I like what it says about The Greencards in their biography: It says that they have a multi-dimensional Americana vision. Some may say that it’s rather odd that two Australians, Carol Young and Kym Warner, have been able to tap into a new sound that incorporates so many different influences from around this country and have totally mesmerized everyone who hears them. This Q and A discusses the music they listened to “back home” and how the band came into existence as well as some tidbits about their memorable tour with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson.
To learn even more about The Greencards, please visit them at their website.
This insanely talented band will be playing at the me&thee in Marblehead, MA on Friday, October 19.
‘Can you tell us how the band came to be?
Carol and I moved to the U.S in 2001 with the specific plan in mind. To be a part of the acoustic music that is so prevalent in the US. We fell in love with the city of Austin, Texas from the moment we landed and recognized it as a really vibrant musical town. The Greencards came about from us wanting to start playing live and as regularly as possible. We started with a Sunday brunch show at Mother Egan’s Irish Pub, basically playing for tips. Eventually that became five or six regular shows a week until we started touring in the Summer of 2002.
How did you learn about American music when you were growing up?
Music was a big part of my upbringing. There was always a lot of music played in my parents’ house both on records and live jamming. Everything from Elvis to The Everly Brothers, Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs to Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, Buddy Holly, Julie London to New Grass Revival. I’m thankful for being exposed to such a broad spectrum of musical styles whilst growing up. My Dad is a multi-instrumentalist and great singer still performing to this day.
It’s been said that you had a love of an eclectic mix of musicians — Bob Dylan, David Bowie, and Fairport Convention. That’s quite an interesting mix of influences…and to think that they helped to mold your unique “Americana” sound. Care to explain?
Very true. I / We listen to many styles of music constantly, and get something different form each of them. Bob Dylan and Tom Petty for instance are amazing lyricists, and have so many great and interesting songs and records and have always had incredible bands playing with them. I love the riffs in hard rock / heavy metal stuff like AC/DC and Iron Maiden … the energy is undeniable in those bands. We love Pink Floyd and David Gilmour for the sheer brilliance and class, The Beatles for everything (especially George Harrison), The Stones for being the rambunctious beauty that they are, and then you’ve got the heart and soul of Americana songs from the likes of Rodney Crowell, Robert Earl Keen, Guy Clark, and Bruce Springsteen. Then there’s Emmy Lou Harris, Joni Mitchell, Alison Krauss and Bonnie Raitt. And The Greencards just wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Sam Bush and New Grass Revival.
Your music also has many “world” music touches interweaved throughout: gypsy music and Latin grooves immediately come to mind. Have hardcore bluegrass fans scratched their heads in wonder or have they embraced these new sounds?
I’m happy to say that Greencards fans don’t fall under the category of hard core bluegrass and they have been willing and accepting of all the little curves we’ve thrown at them over the past 10 years. Coming from Australia, and traveling as much as we do, you get exposed to many different cultures and music is a big part of those cultures. We get a lot out of those experiences and so much of the creative inspiration for songs comes out of that.
The Greencards are known as a “newgrass” band. How do you compare newgrass to regular old bluegrass?
Bluegrass music has a distinct sound, and I believe the “rolling” 5-string banjo is the most integral part of that. Newgrass music has very few limitations and a far broader horizon in which to exist musically. I have never really considered The Greencards to be a bluegrass band.
Tell us what it was like to tour with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson. Was that the tour that went to various baseball parks around the country?
To answer the second part of your question first, Yes, it was. Minor league baseball stadiums… in the middle of summer!
That tour and that experience is still one of the greatest moments in the bands existence. To be a part of a huge tour like that, to get to see and hear two of the greatest ever American artists (and two of our heroes) perform for seven weeks straight was everything you could imagine it to be.
It was also a huge learning curve for the band to get to understand how to put on a show in a big outdoor setting, and how to structure and pace such a show. It definitely took us three or four shows to get our heads around that.
Do you have any new recording plans in the near future?
First thing is we need to get the songs. We’ve found a little time to write over the past few months but we have some time set aside at the end of 2012 to really knuckle down and see what we can come up with. We tend to work better when we have a schedule in mind. From there we’ll see what we can put together as far as the recording side of things go.