"It is wonderful to be able experience art without understanding how it was meant or what makes it good." (Kim Boekbinder said that during an interview I did with her) I might not have the biggest knowledge about music but I have a great passion for it. Passion is what counts.
I live in Berlin, Germany (born, raised and still resident) and this is my personal blog about music and other things that cross my way. Things I love to be exact. And even though I am German and my English is still not perfect, this blog is in English.
To be honest: I am not quite too sure about what I think about a “new” Johnny Cash album. The song “She Used To Love Me A Lot” is taken from the never released album “Out Among The Stars” (release due 25th of March) who he recorded in the early 80’s with Billy Sherill. “Pop Country” is what John Carter Cash, son of June Carter and Johnny Cash called this album when he talked to the Associated Press. I really don’t know-maybe it has to grow on me.
But what I find amazing is the video, directed by Cash-fan John Hillcoat. For me it perfectly reflects Cash….these dark, desperate, depressing pictures - looking old but are very modern. And in between: reminiscences of Cash. It fit’s him perfectly, I think. But have a look yourself:
For round about 25 years The Notwist are making music together. The core of the German band are Martin Gretschmann, Andi Haberl and the brothers Markus and Michael Acher. Last week they played at Heimathafen in Berlin a sold out concert and it was amazing. The crowd danced throughout for over two hours and three encores. And what counted was their music. They didn’t put on a huge show or were saying anything except for ‘many thanks’ and stuff like that. They are engineers - they look like a bunch of men who spend their days in a cellar working like (insane) engineers on their music and and just ocassionally leave it to play an amazing concert…. ok, they’re on tour around Europe for some weeks to promote their first record in six years, “Close To The Glass”.
Their mix of electro and rock is rather eclectic which could easily drop into a completely mess but they know how it works. They’re very good at wandering on this fine line with they electro fiddeling, drums, bass guitar and their very own xylophone player - that’s something I haven’t seen to often on Rock concerts to be honest.
I brought some photos with me - they did have some extra lights:
Thanks for reading,
10 Mar - D-Stuttgart - Wagenhallen
11 Mar - F-Lyon - Epicerie Moderne
12 Mar - F-Nantes - Stereolux sold-out
13 Mar - P-Paris - La Maroquinerie
14 Mar - F-Lille - Le Grand Mix
15 Mar - UK-Manchester - The Deaf Institute
16 Mar - UK-Glasgow - Mono
17 Mar - UK-Bristol - The Fleece
18 Mar - UK London - Village Underground
19 Mar - B-Brussels - Botanique
20 Mar - D-Köln - E-Werk
05 Apr - IT-Milano - Magnolia
06 Apr - IT-Foligno - Serendipity
07 Apr - IT-Roma - Parco della Musica
08 Apr - IT-Bolgna - Estratgon
09 Apr - IT-Padova - Mame
10 Apr - SL-Ljubljana - Channel Zero
11 Apr - HR-Zagreb - Mochvara
12 Apr - A-Linz - Posthof
13 Apr - D-München - Circus Krone
25 May - D-Berlin - Astra
26 May - D-Berlin - Astra
27 May - D-Hamburg - Laeiszhalle
28 May - NL-Amsterdam - Melkweg
9 Jun - US-New York - Webster Hall
10 Jun - US-Philadelphia - Theatre of Living Arts
11 Jun - CAN-Montreal - Societe des arts technologiques
12 Jun - CAN-Toronto - Lee’s Place
13 Jun - US-Chicago - House of Blues
14 Jun - US-San Francisco - Regency Ballroom
15 Jun - US-Los Angeles - The Fonda Theatre
So, a couple of months ago FastForward Magazine sent me out to meet a guy called Dallas Green, also known as City And Colour and former band member of Alexisonfire, and talk about his latest album “The Hurry And The Harm”. We did that, especially about “Thirst” and how writing a song for some else influenced his writing. And how it was to work with strangers on his music. But most importantly we both agreed on how awesome his bassist Jack Lawrence is who played bass on the record and became part of Green’s new live band and a friend.
Find the German version here - if you prefer English, just keep reading ;) Enjoy!
Dörte Heilewelt: What I found pretty interesting - I have read a lot of interviews beforehand - you said “Thirst” was written for someone else and beforehand you wrote more personal songs and your songs are very personal to you - did writing “Thirst” change something for your future writing?
Dallas Green: I think maybe I am writing the same way I usually do but I think what “Thirst” did was just it sort of gave me… the confidence in myself that I could write a song just to write a song and still be enjoyable and I still like it. I do enjoy singing it and when we play it every night, it’s one of my favourite songs to sing. I don’t think that’s gonna necessarily mean I am gonna write songs like that all the time but it’s nice to know that I could.
Did writing personal songs - to me they always feel very personal - get easier over the time or do you still sometimes think “ooh, I shouldn’t write about this-that’s a little too far”?
It’s not hard because I wonder if it’s too personal. It’s just difficult because want to make sure that when I am writing about something that’s personal to me, that’s about something in my life whether it be my family or something I am going through, I want to know it’s good, I want to know it’s the best I can do. That’s why it is harder. I’m never too worried…the things I have chose to write about tend to be quite personal but I have never thought that it’s too personal, I think. I try to at least still write the song in a relatable enough way that even if you don’t know me or what I’m writing it about, you can still listen to it and take whatever you need from it.
Does your family ever thought that it is too personal?
Or like find different sides of you?
Sometimes. Sure my mother thinks I am very sad when she listens to my music and I think I get this misconception out of people because of this music I write. They think that I am depressed, that I am this sad person which to a degree I am but I am also happy at times but when I am happy I don’t feel like writing songs.
I have heard this from other artists as well if they are happy they don’t feel the need of writing songs but if they are sad they want to get it out somehow so they write a song.
I think some people - like people who are professional songwriters - just write a song and give it to whoever takes it. Now you are just writing a song, so you can write about whatever you can write about: this flower on the table, you can write about Friday night, you can write about going to the club but I don’t approach songwriting that way, never have. When I am having a good time with my friends or walking my dog or having my happy moments, I don’t feel like writing, it’s the other stuff that I want to get out.
In my imagination it must be difficult when you’re happy and you start to think that you can’t write a song right now and getting worried about being too happy to write music.
Yeah, I have definitely felt that way because I am not gonna write a fake personal song. So, that’s why it takes me a long time with lyrics because I sort of have to wait for the feelings to show up as oppose to just like “what do I want to say now”.
It’s been almost three years between each record. This was quite fast with two years.
But it also was tumultuous two years in my life so think I had a lot of content to deal with, transitional period in my life and so I found all these songs basically.
But now you need to get sad again.
Well, we’ll see. But “Thirst” is a proof…it’s another move in my life. I think I have written enough songs now that I can approach writing a song the way I do from an observational perspective now and feel good about it as opposed to always be afraid to not write something not that connected to me.
It’s good, I guess.
It is. I think so because I wanna be able to do this for however long I want to do it. And I wanna know that I can write a good song that people will like and that I will like even if it’s not about a tough time in my own life. Everyone goes through it, so if I can use the tools I have learned in records and records of writing from my perspective.
You went also to Nashville to record your album rather than California - did you plan having musicians like Jack Lawrence (Bass for The Raconteurs, Dead Weather, The Greenhornes) on your album or was it a spontaneous idea who you’re going to work with on the album?
Well, Alex Newport who produced the album he found all the guys. I had send him all the demos that I had recorded in my house by myself. I had never made a record like that, like picking people. There were some people that I kind of had in mind but I didn’t know how to go about finding them. Alex put together the guys that he thought were gonna do the song justice and thankfully he found Jack who is now in the band.
I love him! I once waited for him out after a Raconteurs concert. He was the last one to leave the Huxley’s. And we were waiting. I think we were a bit creepy.
He is very quiet.
(That’s me and Mr. Lawrence back in 2008 - he showed up during this interview with Dallas Green - I might have glowed out of happiness…thinking about it now that was a bit embarrassing.)
We were very fan-ish, waiting for him.
He is great. He is one of the best people I have ever met. I am thankful that he not only played on the record because I think the bass playing is one of my favourite parts of the records but then from that I have a new friend. The choice wasn’t necessarily spontaneous but it was pretty much just put together. The first day in the studio was the first day I met Jack.
How weird is it to play with someone you haven’t played with before?
I thought it was going to be quite weird. But because of Jacks professionalism and you know he is a great person and the same with Matt who plays drums and Bo who plays keyboard and James who played drums as well, it wasn’t weird. All the people we picked were wonderful people as well. Everyone just got along like it was no big deal even though we have only known each other for one or two days.
Is it because you have one big thing in common which is music which is an instant connection?
Yes, I think so. That’s the instant connection and then hopefully you’re like minded enough that beyond that you can find another level of comfort and we did right away. I was very, very lucky to have the experience go that well, especially for my first time doing something like that.
It could have gone the other way round easily.
Exactly. And that was what I was worried about, that I wouldn’t like the guys or that they wouldn’t seem interested.
Just doing their job without any addition…
Yes, but it wasn’t. It was the completely opposite of that. They were awesome.
Did they change parts of the music of your songs?
The songs were very, very much together before we went into the studio but I think, naturally their ability changed the outcome of the songs. Naturally I could play or write a part one way but Jack obviously will play it his way. And the same with Matt who plays the drums. He is a unbelievable drummer. I can give him only so much direction but his ability takes over and changes the shape of a song.
Also, a way of letting go a little bit. I guess it also must be like…You created something and then you have to let go. Maybe it’s not that worse for you because you started in a band and then you started your solo project.
There is more….the solo stuff is more like mine but it was nice to let go of certain ideas and trust that these guys do the right thing.
Could you have done it beforehand?
I don’t know. I don’t think so, because I needed to get to this point in order to be comfortable enough with myself and with the songs. Of course after experiencing this I could say I wish had done every record like that but I don’t think I would have been able to.
You’re very happy about “The Hurry And The Harm”. How long did take with the previous records until you wanted to change something?
Yeah, I am sure there are certain things I listen to and think “I could have done that better” but right now when I listen to this it’s exactly what it should be which is good. Now I hopefully can move on and do better than that and improve it but right now I am happy.
Do you always need to challenge yourself to get better?
Yes, I think. I always try to. I always want to be better. You know, especially when you’re writing-you probably know this - you never want to think that this is the best I can do. You want to think that’s the best I can do now but I want to be able to be better than that. I never want to know that I’ve written my best song. I want to hope you’re always striving towards getting the best song but you’ll never reach it. It’s an endless process.
But sometimes it’s tiring…
Absolutely. It’s terrible.
I guess if you want to be a good artist that’s one part of what you have to do-you shouldn’t be satisfied with yourself too much at no point, except you’re KISS then you can do the same for 40 years [laughter on both sides].
Well, that’s the thing, too, you can decide that this is, what you’re good at or this is what you do and then you do it like the Ramones. But everyone loves the Ramones because of what they sound like. But for me I don’t feel that way, I always want to evolve and take on new influences and try to do different things. It’s not like an insult to the Ramones or KISS, it’s just the way I feel, the way I want to do things.
Thank you for your time, Dallas!
Of course “The Hurry And The Harm” has been out for some time now, it’s highly recommendable! He is currently on tour in Europe and America with his band.
Thank you for reading,