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VISITING ACT ‌ Pat Green: Honky-Tonk Rock Comes to Town

The Texas singer/guitarist speaks

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Pat Green
w/ The Diesel Brothers
Sun. July 16
9 p.m.
$20, $18 (adv.)
Music Farm
32 Ann Street
853-3276

Country singer/songwriter Pat Green is back in town this week in support of a new album titled Cannonball. He spoke with the City Paper from the road:

CITY PAPER: I read that Wave on Wave was an intimate, inward-looking album. Then I just listened to Lucky Ones, and you can tell that one has heavier rock feel. Where is Cannonball in that trajectory?

Pat Green: I just had another kid. That makes two. So my family is growing. A man goes through different stages in his life. I'm in that spot right now. That is what I am creating about and talking about. Where my heart lies and where my loyalties are in the realm and scope of family and how incredibly important that is to me. That is what a majority of the songs are about this time around.

CITY PAPER: How does that changing dynamic mesh with the fact that Lucky Ones was already a little bit more rocky?

Pat Green: I try to create different sounds. Well, I don't, but the musicians around me create different songs. I try to create a different feel to a record. On Lucky Ones, I felt like there was a lotta Stones. For Wave on Wave, there was a lot of vintage rock overtones. On this one, it feels like Counting Crows or Dave Matthews Band or something. It has a kind of hip vibe to it with a country flair, a lot of violins and acoustic elements. To me, this record is a bigger sound.

CITY PAPER: Much of what you talk about in your songs has to do with Robert Earl Keen and Jerry Jeff Walker. Do you feel like you are compromising what you love about country by going harder rock?

Pat Green: It would be like if Picasso only painted one painting. Now I am by no means comparing myself to the ability of Picasso [laughs], but you know, if I didn't get out there and start things that were different from the first record that I made, it would get really boring and we wouldn't have any fans coming out to the shows. So it's my job to still be me and at the same time create stuff that doesn't sound the last record. So no, if you listen to Jerry Jeff and Robert Earl records, they don't sound like their previous records. And I feel like I would be doing more of a disservice to them if I put out the same one than if I continue to grow. Every person who is a creative, who is an artist, wants to see the artists around them continue to be a growing artist.

CITY PAPER: You joke about having sold out the Astrodome twice and have sold hundreds of thousands of CDs.

Pat Green: Millions of CDs!

CITY PAPER: Millions of CDs. How are you handling the fame?

Pat Green: I don't think of it that way. Think of it that I am a very lucky human being to do what I do for a living and what pays my bills is a guitar and a voice box. So it keeps it real to me to try not to go much further than that down the line. If it were much more difficult than what I have doing now I probably wouldn't be doing it anyway.

CITY PAPER: Even though BNA [Green's new label] has several big names, it looks rather intimate. Is that something you were looking for?

Pat Green: I was very fortunate to be put in the BNA group. The people in the ban group seem to be pretty quick movers. I guess what happened with republic is that for whatever reason, I didn't connect with the head of their label. Once that new was worn off, they were ready for me to go and I was ready to go. It was pretty much whoever left the table first. When we started looking for new labels, BNA was the sort of obvious pick because they are the biggest baddest dogs on campus. If you are going to do this for a living, you better have the big dogs on your side.

CITY PAPER: Is it a big dog that lets you do what you want, though?

Pat Green: Absolutely. I couldn't create in the realm of being told what to create at all.

CITY PAPER: I remember the line, when John Wayne and Jesus go off to Hollywood to make videos for MTV. Does it bother you that part of what is helping your amazing success on CMT, on TV and other places that people are seeing you other than places like The Bluenote in Columbia, Missouri.

Pat Green: I don't know how much TV helps what we do at radio and whatever else. I've been on Foxsworthy and Letterman and all those other things, but I think the only things that work for sure, 100 percent every time is getting up on the stage and putting on a show and watching how people react and how they feel once they've see you play your music live.

CITY PAPER: Is there something distinctive that you notice when you come back to the South to do a show?

Pat Green: Just that people are a bit more rowdy, more ready to go. More what fits my personality pretty well.

CITY PAPER: I know you hate being pigeonholed. But if the label stuck that you are a country music singer songwriter from Texas who had has wild success with the college kids, would that bother you?

Pat Green: You know, honestly, I don't care what anybody calls me. I'm a married guy. I got two kids, and I'm the happiest dude you ever met. Unless somebody got a gun to my head, I'm not going to tell a lie. So as far as I care, you could call me polka music if what I do for a living gets you going. You know, I'm a pretty simple fellow. I grew up on a farm, and the stigma -- I just don't care. I want people, when they come to my show, I want them to enjoy themselves. And when they buy my record, I want them to feel like if they are in the care that they might have to put it on cruise control because it might make them speed. That's what gets me going in life. That's what makes me happy.

CITY PAPER: You are doing six tours with the Dave Matthews Band. How did that opportunity come up?

Pat Green: We had two entertainers of the year [Keith Urban and Kenny Chesney, who Green toured with in 2005] and arguably the biggest rock band in the last decade asked us to come out and open up shows for them. If those three bands ask us to open show for them, then we must be doing something okay.

CITY PAPER: Have you gotten a chance to hang out with Dave?

Pat Green: I've hung out with his band guys, but never with Dave.

CITY PAPER: I'm just curious about how that music conversation will be like between the two of you.

Pat Green: I don't know, but I'm excited about that too. I've hung out with some of the other guys, and they are always a lot of fun to hang around. They have their own project going too, so it's kind of a lot of shop talk.

CITY PAPER: As a fan, I know it's the title of an album, what is the song you wished you'd written.

Pat Green: Oh wow.

CITY PAPER: There are suggestions, but if you had to pick one for this day, at this time, in this phase.

Pat Green: This song is a few years old. "Showman's Life" by Buddy Miller. It kind of defines what kind of human being we are that get in buses and travel all around the world. Sometimes we get to sing at the astrodome, but a lot of times we are singing at the coffee shop down the street and there are only five people there. It's a very time distance to put all our faith in, and it can be rather daunting.

CITY PAPER: The last time you spoke with Ballard, our music editor here, you said at that time that country music as a whole was moving in a rock direction.

Pat Green: Yeah, I definitely feel that way and that definitely is the truth. I think basically it's a 10-year sweep. You look at what is hot in rock 'n' roll 10 years ago, typically what is hot in country right now. That is not to say that anybody is behind the curve or anything like that, that's just the way music trends. That's the way clothes trend. If you listen during the '90s, a lot of the music — everything from the Eagles, which was late '70s early '80s — all that kind of stuff came up into country. Sheryl Crow, who was mid-'90s, is now in country. She's got a country song on the radio with Brooks & Dunn. She had a single with Kris Rock that was one country a few years back. I think it's about a 10-year run. And I think that's normal and great. Shoot, there is a lot of music coming out of the nineties that I think was great.

CITY PAPER: No, it wasn't a bad decade at all.

Pat Green: At least we aren't looking back to the '80s with the hair bands, which is what Garth Brooks had to do, which made it really difficult.

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