 

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SMP: You’re probably having the realization of understanding your own parents a little better as well.

 

AG: A little. My parents were from a different time. As much as I can try and see and understand, I can’t because I don’t know what it was like to be raised like that. They raised me different, more open minded. I know that school is going to be a different priority. I want to take care of him and get him an education and not have it based on like the public school system or private schools even. I just feel like the education system in this country is really fucked and I never want him to feel like he’s competing for intelligence with other people, in my mind or his mind. He is already perfect and he doesn’t need to go to school to become smarter. Man, I had the worst time in school when I was a kid so I won’t ever put him through that.

 

SMP: Not to mention the fact that the arts are going down the drain in our school system but the cool thing is that he’s going to grow up with his dad as an artist.

 

AG: We’re gonna have so much fun as little partners! Painting and writing songs together, singing and dancing. I think he’s going to grow up in a really progressive household where he’s loved, he’s not going to be put in competition with other kids. I hope that.

 

SMP: Switching gears a bit. The new record feels really diverse, especially compared to Avalon. Are you more free with your solo stuff than you are with Circa?

 

AG: Yeah. Just because my solo stuff is whatever I want it to be. I don’t have to bounce any ideas off anybody if I don’t want to. That being said, there’s a lot of what I do with my solo stuff that is extremely collaborative with the Good Old War guys. It’s just a different kind of collaboration. I absolutely love Circa, it’s my baby, my first love. While me having a little bit more freedom in a project is nice, I think the thing that makes Circa great is that everyone is able to have their input and we can work together, make decisions together and make something greater than what you make on your own.

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SMP: You kind of touched on this, but the fact that you can do what you love for a living, and now more importantly, support a family with it, is incredible and something that so many people out there don’t get to experience. Is that still an every day shock?

 

AG: Any days that stresses come up with this job or whatever, it’s just like a job in that it has stresses and things that fuck you up. Every once in awhile things will bum me out or something will be freaking me out but its such a great experience, its such a great opportunity that I can’t believe its still happening, to be honest. Every tour I do, every record I put out, I feel like I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop. With this record specifically, I was ready for my solo career to be cut. Because the record is really weird and it’s not like anything. I didn’t expect people to respond to such a drastic change. I was very braced for a backlash. I feel like people who have liked my solo stuff have really liked the record and that’s just from the people coming to shows and the shows being sold out all over the place and it just been crazy awesome. I mean, I don’t know what people say on their comments on the internet but I know from these shows that it’s been way better than I expected, I don’t really understand it (laughs).

 

SMP: Maybe the response is because you’re so bold with your solo stuff. A lot of singers “go solo” then just write stripped down versions of their band’s songs. I was at the Where’s the Band Tour the other night and don’t get me wrong those guys are amazing writers, but it made me think when I heard how different your solo stuff was on this last record.

 

AG: I want to be on that Where’s the Band Tour. I want to do a tour that’s just me and an acoustic guitar.

 

SMP: So this tour is for Keep a Breast. What does that charity mean to you? Any close to home stories?

 

AG: I have a few personal family connections with cancer and breast cancer, people that I don’t necessarily want to talk about their stories

but Circa has been working with them since 2006. It’s just been a great experience to work with a charity that is so centered on awareness, not just breast cancer but cancer in general. They’re really good people who spread a really good message. It’s a pleasure to be out on tour spreading positivity and to be aligned with a charity like them. It’s a dream come true. My son and I are painting a cast of the girl who is at the booth tonight, which is odd because we’ve been on tour with her for six weeks. When they casted her boobs, they brought it on the bus and I was like “I don’t want those things in here”, there’s already two more boobs than I need on the bus (laughs). But she’s like the greatest girl ever but I just feel uncomfortable with those boobs around. Then they were like “Do you mind painting them?” so Meredith, James and I will be painting them. I’ll tell James when he’s older that he painted boobs (laughs).

 

SMP: He’ll discover them sooner or later. Anything else you’d like to add?

 

AG: I really hate Valentines Day but I’m really stoked to be here on Valentines Day. I fucking hate it and I’ve been married for years. I have lots of love in my life, I just hate corporate holidays. That being said, when I was a teenager and I had a girlfriend, which was very rare, and it was Valentines Day, I went all out. I was fucking romantic. It was everything: the standard, flowers, chocolate, heart shit and plus totally “me” type shit. I would hand make something, make dinner, go somewhere and do something fun.

 

SMP: What was the weirdest thing you gave someone?

 

AG: I had a girlfriend and we had a whole Valentines Day where we were trying to gross each other out. I took her to go see this move that was playing an hour and a half away from my parents’ house at some weird theater. It’s a movie about a doctor who falls in love with this woman who got into a car crash and so that she can’t run away, he cuts her arms and legs off. Then he makes her watch him have sex with prostitutes and stuff. I won that contest. She loved the movie then we went home and drank my parents’ red wine and did it on their couch. It was great though. I think she got me a pig’s heart and I didn’t even know what it was. That was nothing.

 

Later on stage, Green reveals that one of his worst Valentines Days happened before he could even drive. He invited a girl out to see the movie Beethoven. Her curfew was before the movie ended so Green, the girl, and his father had to leave the movie early to take her home. On the way to her house, Green pooped his pants, therefore foregoing the possibly romantic walk to the front door.

 

SMP: I hope you don’t do that kind of stuff with your wife now (laughs).

 

AG: (Laughs) We’re going to go out to dinner tonight. We’re very aware of romance in our lives and like not letting children and life changing things strip that away. We stay up really late burning the midnight oil. It doesn’t hurt that there’s times where I’ll be gone for two weeks and I won’t see her. Although it sucks, its nice for a couple to have a little break from each other sometimes. You have to keep that in mind, you can’t forget it. Sometimes you forget to eat.

 

Interview by Jameson Ketchum

Photos by Macy Langley of Riot Photography

 

http://www.substream...autiful-things/

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