If ever a musician deserved to succeed, it’s Andy Green. The ultra-talented multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter does it all.
Just this year so far, the English native — now living in Berlin, Germany — has released more songs than a dozen other bands put together. He has such a strong work ethic, it’s ridiculous.
But … I am probably guessing most readers have never heard of him. This interview will change that.
I have been a fan and a friend of Andy since last fall when he was in a great little band, Blind Pilots, with several friends. The band broke up just after the new year, and Andy has been going it alone ever since.
His new album, “Nobody Lives Without Mistakes,” is a testament to his creative spirit, chock full of 16 songs that he has poured his heart and soul into. He has played, recorded and mixed all parts by himself. The album is a mix of styles and tempos, filled with hooks and thoughtful melodies.
Standouts on the new album are “Pocket Full of Lies” with its dirty bass line and biting lyrics. “Sex & Magazines” rips through a 60s mod sound and “Part of the Process” has a backward sounding intro … hard to describe but cool. “Riddled With Elation” struts to a Silencers-style guitar line.
So, with that in mind, here is my conversation with Andy:
Let’s start with your background … When and how did you start playing guitar (and everything else)?
I was actually a late-ish starter to music. I was a fan of music from the age of like 5, with The Beatles on in the house, but I never picked up a guitar until I was 19 — I was far too busy playing football!
What, or who made you pick up the guitar then?
A few of my friends got a band together and were looking for another member and I joined on bass, playing one string for about three months! Then from the bass, I learned the guitar. The band was called The Shining and yes, I have demos — no one will ever hear them!
Oh wow, that’s cool. Now once you really knew what you were doing, where did you go from there?
I moved from the north of England to London to join another friends’ band. I thought they had potential, so I joined. Six months later, we had a record deal with Universal!
We were called Louie, and we released four singles through Universal. Unfortunately our album which was recorded with Stephen Street (Blur/The Smiths Producer), never saw the light of day, but we did get to play major UK and European festivals and support some huge huge bands, like Kasabian and Echo & The Bunnymen.
Did the band stay together for a while?
Yeah, we were together for six years.
Playing lots of shows? Where did you play, mostly?
Yeah, we played over 300 to 400 shows for sure, mainly around the UK, our own tours, supporting bigger bands etc. Festivals we played were Reading and Leeds Festival, Wireless Festival, Download Festival, Super Bock Festival in Portugal. … too many to mention!
But another record deal never surfaced? Did you own the rights to the recorded one?
No, nobody wanted to touch us after that, a pattern that still continues for myself to this day it seems … no, Universal owned the rights, so they stripped everything we ever did offline –videos and most the live stuff, etc.
That doesn’t seem right at all. But now you have decided to go it solo … Why are you doing it alone instead of trying another band?
Well, I had Blind pilots together and after that failed me, I kinda got sick of the unreliability of others and the inability to get things done or sorted, so I have decided to just make music alone.
As you can tell, I get stuff done, I haven’t played live much, a couple of shows, but I have released 171 songs this year. Some demos, some better quality music, and I’m happy with at least 100 of those songs. I think it’s some output, but it seems releasing music and doing everything you can isn’t enough to get people’s attention. I thought if you were good you get noticed, so I guess maybe I’m not that good? Who knows.
I won’t be releasing anything else for the foreseeable future. I’ve said it before I know, but this time, with only three downloads, it feels humiliating to be honest.
Blind Pilots was disappointing — you had such great songs there — ones that truly could have been hits! I was sad to hear it ended. But, you are one of the busiest musicians I know. That amount of output is unheard of! And, the new album is really, really good! I couldn’t wait to listen to it!
Yeah, I was hoping Blind Pilots would take off, but sadly it wasn’t to be. It’s a shame as Adrian had a great voice and we had a good rapport, and good songs!
I think the new albums really great too, sadly it’s the lowest downloaded album. The last had about 35 — this has had three.
Some of the songs you call bonus tracks are excellent. “Part of the Process,” “Nothing’s Changed” and Riddled with Elation grabbed my ear right away. More than three people need to hear these songs!
Yeah, I try to stay at a certain standard songwriting wise. I don’t think anybody else is doing what I’m doing quality wise. Maybe they have better production and are better singers, but songs to me are more important than anything else. The song, a chorus and the melodies.
Yes, the instrumentation and musical hooks jump at me first. Always, if I’m not sold in the first few notes of a song, I’m not going to be sold. Your songs sell me!
I think the world think the same as you — it has to hit you instantly nowadays. People don’t have the patience for a Pink Floyd eight minute intro anymore sadly!
Lol, the Pink Floyd songs were never my style. I was always up with The Ramones … 1, 2, 3, 4 … let’s go! Right in to the meat of it. Your songs do some of each, which is good too.
Yeah, I love the Ramones The sight of half the world in Ramones T-shirts as a fashion accessories has kinda ruined the myth a little, but I still think they’re amazing, but I also think Jeff Buckley is amazing at the same time, as are Queens Of The Stone Age, also Nick Drake … so there are a billion amazing influences to draw from.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a tiny town called Ulverston, in Cumbria, the north of England. There are about three shops.
Big music scene then, eh?
I had to go via Vespa around 100 miles to buy a CD. 100 miles round trip — pre-Internet days!
Wow. That’s crazy! Mail order probably took forever too!
Yeah absolutely, was quicker to walk.
Haha … When did you move to a larger town?
When I was 24, I moved to London. I’d never even been to London before. I just turned up with a box of CDs and some clothes, and I never went back.
Did you have friends in London?
Only one — the singer from the band Louie. His name was Jordan.
Did you get a regular job or was that when you joined a band?
I got a job in a supermarket, but they accidentally paid me a months wage after two days working there, so I quit! But, the band took off at the same time so I would have left anyway.
That’s funny. Hope they never came calling for those wages!
It’s been 10 years, I think I’m good.
Haha, I hope so! So where do your song ideas spring from?
Different things I guess. Some of the new album is inspired by the current chaos going on in the UK, or how I see it anyway, “Fly Your Flags” is about foolish Brits celebrating for making an idiotic decision — leaving the UK. Other songs come from newspaper articles, some inspired by TV shows (seriously) and some personal.
Oh, fun … What songs were inspired by TV shows?
There’s a song called “Fan The Flames” that came about while watching “Breaking Bad” the line in the song “You stoke the fire, I’ll fan the flames” is about the relationship between Walter White and Jessie.
But I won’t give too much away. All the songs mean something in some way.
That’s neat. How often are you writing? Just when the mood hits or at planned times?
Well, what’s weird is I don’t write in a normal way — well no one I know writes my way — I just go, OK, I’m gonna write an album now, and just sit down and start recording.
So I write all my albums at once. The vocals and singing melodies always come last, so I never sit around the house playing the guitar ever, it bores me.
Have you always written them this way?
Yeah, I get a basic drum loop together for demoing, then get something going on the guitar, then structure it. I add vocals and melodies at the end. I never sit down with a guitar and try to write a song. Nothing ever comes of it. It’s forced.
I remember you had at least one Blind Pilots tune you did that way — “Cry Out (For Help)” … That was so good!
Ah yeah, good little song that.
Yes, I remember you said it was written and recorded right off the cuff.
Yeah, we were at Adrian’s one evening and just wrote it and recorded it then.
Very impressive for being so simple.
Well, I try.
Where are you living now?
I’m still in Germany at the moment, Berlin. It’s hard to see a way back in terms of living in the UK again, as much as a personal struggle as it is for me in Berlin.
Yes, it’s hard to tell how the situation there will pan out, it’s such early days.
A bit like over in the USA, you can see the bad situation coming closer and closer. For you it’s Trump, for the Brits its a guy called Nigel Farage — a huge huge racist, looking to change or relax gun laws in the UK.
I think the whole world is in trouble right now. At least we have good music to listen to — it’s the one thing we can count on!
Yeah, I guess that’s true …
You can find Andy Green on SoundCloud at https://soundcloud.com/andy-green-music.