Adam Green’s next New York City show is a big deal, even to him. He’ll be taking over the theatre district on the night of May 10th to play the venerable, velvet-seated Town Hall.

It’s not only the grandness of the place that’s special; there’s also the fact that Green hasn’t played America in a year and a half, (except for a couple of low-key performances with his UK friends, The Paddingtons, during Fashion Week last February). “I try not to overplay New York because I don’t want people to take it for granted that I’m from here. If I could, I’d just play one concert a year.”

The six albums now under his belt are just one side of Adam Green, but live, there’s a lot of other magic which may unfold. Green explains, “I think my live concerts are always the best. I’ve never had a tight thing going on and it’s always been slightly about to derail.”

He doesn’t mean “derail” in the unrivaled, unraveling sense of some of those well-documented Babyshambles shows overseas, however. It’s more the fact that he likes to experiment, and see how close he can come to teetering on the edge of a live concert, perhaps more like a Fiery Furnaces or Amy Winehouse show, when neither the performers or the audience can predict where it’s going to go next. “Well, I don’t know,” Green says. “I stopped touring last year because I think my concerts were getting too erratic and I think the fuse went out. This Bowery Ballroom concert I had last year was a total disgrace. I played for like three hours, blacked out, and don’t even remember the concert. I sold out this concert and by the end, there were five people just watching me play “Heart and Soul” on the piano.” He adds, “So I’m looking forward to the Town Hall show. I think everything’s coming up roses. This whole Juno soundtrack [which features the song “Anyone Else But You” by his former band, The Moldy Peaches], the whole deal…”

The Moldy Peaches’ recent appearance on The View and any success the pair [Green and Kimya Dawson] has found since their old song became a certifiable hit off of Juno’s soundtrack can only have helped Adam Green’s solo career. One can imagine his MySpace friend requests going through the roof when he mentioned his new album, Sixes & Sevens, to Whoopi Goldberg after The Moldys’ appearance on her daytime show. Green isn’t quite sure. “I don’t think so,” he laughs. “Maybe… it’s possible. I think I got some more friends. I probably grew some more enemies too.”

Television appearances and famous soundtracks aside, the wonders and merits of Sixes & Sevens allow it to speak for itself. After all, it’s an eclectic, rewarding record boasting twenty songs, gospel singers, lush, vintage arrangements, and some spoken word in the mix. Every time you listen, you hear something more in the nuances that keeps you wanting to play the album again.

“This is the shortest long album,” Green says. “I was hoping that would happen, so it has not only variety, but details. 20 songs, 48 minutes. I’ve always wanted to make an album that was formidable in length, but I don’t think I had the time before. It turned out that instead of making the songs longer, I made more songs.” There is something to be said for short and sweet songs that pack a punch like those on Sixes & Sevens.

“I just haven’t discovered the side of myself that would write long songs. It’s not that I don’t like when other people do it,” Green continues. “I guess I’m curious as to what song I’ve written is the most annoying because it’s been abbreviated, which one people would want me to extend out. I’d almost be willing to try just taking a song of mine and make it longer at some point. I never get bored of listening to that last song on Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde, ‘Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands.’ It’s very hypnotic. I can listen to that forever. It’s just not what I’ve done. Whatever. Fuck it.”

This time around, what Green has done, as far as recording, is quite different from how he worked on his previous albums. Spending time in Nashville inspired much of his writing and new studio methods. Green says, “I was co-writing some songs with Harper Simon for his record but it never came out. I got to record with Bob Johnston, which was an honor, and a crew of Nashville old session guys who played on Bob Dylan records, Leonard Cohen records, and with Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. Watching the way they worked inspired the process for me to record this record.”

He adds, “I think I started to demand all kinds of weird stuff from the guys I was playing with, especially involving overdubs. In the past, we had always made the records after we played all the songs live. Essentially, the albums were exactly like the sound of us playing live under ideal circumstances. No overdubs.” For Sixes & Sevens, Green enlisted the arrangement skills of veteran musician David Campbell, (known for his work with Beck, among others). As Green tells it, “we hadn’t played any of the songs live so I actually got to work with the minutiae and got to use production.”

Green’s idea to use gospel singers for an added dynamic can be seen as yet another feather in his cap for album number six. “We spent three days together recording… I gave them very little direction and they were good. They thought I was very funny. When they first saw me, they were like, ‘You?’,” he laughs. “Then they got into the recording booth, and I was in the control room, and I just heard them looking over all the lyric sheets I wrote out for them. They were just giggling.”

That being said, some of the songs, like “Getting Led” and “You Get So Lucky” and “Festival Song” aren’t really that humorous. Green says, “A lot of the album is much darker than the single ‘Morning After Midnight.’ It’s kind of a mellow album. There’s a lot of stuff about relationships: being domesticated, feeling fatalistic.”

Much of Green’s inspiration, these days, comes from stories his friends tell him, not so much from the plots of films or books that we’ve all seen. “If they [friends] tell me a story, I can ask questions so it’s good.” The natural drama that unfolds day by day while living in a city like New York provides yet more rich fodder for Green’s lyrics.

He says, “I think we have a lot of high contrast situations that happen in New York. More than anything, it’s funny how sometimes the outside streets here can seem very inside. They’re kind of like hallways. That was an idea that I first heard about in a David Berman book called Actual Air, where he started talking about how hallways are outdoor spaces in our own homes. I think that, in New York, the streets are so similar to hallways and corridors because of the grid system. I feel like they can actually put a carpet on Bedford Avenue [in Williamsburg, Brooklyn]. They should carpet the whole street. It has a very loungey, college dorm feel.”

For a guy like Adam Green, the world is an oyster. It seems there can never be too much inspirational material for songs or too many ideas for the next project. The danger, perhaps, is in his not knowing when to relax. “You can spread yourself too thin,” Green says. “I like to say stuff like, ‘I’d like to write an album for David Bowie,’ but the truth is, I’ll be really lucky to write this next album for myself. I’m really not as conceited as all that. I don’t take it for granted that I’ll get to make another, even though I will, contractually, get to make another album, whatever people think. I’m sick of all these people who hate me. There are always some people who want me to lose. They’re emo saps.”

–Madeline Virbasius-Walsh, Photos by Tear-n Tan. Thanks to Mine Metal Art in Brooklyn for the location.

www.adamgreen.net

 
  1. Shiver me timbers, them’s some great ifnrmoation.

    [Reply]