The past year and a half has been pretty intense for The Green. Their self-titled debut album, released in early 2010, catapulted the band from local stars in their native Hawaii to national recognition as one of the most promising young reggae bands flying across the airwaves. Filled with immense riddims and soulful harmonies, their debut captured ears all over the world, and even garnered the attention of Easy Star Records, home of John Brown’s Body, Cas Haley, and, of course, the Easy Star All-Stars. The group recently announced that they have signed with Easy Star Records to release their sophomore album, titled Ways & Means, on Oct. 25th, 2011 and an EP titled Love & Affection, which has been released digitally today!
The partnership, though sudden, is far from surprising. Easy Star Records has been known since the mid 1990’s as a home for quality roots and reggae music. The Green’s music, filled with 4-part harmonies and smoldering dancehall beats, comfortably settles the group next to several other artists who continue to update the classic sounds of Kingston sound systems, some of whom were even inspirations to the young band. “We remember listening to the first Easy Star release when we were just starting out,” says singer-keyboardist Ikaika Antone. “My first band Herbin Riddim even covered the song ‘Delilah’ off Easy Star Volume 1. Easy Star has been a major part of my musical influence and journey, so it’s very exciting to us to be putting out music on the label now.”
The excitement is mutual, says Eric Smith, C.E.O. of Easy Star Records, “There is a special buzz about The Green that we have not seen for a new band in a long time. And once you spend any time with them, you quickly realize that that buzz is legitimate as they have only scratched the surface of their potential. We are excited to have them in the Easy Star camp and to help take them to the next level.”
Singer/guitarist Zion Thompson of The Green was kind enough to field a few questions from the The Pier regarding the new album and the whirlwind of success that has recently enveloped the band.
The Pier: 2010 – 2011 have been huge years for you guys. How has all this success (coming to the mainland, having iTunes declare your album #1 reggae album of 2010) affected you as a band?
The Green: We’ve been fortunate as a fairly new band to have traveled across most of the United States within the last year and a half. These travels have definitely expanded our musical abilities and overall outlook on live performances. The music that we’ve seen and heard out on the road has opened our minds to new possibilities and taken our music to places we’ve never tried before. Meanwhile, at home in Hawaii there’s heavy talent just sponging up everything out there and getting damn good at perfecting it. The musicians we’re surrounded by at home are some of the best we know.
The Pier: Considering how successful your debut was, do you feel like there is any pressure to really raise the bar with your next album?
The Green: Often the sophomore album is referred to as the “make or break”. To us, every album should be better than, or at least complimentary to the last. But yes, naturally there’s a little pressure. Which is a good thing.
The Pier: Are you recording the entirety of the new album in Hawaii? Are you working with a producer or doing everything yourselves?
The Green: The track “Come In” featuring Jacob Hemphill from SOJA is the only song on “Ways & Means” that we didn’t play instruments on. Basically, we recorded Caleb’s vocals in Hawaii, Jacob recorded his vocals, and the actual music was written and produced by Cegrica “Soljie” Hamilton, and performed by other musicians.
The album’s mixing was done by about six different people from the US, Hawaii, and Kingston JA. It was mastered by Jeff Lipton at Peerless Mastering in Boston.
The Pier: How do you want this album to progress compared to your debut?
The Green: “Ways & Means” will have something for everyone, in true Green fashion. What’s different about this album is that we took everything we’ve seen out on the road since we released the first album, mixed it with what we already know, collaborated with some of the best producers we’ve met and created an album that we believe sonically surpasses the first. We are very proud of “Ways & Means”, to say the least.
The Pier: Did you set out to capture a certain vibe or any particular objective with the new album?
The Green: Sure we did, our vibe! Haha! I think the vibe comes from the songs and those songs for us have either lyrically or musically reflected what we’ve experienced recently. Like leaving home for long periods of time to perform. Driving thousands of miles and seeing places not many people get to see. Having families, friends, loved ones and relationships all during that time and taking care of business at home too. Like a portrait in time, right now.
The Pier: During the past year you guys probably got to see a pretty good chunk of most of mainland USA. Were there any surprises or unexpected realizations about the country along the way?
The Green: You know, it’s all surprising and amazing to us! Coming from where we’re from, we trip out on everything we see on tour! It seems like no matter where we go, people are pretty similar, just dealing with things differently. But it’s a small world.
Thank you Zion! Fans, don’t forget, you have until Oct 18th, 2011 to download The Green’s song Love & Affection for FREE download in our exclusive Pacific Island Sampler. You can download the sampler by clicking HERE
Interview by: Chris Castro
[Read Chris Castro’s review of The Green’s Love & Affection EP by clicking HERE]
Photos by: Bill Colbridge and David Norris