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| 11 June 2015 | Reply

By Shane Pinnegar

Fans of Graham Greene’s virtuoso guitar work have been thrilled by his burst of creativity of late. Formerly the guitarist with late ‘80s/early ‘90s local hair rock heroes Ice Tiger, he has co-written and played guitar on the Jac Dalton Band album Icarus released in 2010, and recorded a follow-up which remains unreleased at this time other than the single Roll With the Punches. He’s put out The Tale Goes On EP in partnership with wife Donna Greene (one of the country’s most underrated vocalists) in Resonance Project. And he released his own solo instrumental EP Lord Of Misrule last year.

Graham Greene 2015

On top of that Greene has played with Perth AC/DC tribute bands Hells Bells and Lady Zeppelin (the latter also fronted by Mrs G), as well as staging several highly successful charity gigs with Donna as Siren in support of Multiple Sclerosis, which Donna was diagnosed with a couple of years ago.

Somehow Greene has found the time to record enough sterling material to turn Lord Of Misrule into a full-length solo (mostly) instrumental album – his first since 2006’s acclaimed Leap Of Face – called Down Devils Road, and it is quite possibly his best record yet.

During a long chat we found that Greene has channelled much of his and Donna’s personal adversity into the new material.

You’d better get comfortable: Greene’s story is an involved one, and one doesn’t so much interview him, as wind him up and let him go – devoutly passionate in equal measures about his music and his family, he’s been through a lot of ups and downs lately and has a lot to get off his chest.

Self-released, Down Devils Road is available through the normal online outlets as well as through Greene’s own website –

For starters, how does Greene feel about Down Devils Road – does he agree that it is possibly the best collection of songs he’s ever released?

“Thank you very much. I had a feeling that it was good. The album wasn’t actually an album project from beginning to end. I didn’t start recording stuff thinking, ‘I’m going to do an album.’ A couple of the earlier tracks that were written, chronologically, one of them was originally slated to be a theme for a TV show that some people in Adelaide were putting together to sell to China. That didn’t happen so I was left with this short piece of music that had been written to be uptempo and exciting and attention grabbing. It was a pretty cool piece of music. I completed that because I had nothing else to do with the piece so I extended it, repeated a few parts, added a solo and what have you.

Graham Greene - Down Devils Road coverGraham Greene - Down Devils Road cover

“Another piece was a little riff that I’d been mucking around with in rehearsal for probably a couple of years and in the end Annemieke [Heijne, Greene’s co-guitarist in The Jac Dalton Band] said to me, ‘if you don’t do something with that piece of music, I am, okay?’ That turned into Bobbo’s Café. Another piece that Annemieke threatened me with the same thing turned into the title track, Down Devils Road. That rhythm riff behind the motif was really cool. We’d even jammed on it a couple of times and in the end she just said, ‘look, do something [with it] or I’m going to.’

“Then around the time that [my wife] Donna was diagnosed [with MS], everything else slowed down to ‘this isn’t important right now’. We spent a year to 18 months getting re-balanced and figuring out what we could do and what we were capable of doing and by that time we’d done the Resonance Project EP [Tale Goes On, released in January 2014] because we’d had all of the music recorded.

Resonance Project - Tale Goes On EP

“While we were working with Jac [Dalton’s band] I was recording other music at home and that was all the backing tracks – basically I had a whole album worth of Resonance Project stuff done but Donna was still trying to find her equilibrium and the MS was still figuring out where it was going to sit.

“We went into a studio and we were going to do one song and release a single because we’d written Tale Goes On and we thought that was a really good song. I’d been experimenting with the symphonic side of things. I’d been listening to a bit of Nightwish and what have you and thought, ‘well these guys are really cool. I quite like what they do’. Classical music is always really close to me because that’s what I used to listen to as a kid, so we did that.

“We were in the studio and Donna had said, ‘in case I get on a roll, take some more tracks in’. I’d given half a dozen tracks to the engineer where we did the vocals and Donna got in there and of course once you’re in performance mode it’s like running onto a football field. You lift and the endorphins kick in and you stop feeling the pain and the discomfort and you become completely focused. Donna did that and put her head down and said, ‘keep going – next track – next track’. We got to the end of it and she’d recorded the lead vocals for an EP, which was, considering the place we were in at the time, that was pretty super human.

“We did all of that and we bought the tracks home, recorded some harmony vocals at home and then I neatened all of them up, laid them into the sessions that I had to build instrumental tracks and we wound up with an EP. Around that time I’d been doing instrumentals as well so we had the tracks for Lord Of Misrule, Tale Goes On and while we were at it I remastered my very first EP, Blue Feathers, because I’d never put that online. We released all three of them around the same time as digital EPs. I had those tracks left over and then things had started to improve a little bit [with Donna].

“I picked up a job playing with Hell’s Bells [AC/DC tribute band] because I’d done a few years doing a day job and was injured doing that and was told if I went back to doing any more labouring work I’d be up for some really expensive reconstruction work on all my arm joints. That threw me back into music by default. It had to be something that I knew was going to pay because we were existing on a disability pension and a carer’s allowance. Around that time, Todd [from Hells Bells] was getting ill, although the public weren’t aware of it. Mal [Osborne, Hells Bells rhythm guitarist] had contacted me on the off chance that I’d be interested and I surprised us both by saying ‘yes’ and got into that. Then through some of that, I’d been doing some writing… I’d been inspired by learning all the Accadacca stuff, because I’d only ever played a couple of AC/DC tracks. We’d done Whole Lotta Rosie and Long Way To The Top.”

There was also that hillbilly version of Back In Black on the Jac Dalton album Icarus

Jac Dalton - Icarus cover

“Yeah, we did that and the parts were similar but the feel was completely different. The first thing I did was sit down and learn Back In Black in it’s entirety, the whole album. By the end of that… I’d always felt that Malcolm was the bedrock of that band and by the time I’d got to the end of learning Back In Black I was sitting there thinking Malcolm Young is a frigging genius. The album itself is the perfect album that a band in that situation could have done. In a way it was like when Deep Purple came out with Burn. Roger Glover, who was the producer, had left, Ian Gillan, who was the voice of Deep Purple, had left and [people] were thinking, ‘well what are they going to do?’ They got Coverdale and Hughes and they released Burn – and Burn was an incredible album! It was a similar sort of thing. I was really enjoying playing the song, the simplicity and the groove and the no-bullshit about it was really quite refreshing to play.

“I started writing a few things like that and that’s where Hand On The Handle [the only non-instrumental track on the new album] came from. I’d written the thing because it was fun, [then] Donna was listening to it one day and started singing some stuff. Before we knew it we’d written a lyric and we were in the studio slapping it down, and the last few tracks that I’d written for Down Devils Road were written while I was really going through [the process of] finding my own place in our ‘new normal’. I was spending so much time caring for Donna and for her Mum and trying to fit in other stuff as well, like a bit of teaching and that sort of thing. The last four tracks that I wrote, one of them is the opening track and the other three come towards the end of the album and there’s this suite of four tracks that are almost like a chronicle, in particular Through The Dark, the long piece with all the orchestration and stuff. That is probably as much of a personal statement as I’ve ever put into a piece of music.”

Greene has described this track, Through The Dark, as being a chronology of the couple’s personal journey coming to grips with the MS – but not from the start to the finish of the song, but rather from recording the musical tracks from the ground upward. As a non-musician that’s hard to get my head around…

“There’s a couple of tracks that when I listen to them back, I’ve been sitting on my own with headphones on and I get sucked back into them. I can feel what I was feeling at a particular part of the song. With Through The Dark, all the backing tracks and all of that sort of thing were written earlier and then they sat for a while and did nothing for a couple of months because I’d put the feeling into the backing tracks like all of the chords and the arrangement and all of that sort of thing, most of the orchestration and I emotionally couldn’t do anymore with the track. I’d run out of things to say. It was like you’d spilled your guts to someone and then you were completely exhausted afterwards and you couldn’t talk anymore.

“It sat like that for a while and I went and recorded some other pieces and then I’d gained some strength and then came back to the piece. It was a little bit of a ‘David and Goliath’ thing because it was a long piece. There were some parts of the song where I didn’t know what I was going to do. I wasn’t coming up with any ideas – even when I was in the shower, which is where a lot of the ideas come! It was a matter of walking into the lion’s den and going, ‘you know what, fuck it. Whatever happens, happens. I’m ready for whatever happens. Bring it baby’. I went in there and that was when it started getting really personal because I was sitting in there and nothing was working and it was like the song dragged it out of me. It was like, ‘well you’ve got to really mean this or this isn’t going to happen’. It was really hard to do. It’s like forcing yourself to be honest when you know you have to fess up to something. It was like going through counselling. It was like the only person that I could bullshit to was myself because no-one else was listening. I was in there with the music and it was me and the song, and it was like, ‘well, are you going to do this?’

“By this time we were thinking we’ve got enough stuff here for an album and the tracks were starting to run into each other and it was starting to look like a body of work. Up to that point it had been stuff that I was either doing out of [fun], then the later ones were the spilling of the guts. The last few tracks, Race To The Eastern Sea, Tonight We Ride, some of those things, while they may not have been as emotionally intensive as Through The Dark, they did get intense because I was in a place where the creativity was starting to flow but I was starting to have problems with stuff like sore hands where, not necessarily the tendons and stuff, but my fingertips were getting really sore from playing so much.

“I was playing all the bass parts and some of them are quite intense. I was playing hard and having to really focus. I was getting to the end of the track and I was panting and sweating a bit and I’d taken a handful of painkillers because I was determined to get to the end of it, but the hands were hurting and getting in the way. It was like, ‘screw you. You’re not getting in the way. I can see where the tune is going and I have to get there now’. Some of the tracks really became… it was enjoyable but afterwards it was like getting to the end of a marathon. There are times when you’re absolutely in pain and you want to stop and say, ‘why the hell am I doing this?’ You drive yourself through and you get to the end and you’re still alive and you’re thinking, ‘wow, I made it.’ Then there’s this big rush of, ‘hey, I actually made it’!

Graham Greene Ormsby Guitars

Does that go for physical and emotional exhaustion?

“Definitely. Some of the solos, I can even remember my thought processes that were going through my mind as the take was going down. Because I know the pieces so personally, I can hear bits where I’m playing and I’ve nailed the part, and then the part right after it lays back a little bit on the beat and that was where I was thinking to myself as I was playing, ‘holy shit, I nailed it!’ Then I’ve got through that bit and then another part has come along in the same solo and I can hear myself thinking, ‘this is a hard bit. Don’t think about it.’ All of these thought processes taking place in a fraction of a second. Then I’ve nailed that bit and then there’s a bit where I’ve held a note for three notes instead of playing three notes and that is me again going, ‘holy shit, I nailed it – keep going, you’re nearly finished’.

“All of this plays back through my head as I’m listening to it back. Rather than going through things and maybe going back and dropping in a part or something, this is where I really thought, ‘no stuff it. I’m not taking it easy’. I don’t know if I was testing myself to see how far I could go before cracking or whatever but getting the last tracks done was full on. I really pushed myself and demanded things of myself and refused to accept excuses from myself, if that makes any sense.”

As emotional as this creative process sounds, Down Devils Road is uplifting and exciting, and Greene tried a few different things – there’s some horns and strings on the album, a piano solo on Chicken Soup For The Soul, and some jazzy and bluesy touches here and there. It’s something of a departure for the ‘guitar shaman’.

“I think that came from the fact that I wasn’t planning an album and as part of that I wasn’t thinking at all who was going to listen to it. Once I’d done that a couple of times, I [thought], ‘who am I doing this for?’ Because I’m not really aiming at a demographic. I don’t have an A&R guy that I have to please. Essentially I was doing the tracks for myself – it was therapeutic for me to get the feelings down and when I got into the flow of putting the feelings down, that was when it got real. It was like, ‘if this is what I’m feeling, well this is what I’m putting down’.

“I’d always mucked around with blues and never considered myself a blues man or anything but I always loved the blues and I always played a lot of blues stuff, so Chicken Soup was like, ‘you know what? I’m going to do a blues thing. It’s going to be a simple chord progression and I’m going to play all of these things that I play all the time when I pick up a guitar and I’m faffing around’. Then I came to record the part and it wasn’t quite that easy to actually make a cohesive blues track. I borrowed a guitar off Perry [Ormsby, founder and luthier of Ormsby Guitars] and that always inspires me. When I meet a guitar it’s like meeting a new person, you get something off that person and it’s either some inspiration or some information or something like that. I got together with this guitar and the guitar went, ‘well dude, you should play this’. Rather than trying to over-think it, I followed that. There was a lick that I thought, ‘no, that’s a clichéd blues lick’, but it was what I was feeling and what fit. I played the clichéd blues lick, rather than over-thinking it and thinking, ‘well I should try and do something a little bit different’. It was like, ‘no dude, this is blues.’

“It’s like playing classical music. You have your standard repertoire: don’t get clever. It’s already as good as it’s going to be, so say it the way you would say it. It’s like reciting Shakespeare. The words have already been written. You put your interpretation on it because the greatness is already there. That’s what I did with Chicken Soup For The Soul, even down to the piano solo. With that song I’d get through a part and feel what should come next. I’d work that out and then put it down and then I’d get to the end of that and, ‘that feels like it should happen next’. I got to that point and it was like, ‘you know what? The band stops and the piano player starts playing’. I got to the end of it and I’m really happy with the piece. It was like, ‘hey, this sounds like a blues track.’

“That sounds a little bit slick but a lot of people do blues and it sounds like some guy playing blues licks. I really dug it. I was … One thing I was pretty happy with the album was my performance playing bass because I work very much at weird hours and also on the spur of the moment. It didn’t make sense to me to hire people in or get people in to do it because I knew I could hear and feel what I wanted to happen. Fortunately having played with a whole heap of really, really good bass players, not the least of which is Jim [Awram, who has played alongside Greene in his solo trio, Resonance Project , and The Jac Dalton Band] – the guy I’ve been playing with for the last few years. I channelled that and thought like a bass player, which I’ve been working on for the last 10 or 15 years, getting it down and being a bass player and not a guitar player that plays bass. Some of the parts really worked well. There’s little things like that.

“My work with the orchestration – because I grew up listening to Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and people like that, because being in the bush [Greene spent his childhood in Western Australia’s remote north] there’s no television, there’s no commercial radio, so apart from classical music I had the old war songs that I’d sing and play with mum and her mates – [so] I had a feel of what the classical stuff would do. I had no expertise but having a really good recording set up where I could use sampled orchestra sounds and sampled brass sounds, so it didn’t sound like me dicking around on a cheesy synth. I actually got into it – I’d never been a huge fan of brass and horns, mainly because I’d had some unfortunate experiences with horn players when I was a sound engineer, trumpet players that don’t know how to use mics and that sort of thing. That was one of the things that I pushed aside because when we did… I think it was Bobbo’s Café, I heard a horn line and part of me went, ‘no, no, no, dude, no horns’. But that was what would sound good, [so] rather than sitting there being precious about it, I wrote in a horn line and played it in and it sounded really cool.

Graham Greene 03

“Part of me responded to that, so Down Devils Road is another [song] where the guitar and the horns share the motif. I’d started getting into the orchestration thing with the Resonance Project stuff with songs like Tale Goes On and Fire In Your Liberty, and that sort of thing. I started putting in string lines and some horn lines as opposed to just your standard string lines that a lot of rock bands use and I found myself arranging the strings and arranging the horns and arranging some timpani and stuff like that and having the parts playing off each other. By the time I got to put down the melody guitars and stuff like that there was already a piece of music there that was moving and was a piece of music unto itself. Back to Through The Dark there are sections there that are musical sections and there’s no soloing over the top. The music stands alone. You listen to some of the great symphonies, there are long passages of music where there’s no solo. It’s the orchestra playing the music. I think that’s how I approached a couple of parts.

“I really wound up getting into the orchestration side of things and some people were leaving comments on my artist page on Facebook and one of them had heard some of the tracks and we started joking about wouldn’t it be fun to do something with an orchestra and I said, ‘yeah, it’s been done but I would love to do something – [but] finding an orchestra is difficult to do’. This guy said, ‘well what about WASO [The Western Australian Symphony Orchestra]?’ I said, ‘if I was going to pick an orchestra, that would be it’. He said, ‘leave it with me’. So there’s someone out there, that may know someone, that might be chatting to someone, about the possibility of doing something orchestral!

“The thought of doing something with an orchestra was [there] ever since I heard Deep Purple with the London Symphony at the Royal Albert Hall. You see people, Yngwie [Malmsteen] has done his orchestral thing, Metallica did one, Kiss did one. I often thought about it because I love orchestral music but I always felt that my music was just a little bit like, well, how do you fit an orchestra into this? Then as we developed the Resonance Project stuff and then my latest stuff, [I realised] there’s enough material there to perhaps put a program together. I have no idea how it would be done, whether it would be a performance or whatever, and working with orchestras is really hard because there’s a lot of people and they need to be paid. If someone came along that thought the idea was good enough to underwrite it, I would probably be willing to go through the work required because it would be a lot.”

Is there anything else that you’d like to try if finances were not an issue?

“I think I’ve covered a lot of my bases. I’d often thought of bringing in string quartets and that sort of thing. I’ve contemplated doing a full album of blues. It felt really good to do Chicken Soup For The Soul and I’ve got a couple of ideas that are floating around in my head that haven’t materialized onto disc or tape yet. I think I’ve covered most of my bases… [but] there are some things I’d like to revisit.

“The Resonance Project stuff was really fulfilling apart from the fact it was … It’s good working with Donna and I’m not a really huge collaborator. I don’t go out looking for people to work with. I happen to have one of the best singers in the country drop in my lap and marry me. I’d be mad not to utilise that. We work well together and we work well separately but the guys that I play with, I’m really attached to, Troy [Brazier, drums] and Jim [Awram, bass]. If I think of playing, I think of those guys, the guys that we played in Lady Zeppelin and Jac Dalton Band with – Annemieke [Heijne, guitar with Dalton], Shane [Brady, drums with Lady Zeppelin] and Jason [Dohrmann, keyboards, guitars and backing vocals with Dalton] – they’re the band. It was us doing that show with John ‘Swanee’ Swan [a couple of years ago]. I even did a meditation album years ago that sold pretty well. I think I’ve covered all my bases, but if the opportunity came to do something with an orchestra, it would be cool. The only other thing was a thing that Cliff Linton and I have been bouncing off each other for a couple of years and that’s he and I playing together – and that would be a full-on jazz fusion thing, a la Steve Lukather and Larry Carlton. I don’t know if that would be with my people or his people or a conglomeration of both but Cliff Linton gave me four guitar lessons when I was nearly eighteen and they’re the only lessons I’ve ever had.

“We’ve been friends ever since. He maybe liked me as a person or saw that I had potential as a player? He’s always been there in the background since then, and it was last year he popped up the idea of maybe he and I playing together, the fusion thing and play some really good music, really, really well with some really, really good players. That would probably be a bit scary.”

Let’s get this straight: we have rock n’ roll, instrumentals, orchestral composition and jazz fusion. I can’t be the only person thinking this is all sounding like it’s heading in a bit of a Frank Zappa direction?!?

“Yeah! That would be interesting wouldn’t it? I know some pretty funny guys and some pretty good vocalists. Cliff has a guy called Bob Brisbane who sings with him – he’s a fantastic singer. He does the Steely Dan stuff and what have you, and he’s an American guy. Lovely bloke and a really, really good singer. He’s got a highly developed sense of humour and on something like that, it would be a hell of a job because those pieces of music are really intense. It would take a lot of work and someone would probably have to payroll it because that’s a lot of work to do for nothing. At the very least there’s a few things there that may or may not happen.

“I’m still monitoring my ears to see how they’re going [after some internal damage playing with Hells Bells last New Year’s Eve]. One ear is improving faster than the other one so that’s still a wait and see thing. A friend of mine when I was teaching last Monday, they hit a snare drum a few times to see how my ears went with those transient peaks that you don’t get listening to pre-recorded music. There was no problems there so the next thing to do is play a little bit louder at home, maybe get together with some mates and have a jam, and see how that goes with ear plugs and all that vibe and maybe get towards the situation where we might be able to perform something.”

Graham Greene 02

Having followed Graham Greene’s career since the Ice Tiger days, this writer can’t think of anything I’d like to hear more than him and Donna G playing a retrospective of your entire careers out front of an orchestra.

With that now a possibility – albeit with a fair few dominos needing to fall in the right direction before it could realistically happen – his instrumental version of Waltzing Matilda chosen to play over the titles of a recent Jay & Silent Bob DVD release, and PR representation in the U.K. aiming to place a couple of the new tracks on magazine cover mounts and seek radio play, things are looking rosy for Graham Greene.

“You never know. If you put it out there, let it float on the airwaves and swirl around the ether for a while, it may come back home to roost. You never know your luck.”

Knowing the passion both of the Greenes have for music – they’ve been professional musicians for some 30 years – it’s hardly surprising that their recent burst of creativity has coincided with Donna’s illness. Music is pivotal to these two, and it seems almost like they needed to create as a kind of emotional purge for what was going on in their lives.

“Definitely. I think it was like that for both of us. Donna, the first thing that she did was the Rock For MS thing [aka Siren, after a song by The Divinyls singer Chrissie Amphlett, who passed away from MS in 2013]. That was the first thing that Donna did once she recovered some equilibrium, and for a woman who has always been so dynamic… We’re a 24/7 couple, we’re always together and always doing things together, but we also stand alone and do other things. For Donna to be cut off at the knees like that, it was hard for both of us, but for someone with Donna’s drive and willpower, it laid her pretty low for a while and it was a depressing scenario – but it also got her back up. She was like, ‘screw you, I’m going to do this’, and she worked really hard through some of them. It wasn’t like, ‘wow, I’m better for three hours’, it was like, ‘wow, I’m making this happen for three hours’. She did some recording with Jamie [Page, another local guitar hero, ex-Trilogy, Cozy Powell, Black Steel] for a compilation CD they did, and Paul Reed Smith [Master luthier and chief of PRS Guitars] himself put some tracking on it…

“I was doing the Hell’s Bells thing and doing writing at home and then we got back together in the studio with this stuff that I’d been writing and put it all together with the Resonance Project EP. Hand on the Handle, the vocal track on Down Devils Road is where we were both much more stable and focused and we could really take it and give a good shake by the scruff of the neck. That’s what I think that track was about. It was a real, ‘you’re not going to get me down’ vibe, and Donna nailed the thing in two takes with a stage mic, not a studio mic. Every mic ever made loves her voice, so recording it from an engineer and producer perspective is really pretty easy. We don’t have to worry about tweaking tonal quality, it’s all there.

“The music is what we do. It’s all we’ve really ever done. It was something that we had to do and some of it happened of its own accord.

“I did tweet something months and months ago, that some albums seem to happen by accretion. There’s all the material swirling around a central core and bits of it drop in and form things. Rather than forming planets, we were forming songs – it was, ‘oh wow, we’ve done an album!’ It was right at the end that we actually thought, ‘this is an album’. It started out as a ‘dear diary’ where I was putting all my shit so I didn’t explode, and all of a sudden, there it was. All we really had to do was mix it, master it and do some cover art. There was that story to this album. The last one, Leap Of Face, was a story unto itself: that was when I met Perry [Ormsby]. I was getting all these guitars and they were writing songs for me. On the human side of that album, as I was starting it my mother passed away and then as I finished it, my father passed away. That album was book ended by two of the biggest tragedies I’m ever going to face… but out of it came such beauty. Welcome to the human condition, my friend.”

Having endured the ravages and uncertainties of Multiple Sclerosis, and the emotional trauma of finding a way to deal with it, seemingly hasn’t detracted from Donna’s vocal abilities: on Hand On The Handle she sounds as powerful and potent as ever.

“I think that’s the sign of a true artist and a truly committed artist when you can get up there. The cliché is, ‘sing through the pain’. That’s very lovely and very Jane Austin but when you’re actually experiencing it, it’s not Pride And Prejudice – it’s the bloody fire-bombing of Dresden! It’s really full-on… but you get to the end of it and it’s like, ‘holy shit, look what we did!’ There was a little bit of back-patting and ‘well done babe’ stuff after it. It was exhausting but also really strengthening. We put so much into the tracks.

“A lot of the stuff, even the instrumental stuff, inspiration comes from Donna in little ways… like when were doing Down Devils Road, I was playing rough mixes back and I didn’t know what to call the bloody thing and Donna started singing over it. She’d start dancing around the place and making up words on the spot. We got to the motif and she sang this line and you can hear the, ‘bah bah bah da bah’, and she sang, ‘I head down devils road’. It was like, ‘shit – great line!’ The song may be re-recorded one day with a vocal… but things like that, a title will come up and that happened a couple of times. Or Donna would sing something… sing a horn line, sort of thing, so little bits like that. We tend to cross-pollinate a little bit in ways that people wouldn’t obviously see, but it’s all part of that, the Greene-house thing. It’s what we do here.”

Graham Greene

While we’re winding down, I wonder why Greene has never signed to a record label or major distributor.

“The ‘cottage industry’ thing is the way to go now, because record companies don’t help unless you’re already moving units. Getting a deal with a record company is like getting a loan from the bank: you’ve got to prove you don’t need it before you get it.

“Even the distribution people now, they’ve taken a different tack: they want money upfront to do stuff for you. We moved some advance sales, which enabled us to actually afford to get the run of CDs done. At the very least we’re in a position where we haven’t lost money and that was the first goal, to recoup our costs and once you do that it’s worth doing.”

Which leads us onto the subject of paying to play – an anathema in Greene’s eyes.

“If you’re a young hopeful, that might be worth it, but when you’re an old hopeless, it’s simply not. I was talking to a guy who was relatively successful in as much as he was making a living and was popular locally. People knew who he was, all that sort of thing. He was telling me about clubs in L.A. where people would go to jam to hopefully get noticed and there would be a big gorilla standing at the side of the stage, and when it was your turn to get up and jam with the house band, you’d be standing there with your guitar and 200 bucks in your hand. Before you could go on stage to jam with the band and hope that there was someone in the audience that was worth impressing, you had to give the gorilla your 200 bucks before you walked on stage.

“The desperation that some of these people must feel to make it, to be willing to prostitute themselves, is a little bit sad because you could have a bunch of winos in the audience. There could be not a single person there worth impressing, but they go to take their chances and the owners and the gorilla make all the money [out of] people’s fear, greed and hope. I would be really disappointed if anyone tried to pull that shit in this country.”

I suggest that it’s an extended version of the stupid television talent quests we’re force-fed (not that we watch them) – ‘prostitution’ is the perfect word for them.

“It is, and it’s gladiatorial prostitution as well. The way that they treat these people that enter the talent shows is like pitbull fighting. The poor people that come on. I remember when the first Australian Idol started. Some girl was told, ‘you could lose some weight,’ and the brouhaha that happened after that [was huge], but the simple truth [in the producer’s opinion] is if you’re fat and ugly – don’t hop in front of the camera. A television producer would probably put it exactly like that. Having had friends that have friends that are on the inside in these shows, you find out how fake they are. The winners are chosen in the first round and everything else is scripted. That’s the fact of it. The Australians follow that thing because they’re American franchises and they have to follow the template.”

An edited version of this interview was first published in X-Press Magazine’s 10 June, 2015 issue

Category: Interviews

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