Grateful Web Interview with Greener Grounds

Article Contributed by Vinh Nguyen | Published on Saturday, August 1, 2015

In and around Denver, swiftly permeating the Denver music scene and festivals is Greener Grounds.  If you have not heard of this young, instrumental group, you will soon -- Greener Grounds is featured as the “Top 5 ARISE Festival Colorado Bands” in The Untz.  Whether you are into jam, rock, trance, funk, dance, electronica, jam-tronica, psychedelic…the fusion of the previous, it doesn’t matter.  Check Greener Grounds’ recent EP release, Photosynthesis.  Grateful Web had a chance to talk to several members of Greener Grounds before their appearance at the much anticipated 2015 ARISE Music Festival.

GW:  I appreciate your time today guys.

Greener Grounds: You as well, thank you.

GW:  When and how did Greener Ground get started?

Roland:  We started officially in January of 2014.  We really started playing a lot of shows at the beginning of this year and near the end of last year.  Everything has been moving quickly.  We’re working as hard as we can, practicing as much as we can, trying to get better at our music and trying to take it as far as we can.

GW: You guys knew each other before the band?

Roland:  Yes, Joe [Joe Shur – Guitar], Mat [Mathew Buelt – Guitar] and I [Roland Hansen – Keys/Synth] went to the same high school together.  We’ve known each other for years.  AJ [AJ Gillman - Drums] we found him on Craigslist.  That worked out perfectly.   Danny [Danny Littler], the bassist, AJ met him when he arrived in Colorado.  Not sure how they met, but AJ bought Danny in, he jammed with us, and it seem to fit.  So, there was Greener Grounds. 

GW:  Greener Grounds started out fast.  You have an EP out there already, Photosynthesis.

Roland:  Yes, that’s right.  Photosynthesis just released earlier this month.  All original, sidetrack EP.  Our first recorded music as a band and we’re really excited about it.  It’s up on iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud, and the hard copies we sell at all our shows.  You can also grab it on our website.

GW:  All five tracks on the EP sound great! 

Greener Grounds: Thanks.

GW:  I like “Trails” [from Photosynthesis EP].  The whole guitar & bass 20 seconds into the track with the rapid drums and disco/synthesizer feel later into the jam.  How did that track come about?

Joe:  I pretty much come up with the concept of all our songs.  And, we’ll collaborate from a riff or a bass of the song that I’ll make up – that’s how we come up with pretty much all our songs.  “Trails” was written abruptly one day in practice.  We just came up with that simple little riff.  Danny came up with the keyboard riff to the intro of the song and we kind of took it to a dancy song from there.

GW:  All your songs you can really move to and dance to them.

Joe:  Yeah, we like to groove it.

GW: [laughing] Greener Grounds is an instrumental band.  In developing songs, is it easier or more difficult without the vocals?

Joe:  I would say it’s almost easier in a sense.  But, it’s also kind of neutral – it really doesn’t have an effect to it because none of us have ever tried singing or writing lyrics.  So, we really don’t know how it would go.  We’re all new to songwriting so we’re putting all the effort into making the harmony and beat for the song.  I feel like we’re seeing through our instruments when we come up with all our different grooves and stuff. 

GW:  You guys played at Sonic Boom this summer.   STS9 played at the same festival.  STS9 is mentioned as one of the band’s influence.  Did you learn anything from them or any takeaways from playing with them in the same festival?

Roland:  Yes, STS9 has definitely been a big influence on everyone in our band in some form or another.  On a festival line-up with them was truly something for us.  We’re playing ARISE Music Festival in a couple of weeks – a lot of great artists too.  And, we play Resonance Music & Arts Festival in September 2015 with a lot of our musical idols as well.

GW:  What can fans expect from Greener Grounds at Arise Music Festival – stuff from your new EP?

Roland:  We’re definitely going to be debuting some new material as well as playing most if not all of the EP.  Arise, we are looking forward to a lot.  The first day before the festival starts is the Permaculture Action Day with the Polish Ambassador.  Three of the five us are going to be up there doing that.  Yeah, we’ll be up there all weekend.  We’re playing Sunday at 7:00 PM on the Starwater People’s Stage.  We also have a press conference with you guys [Grateful Web] on Saturday at 2:00 PM.

GW:  I think the schedule is posted at Arise Music Festival website.

Playing at a music festival, say ARISE, is that different for you guys in terms of experience or preparation versus playing a traditional concert hall, say at the 1up in Denver?

Roland:  We have kind of a different energy when we’re preparing for those sets because the festival sets there are a lot of attention on you.  There’s always a good chance for new exposure to a lot of new people.  The stakes feel a little bit higher.  We’re always just very excited and ready to get out there and do it.

GW:  The stakes are higher because some of your peers are there as well?

Joe:  We say more because a lot of people who haven’t seen us, especially going out of state for festivals, it’s definitely different to see the out-of-state crowds, different crowds and different faces…more people that we don’t know.  Those sets are something we look forward to and they’re going to be really fun. 

GW:  Yeah, like you said – more opportunity for new fans. 

Joe:  Yes.

GW:  You listed some cool bands as influences: Zeppelin, Grateful Dead, The Motet, Disco Biscuits.   Last on that influences list is Lord of the Rings. [laughing] How does Lord of the Rings come into play here?

Greener Grounds: [laughing] That’s because we’re all nerds.  And, we like to get mystical with our music in a sense. 

GW:  Some of your sound is mystical. You're into Environmental activism – what do you guys do with that?

Roland:  Getting involved with different environmental protection agencies, permaculture agencies, and different things like that.  We don’t have any partnership right now but we are on the hunt.  We want to do our part to help this planet and keep the grounds green sort of speak. 

[Members of Greener Grounds will participate in the Permaculture Action Day with the Polish Ambassador:]

GW:  That’s where “Greener” comes from in your band’s name?

Roland:  That was a part of it for me personally.  It’s up to interpretation.  I think for a lot of people it represents brighter/better days, better life and the move in that direction.

Joe:  There’s also a new fresh start for us as a band too.  AJ just came out here from Philly.  Danny not knowing us before hand and now we’re starting a new chapter. 

GW:  Greener Grounds is starting out well from the hype I’ve heard. 

A description of your music reads “psychedelic funk-tronica” – describe that for us. 

AJ:  Our music is a little hard to describe.  I think everybody might have a different opinion.  We take from so many influences and styles that we don’t ever sit on one for too long. I wouldn’t categorize us as anything.  That’s why there so many different bands all falling under the same category as jam bands because it’s hard to put a label on it.  We’re trying to build a unique sound.  We’re trying to sound different.  We’re trying to make our music danceable.  I think the most you can say about us – for me at least – is that we like to play dance music with instruments. 

GW:  What would you say the difference is between you guys and say The Motet or STS9?

Joe:  I wouldn’t say we’re that much different from a band like the Tribe.  Because when you listen to an interview with them, they’re saying the exact same things. That, they don’t put a label on their sound and they’re doing what they like to do.  They’re trying to make people dance.  Motet is a funk band.  We like to have fun on stage which is something you see at their shows.  We like to put smiles on people’s faces – musically.  We’re out there to make people dance, have fun, and feel good playing the music we’re playing. 

GW:  It’s hard it seems to be placed in such and such category.  You guys are so musically diverse and have all sorts of interest.

Joe:  We don’t want to put limitation on ourselves.  If we call ourselves a funk band, we’ll get stuck playing funk.  If we’re a rock band, we’re stuck playing rock song.  Without any category to fall in to, we can literally do whatever we want.  We can start...[moment of lost phone connection] in a hip-hop groove and make it feel good. 

GW:  Yes, exactly.  Well, that’s all from me guys.   On the horizon, Greener Grounds has the Arise Music Festival, some shows in Denver, and the Resonance Music & Arts Festival.

Greener Grounds:  Resonance Music Festival is in Ohio at the end of September 2015, 24th – 26th.  There are some great bands in the line up like Nahko, Perpetual Groove, and big headlining acts yet to be announced.  We got tons of stuff coming up.  We’re going to try to build more shows around Resonance Music & Arts Festival while out there.  We have our local, upcoming headliner at Cervantes August 29th.  We’re really excited about that.  We’re hoping we can get that place completely packed out.

Other than that, we don’t have many places in Denver right now but we have tons of mountain stuff we’re working on.  We have lots of unannounced dates confirmed in the mountains and outside Colorado.  Lot of dates everyone should be on the look out for in the future.  Greener Grounds, we’re really going to be moving this year.

GW:  That’s great.  Facebook is the best spot for your latest show schedule?

Greener Grounds:  Definitely go to our website.  Facebook as well, Soundcloud, Twitter, iTunes, Spotify and pretty much all music and social media platforms. 

GW:  Excellent.  Looking forward to seeing you guys out there.  That’s it for me.  I’ll give you guys the last word.

Greener Grounds:  Just a big thank you.  We love you guys.  We’ll see you at ARISE!

GW:  Thanks Roland, Joe and AJ!