RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW AUSTRALIAN BAND GREENHOUSE
Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
Music and making music is the only thing that has ever felt right to me. Singing has always been the way I feel most comfortable communicating thoughts and emotions. I’m also at my most attuned and connected when listening to music as well I guess. Like it is an emotional language I more easily communicate with and am more receptive to. Somehow more true for me. I took my first guitar away with me to Denmark for a year when I was a teenager and it was there I found myself in my first band. I was a teenager in Scandinavia, in a band. Like a holy trinity. I’d found my fit. That feeling is unmatched. I studied, acting and dance-theatre. I’ve worked in the theatre, with dance and in film and TV. There, music is a part of those art forms but it’s ancillary, y’know? Somehow part of the manipulation of audience response to the story but not the whole story. Nothing does it for me like music. It’s the thing for me. I feel like a whole story when I’m making music.
Introduce us you / all to the members and your musical history?
I’m Michael… vocalist, songwriter and guitarist with greenhouse…
I returned from Denmark to go to University in Australia and instantly found myself in another band and hanging with like minded musicians. I met Jon, Dean and Glen around the Barwon Club in Geelong. By the time we met, we had all been playing in different groups around town and we felt an affinity with each other’s tastes. Greenhouse was born of two other groups. The famous Five and The Scarabs. Both guitar bands. One poppier than the other. One more esoteric. We thought we could marry those sensibilities and see what happened. Dean is a guitar player who became a bassist and brings an unexpected melodic vibe to what he plays in the bottom end. Jonny is a fairly reserved guy but a natural and super expressive musician. His guitar strapped on, he becomes instantly extroverted. Alex is a bit younger than the rest of us and probably a bit more adventurous in his musical experimentations, but it gels really well, the way he plays. We lost our drummer, Glen recently, to an aggressive illness and we miss him to bits. Nik Hughes from Bush helped us out playing drums on the record and we met Craig who drummed for the Earthmen previously and we’ve welcomed him into the fold. Lisa I’ve known since she was fourteen. She acquired her early musical training attending every sort of gig that was in town on any given weekend while underage. Soaking it all in to play it all out. Lisa plays in a cool band, USER, and is joining us live to play some keys.
The music industry is the hardest industry in the world to progress in, How do you feel you are doing?
We’re doin ok, we’re doing ok….look,I think it’s really hard to tell how you are doing industry wise, y’know? Do you measure how you’re progressing by measuring physical unit sales, live audience numbers or social media popularity? Streams or downloads? Radio Airplay or being added to curated playlists? Probably everything right…? That’s the industry…It’s so fragmented but broad. A lot of groups now manage to be successful outside of the ‘industry’ by staying independent , controlling and directing their own careers. Niching down to make things manageable. To be able to operate at an industrial level, you have to join the big machine or build a smaller one yourself… and be able to drive it. We are still very much at a learning to drive stage. A dedicated local fan base that we are growing and a debut album to release early next year. With a bit of luck and hard work, the new single god-like will help oil our little machine and accelerate our progress on all fronts.
We set up RGM USA and many other countries in the world (Now Including RGM Australia) to share music with America and the UK, good idea?
Yes. For an artist to develop a career of any sort these days, exposure is the key. Being able to meet and have access to an international audience creates the reach and numbers required to sustain that career. Twenty true fans in your home town won’t keep you afloat, but twenty in each major city or town across the UK and UK sure would! It’s awesome to be able to share what we do with audiences that otherwise would
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories?
Why are you really asking me that? Who will you really share the information with and why should I believe you?
Lets share the love, what bands are doing really well in your Town / City?
Geelong and Ballarat are absolutely teaming with amazing bands and it’s a pretty collegiate scene. Venues like Volta and The Eastern in Ballarat and The Barwon Club in Geelong are like campuses for hanging out, learning and sharing. An Awesome and supportive scene that spawned bands like King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Bananagun, The Orb, Magic Dirt, Parsnip, and the Murlochs from Geelong and sensational acts like Freya Josephine Hollick, The Second Sex and Bel Air from Ballarat. At the moment I’m into a few Melbourne bands too: Divers and Olympic White are great energetic and rockin bands! On the darker more esoteric side there’s USER, The Black Heart Death Cult and Blackchords. Shout outs to all of ‘em!!
What advice would you give other artists starting out?
Do what you do and stick at it. Work hard with what you got. You are the thing that makes you special. Pretending never works. You only have to be open and honest enough to accept the truth of who or what that is and then go with it. Sounds easy but it’s so hard.
Did you buy anything you don’t need in the pandemic?
I bought a second-hand brown leather jacket online that I had no need for whatsoever. It neither fits nor would look any good anyway even if it did. It’s horrid. For the life of me, I don’t know what possessed me…Wanna buy a cool jacket?
What was the worst experience on stage?
I guess it was on a stage…
We were doing a live radio broadcast that was going out nationally. We rehearsed and rehearsed and when we went live it went really well. Really well until the last tune where I blanked on a lyric in the first verse. How could I!? I knew it backward!! I mumbled through and recovered but with a frustrated expression through the next few lines. Uuuuurrrgghh. I couldn’t believe it! I still flush with embarrassment whenever I think of it.
Tell us something about you / each member that you think people would be surprised about.
I’m really handy with a chainsaw. I learned how to fall dangerous trees and direct their trajectories to avoid damage. I’m a volunteer fire fighter with the Country Fire Authority.
If you had to describe your band/music to an alien how would you describe it?
Our musiccharges body and mind with an inexplicable electrical energy. It creates an aura around you that floats and stretches away from your head and body relative to the harmonics created by the vibrations of the sounds you feel. This aura however, is held in constant relationship to your body by an equal rhythmic force that pushes back just enough to stop your essence escaping completely, but allowing it to commingle with other auras facilitating the experience of a greater connection to the hearts and minds of others and to the universe at large. Well, that’s my description of what I hope it to be…pass me another mushroom, please.
What makes you stand out as a band?
I think the layers of melody tend to set us apart. There’s very little affectation in what we do. It’s all about the songs. Just melody and poetic power, driven with grace to create epic, euphoric moments of connection….ooooh. How’s that? Now I’m all self conscious and I’m shrinking. I shouldn’t be ashamed to express big feelings in a big way, I know. Deep breath. 1, 2, 3, Ah. Better again. We tend to stand out because we are not afraid of the anthemic.
I hear you have new music, what can you tell us about it.
Brand new single, GOD-LIKE releases OCT 7 on all platforms.
It’s the first single out front of our debut album slated for late January 2023.
Ten cuts in all. We are planning on releasing a couple more singles in front of the album before it drops. All the cuts on the album have an epic or anthemic feel. The sound is large, lush, and epic at times. It’s driven and draws from a lot of 90s and post-punk influences such as Chameleons, The Icicle Works, The Cure, Cocteau Twins, Stone Roses, Ride, The Charlatans, Underground Lovers, and My Bloody Valentine.
The album is called Centre Of The Universe and talks to the essence of who we are and what that actually means in the world. There’s a lot of introspection and exploration of guilt and its effects on ourselves and others. It’s a heavily layered record that strives for beauty. It’s full of festival sized bangers and begs for a singalong connection. I think people will be surprised with the scale we’ve been able to achieve on the album, but they’ll have to wait til early 2023 for that and in the meantime, they can satisfy their curiosity with the new single god-like and the few little Easter eggs we’ve scattered around.
Talk me through the thought process of the new tunes.
‘god-like’ expresses a need to recognise fallibility before its too late… before you become a fool or a total arsehole. All too often the full-on rush of reckless youth or a position of power carries us away from responsibilities and adequate care in our actions. The consequences can be immediate or they may haunt you for a long time after. There is a lot of guilt and self-deprecation in this tune… directed at me, as if saying, “get over yourself dickhead, grey isn’t good enough, do better, man!”. At times there are plenty who pump up my tires…. which I, internally believe to be way too high. I’ve dealt with low self-esteem issues all my life. This tune is a bit like I’m warning myself not to ‘believe the hype’ but at the same time trying to be sensitive to the ‘tire pumpers’ who had their own issues going on. It’s sometimes pretty easy for me to over-value the opinions of others over my own judgments, whether they be negative or positive. It’s horrible and liberating at the same time, to have your self-worth determined by outside influences. I guess I wrestle with that, with myself and with being a good friend to others.
It’s about that conflict, but isn’t everything about conflict?
It’s a cautionary tale…it’s ok to dream and believe but keep it real, man. stay grounded and trust yourself. That’s the personal side of it. It also a political song on a more broad level.
god-like is a nod to the future fall of the oppressive patriarchy.
“The personal is the political, after all”
The ‘pale and grey’ in the lyric is me referring to myself negatively, beating myself up… but it’s also a comment directed at certain white middle-aged males in positions of power who are so retrograde and oppressive, atrociously boring and detrimental to the health of society; who act in effect, as gods, though their actions do not merit our respect. It is all of us who are guilty of enabling them. They seem to never be held to account so they think they are correct in their motives of control. Maybe I’m trying to make sure I never become one. Don’t ever get ahead of yourself, man!
What was the recording process like?
The pandemic put us in a position where we had no choice but for me to record and produce the album. I had previously no intention of producing it but I found I absolutely loved it. It’s opened a whole new creative avenue for me. I’d love to do more producing in the future. The recording of the album was pretty solitary due to the lockdowns . Me in the forest mostly. Dean in Melbourne. Jonny was able to be at the studio to record guitar parts when he could slip away during his day gig which allowed some travel for work. The guitars were recorded outside in the open. My studio wasn’t designed to house blaring guitar amps and for the sounds we wanted, we needed to wind the VOX AC 30, the Marshall JCM 800 and the Roland JC 120 up to their sweet spots around 2 to 3 O’Clock. LOUD! It’s lucky I don’t have any neighbours but even still, I got some text messages from farmers I knew working kilometers away, enjoying the sounds drifting on the wind. Other than that we all worked in our own caves. I would put together rough mixes of guide tracks that everyone would play over. Essentially overdubbing parts and sending them via email and them laying the stems into a finished track. Hardly ideal, but I think it has worked well….the result doesn’t lack for energy or vibe. I think the record has a really live vibe, which is weird considering. Nik Hughes was awesome. He recorded nine individual drum stems for me, multiple comps and revisions for each tune and delivered every time. Big ups to Nik and the boys for getting a tough job done.
We did use the worldwide lockdowns to our advantage a little by being cheeky enough to approach UK mix engineer Barny Barnicott who would have otherwise never been available to us. He was locked down in Kent with no clients able to come to his studio for sessions. He liked the roughs I sent him and he agreed to mix the whole album. All of a sudden we were getting our debut album mixed by the same guy that mixed the debut albums for Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian, and Coldplay! We mastered it in London with Streaky Gee.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?
For me, I think tightening things up in terms of the arrangements becomes a clearer priority when working on the tunes as a producer. As individual players we sometimes get selfish and focus on our parts but producing requires a broader focus and devotion to the song and the sound as a whole. So arrangements….and the whole, “wow, now I’m a recording engineer …OK….thing” That was s t e e p. I might have pulled it off.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
I think the single is a really good marker of where we are at. It speaks to who we are. When the album comes out I think we’ll feel that it’s finished. We’re really happy with the sound of the record. It’s beautiful and anthemic. It’s thick and has an analogue vibe to it. It stands where it stands. Honest and proud. No, I wouldn’t change anything. I learned a lot.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
God-like is a more upbeat and driven pop song than our previous release, Pray. We are really going for a synergy of beautiful sounds and an anthemic vibe. Hope you love it. Love on ya, Mike.