With her stoner chic attitude and her collection of home recorded garage rock tunes Colleen Green is no stranger to the west coast DIY scene. Now, after grabbing the attention of Hardly Art Records and the release of her first studio album, I Want To Go Up, she’s making a splash with the critics, media and listeners alike. Recorded in Nashville, Tennessee (sooo far from home) she had to learn how to transfer her honest, bare your soul lyrics into music without being fully in control. But with the help of her two good friends Casey Weissbuch (Diarrhea Planet) and Jake Orrall (JEFF The Brotherhood) the record has become a catchy pop rock offering of the anxieties of growing up and falling in love.
That brings us to where we are now. At this point Green is wrapping up a major North American tour where she took the stage in several major US and Canadian cities under her solo effort as well as Weissbuch’s (who is also her touring drummer) side project Punani Huntah, a dance hall inspired musical act. I got the chance to speak to Colleen before her set at Toronto’s Smiling Buddha back in August when she hit the stage with three local, female fronted groups; So Young, The Beverleys and Pony. Being kind of an introvert and one to take time to herself before a show (if you’ve heard the record this is no surprise), I found Green catching up on emails and sipping Canada Dry in the green room. She invited me in and I got the chance to fan girl a little (because it’s me) as well as talk to her about reaching her younger audience, letting others take the wheel and giving up things that are bad for her.
Let’s talk about the album that you released back in February. Now, this is your first studio album; the first two being solo efforts done at home. What, for you, are some of the pros and cons when it comes to recording in a studio. Especially when it comes to aspects like other people playing the different parts.
Colleen: Pros were that it was a lot easier and a lot less pressure on me to do everything myself. It felt good to just left it to professionals that know what’s they’re doing. And I got to hang out with two of my good friends ( and ) and just make music together. Cons… The only con I can really think of was that I didn’t get to sleep in my own bed every night. I was 3000 miles from my bed the whole time!
Considering that this was your first time recording in a studio is there anything you would do differently next time?
Colleen: Umm, I mean there are definitely things I would do differently next time because I want it to be different every time but for that specific experience I just wanted to totally let go and let them work their magic. So yeah, there’s things I would do differently but I think for what we were going for it worked out really well.
Listening to the album there’s so much honesty behind it, especially in tracks like “Things That Are Bad For Me (Part 1 & 2)” and “Deeper Than Love”. When writing was there ever a time that you felt maybe you were reveling too much of yourself?
Colleen: Not when writing it but when it came to recording “Deeper Than Love” I was worried. I actually ended up recording that song by myself because I didn’t want to sing the lyrics in front of the engineers. So I kinda chickened out with that. I send Jake and Casey, who I worked on the album with, a demo it and they really liked it and didn’t think I was a big freak after so that gave me to the confidence of going on with it.
I know I’ve listened to that song on repeat and have easily related to many parts of the song. Not to mention the countless reviews from people saying the same thing. How does it feel to have written this song that just laid it all on the line and then know there are people who can understand the message behind it?
Colleen: It’s awesome! I kinda figured that would be the case. I feel like the album speaks for the every man or woman, every person and I knew that people would identify with it. It was still very scary but knowing that everyone feels like this was a big motivator.
I mentioned the “Things That Are Bad For Me” tracks before and I recently read an article that stated that you actually stopped smoking weed.
Colleen: Really? I am trying to quit smoking weed and I am smoking a lot less. I think I mentioned the desire to quit and the person writing just went with it. But I am still smoking weed but I’m trying to quit and I will quit someday.
Have you found cutting down has helped in your work process or is it pretty much the same?
Colleen: It’s the same. Sometimes I smoke and it makes me want to be creative and sometimes I want to just lie on the couch and do nothing. Which is most of the time. But I want to quit for health reasons more than anything else.
Your music is usually described as “stoner rock” or “stoner pop”. Obviously there are tons of men in the music world who are open about their use but not a lot of women. Do you find that being a woman in the music scene that’s openly 4/20 friendly is a kind of stigma?
Colleen: Coming from where I come from it’s not really a big deal at all and that’s the way it should be. I feel like it’s not detrimental a drug for it to be an issue. So as a stigma, nah, it’s just another thing I do. I’ve always felt comfortable doing it.
The album is called I Want to Grow Up which is obviously around a theme of maturing. I’m close in age to you so I can understand and relate to the tracks but there’s going to be a younger audience interested in the album as well. Do you feel like there was a level of relatability in the album for younger listeners.
Colleen: Sure. I just know that when I younger I listened to artists who were in their late twenties, early thirties and it influenced me and shaped who I am and that’s kinda how you learn. I’m not gonna change what I say just to reach a certain audience but if what I do say reaches a younger audience that’s awesome. If it reaches an older audience that’s awesome. I think what I’m saying is universally relatable and if they don’t get it now they will one day. Maybe something to look forward to?
Do you have a message for some younger listeners?
Colleen: Yeah! I want them to know that you should want to grow up! That you should be responsible for your own shit. You should think that’s it’s cool to be responsible and in charge of your own destiny.
Speaking of music you listened to growing up, who were some of the women who you listened to that helped shape you? Who are some that influenced you?
Colleen: I loved TLC when I was really young. I really loved Veruca Salt. They were the first band I saw in concert.
The Muffs. Sierra Hot Night, they were an all girl garage band from Sweden. I loved Toni Braxton too.
Since the album came out you’ve been non-stop with promo and touring. When are things finally going to slow down? When will you finally get a break?
Colleen: I’m not sure. I’m gonna have a break to just chill in LA in October but then I’m on tour again in November and December. I’m kinda just taking it all as it comes. Touring is awesome but so is just taking a break to hang out and write more music but yeah, we’ll see!
Green’s album I Want To Go Up is out now on Hardly Art.