Posted On 25 Aug 2017
Get to know the roots-rocker Jackie Greene!
His first music video collaboration with animator Bill Plympton is called “Modern Lives.” With visuals by the Oscar-nominated “king of indie animation,” the video takes viewers on a technicolored ride to outer space, an underwater world filled with robots, and a concert performed by banjo-slinging aliens. But set to absurdist lyrics comparing Times Square to a graveyard and a rollicking, fiddle-heavy groove, the seemingly innocuous psychedelic animation takes on a deeper meaning to reflect Greene’s sardonic view of “this modern life.”
“Modern Lives” is the lead single off ‘The Modern Lives- Vol 1,’ out on October 13th via Blue Rose Music. With wailing electric guitars, sultry piano ballads, and Southern honky-tonk, the six-track EP proves that Greene is “unburdened by adherence to genre” (NPR) and tackles the great social paradoxes of the 21st century with humor and honesty.
The New York Times has hailed Greene’s “spiritual balladry,” Bob Weir anointed him the “cowboy poet” of Americana and blues, and the San Francisco Chronicle raved that he has “a natural and intuitive connection with… just about any musical instrument.”
A musician’s musician, he’s also performed with Phil Lesh & Friends, The Black Crowes, and Bob Weir, and he hits the road with Anders Osborne (also of Phil Lesh and Friends) this fall, too.
Learn more about Jackie Green in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! Where does this interview find you today? Is there music playing in the background? What music do you like to listen to when you are relaxing or answering interview questions?
I’m in the studio tracking a new album with a friends band. I’m playing bass on it. So, yeah there’s music playing! Generally, I don’t have music on when I’m doing interviews.
How does 2017 so far compare to last year? Did you approach this year differently then you did 2016?
So far, so good. We definitely toured more in 2016 and we are focused more on making recordings this year. More time in the studio this year, for sure.
Growing up, did you always want to be musician?
As long as I can remember, yes. The only other thing I wanted to be was a middle infielder for the SF Giants. But that wasn’t gonna happen.
Can you recall the moment you realized that you could really make music and be a professional artist?
Not really. I always just strived for it. Didn’t matter what the odds were. Piece by piece, I put it all together.
I always like to ask artists how their hometown has been an influence on the kind of music they make and really what kind of an artist they are today. So how do you think your hometown has affected you?
Your hometown is generally something you run away from, but you always have a soft spot for it. I think music is different. I’m way more informed by records and music that I liked growing up then any particular place I’ve lived. That’s the point of good art: it’s transportive. It’s takes you away. That’s why I liked music. Took me somewhere.
Let’s talk about your newest single called “Modern Lives.” What was the inspiration for this song? What was it like collaborating with the animator Bill Plympton for the song’s video? How creatively involved were you with the imaginative video?
It’s a song that happened rather quickly. Probably the quickest I’ve ever written a song. It came in about 2 sittings. My wife and I were waiting for a ride to the airport and I randomly grabbed a guitar and it spilled out. I sang it into my phone and finished it up on the way to the airport. I’d been interested in animation for a little while. I got hip to Bill some years ago through a friend of a friend. I was drawn to his style immediately. I like that it isn’t so literal. I like that it’s playful, dreamlike and very homemade feeling. Those are all qualities that I feel fit with my songs. I also like that his stuff can be challenging and upset uptight people. I really like that!
On October 13th, you will be releasing your collection called “The Modern Lives-Vol 1.” What was it like making this EP? How do you think your already released track, “Modern Lives” prepares listeners for the rest of the EP?
Well, I played everything myself on all the songs. I did all the recording in my basement in brooklyn. So, the whole project was done in a less than ideal space, which to me, is the charm. It’s very raw and not over cooked in any way. There’s a lot of varied songs that we will be releasing on vol 1 and vol 2, so it’s hard to say how people will react. Really, it’s just me making recordings on my own terms and having fun making music again. I feel like I’m 25 again. It’s a good feeling.
How has your summer been going? Do you have plans to play out live the rest of it?
Summer is great. I’m enjoying writing and recording. Playing some gigs here and there but no big summer tour plans. Next year, for sure.
How excited are you to be playing at the Blue Rose Foundation Benefit Concert with all of these incredible musicians on October 18th? What other future tour dates are you looking forward to?
Should be a blast. We all know each other, so it should be a good time. Anders Osborne and I will be on an acoustic tour and that’s a lot of fun. He’s such a great artist and a really great guy to hang around with, so I’m looking forward to that run.
Where do you think you are happiest- on stage performing, in the studio recording new music or elsewhere?
I think I’m equally at home on stage and in the studio. Definitely there are times when I’d rather be just on tour or just in the studio. I’m lucky that I get to do both.
Who are some of your favorite artists? Is there anyone that you would still love to work with in the future? What would be a dream collaboration?
Tom Waits is definitely one of my heroes. Lowell George is another. Steve Winwood, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty. There’s lots of people I’d love to work with. Most of whom are on the production end, though.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
I just hope that my songs can reach people in the same way music spoke to me when I was younger. I’m not after anything specific, just a feeling. I use a broad, broad brush. I think we can get lost in the cerebral details and miss the experience. And that’s a shame.
What advice would you give to an artist or band just getting started? Or even to someone young that is thinking of becoming a musician one day?
It’s a blue collar job. There are no get-rich-quick schemes. If your only goal is fame and fortune, you will fail. You have to work hard and have thick skin. Especially nowadays. We live in a shaming culture and it’s only a matter of time before that ugliness finds its way into the arts. My advice is keep your nose to the grindstone and be as honest as you can be. People will react, eventually.