20 Questions: Greensky Bluegrass
Do we really have to get into bluegrass’ insane popularity in Colorado? Hell, we have full-on music festivals celebrating the genre that paints the mountainscapes with fans all summer long. Out-of-town acts often refer to this area as a second home because they’re here so many times in a band's career. One of those all-time favorites is Greensky Bluegrass, a rock-and-blues act fused with (what else, duh?) bluegrass that’s coming to the Ogden Theatre for two nights Oct. 24 and 25. We sat down with Anders Beck, dobro player for the band, for a sizzling round of 20 Questions.
1. Thank you for taking your time out for us, first things first: How’s life?
Life is great! Thanks for asking. We have a few weeks off after a super-busy summer, which is nice.
2. What was your main goal in creating your new album “If Sorrows Swim”?
While it may sound sort of obvious, the goal was to make a great album. As musicians, the albums we make are our calling cards, and they never fade away, especially in this digital age where nothing ever disappears. I’m very proud of our last album, “Handguns,” and I think we made a great follow up to that one.
3. Why choose recorded to tape, old-school style instead of digital?
It’s a sonic choice that we made. Tape just sounds better. There is a grit to it, which I think matches the sound of our music and songs. There is a lot of darkness in our music, and I think that aspect of our music just translates better to tape than a super-clean digital sound.
4. Has anyone in the band ever had aspirations of becoming a rapper?
Of course! Who hasn’t, really? We’ve been known to bust out a few rap classics. “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Back That Azz Up,” to name a few. You know, the usual bluegrass classics.
5. “If Sorrows Swim” is your first nationally distributed album. What does something like that mean to an artist?
Well, first and foremost, it means that enough people believe in what we are doing to want to distribute it to the masses, so we must be doing something right.
6. What’s the most you’ve played in a single year?
I think we did close to 200 shows a year for a few years. While it was exhausting to play so many shows, it really allowed us to hone our skills as a group. I think we are down to about 150 shows this year — the life of luxury, clearly.
7. How does somebody stay sane traveling so much in a van on the road?
I’m really not sure, honestly. If I find a sane musician, I’ll ask them for you.
8. Has there ever been a time when you didn’t want to be a musician anymore?
No. This is what I’ve always wanted to do, and I recognize that I am extremely lucky to get to do it.
9. Who does (did) it better, Jimmy Fallon, Jay Leno or Johnny Carson?
I love how Fallon works so much music into his shows, so I’d probably have to pick him. He’s freaking hilarious. OK, Jimmy, are you reading this? Can we be on the show now?
10. Write a two-line lyrical stanza for us using the words “plant” and “coupon”:
Poop on the coupon plant, over there by the ducks I’m clearly not Townes Van Zandt, and this song really sucks
11. There will obviously be a lot of new material played at your shows in Denver, but can we expect the oldies as well?
Absolutely! We’re going to play all of your favorite songs.
12. The act is very much formed in a hybrid Americana/rock format. Do you ever feel conflicted about that?
I don’t. It makes total sense to me. Take bluegrass instruments, and rock the f**k out!
13. We’ve seen Greensky Bluegrass described in the media as “newgrass” a few times. If you could create a genre name for your band, what would it be?
I’m not really sure. The more I see people try and pigeonhole what we do into a genre, the more I think that it is impossible. We are ourselves. Our genre is Greensky. We’re not trying to be like anything or trying to be different than anything. We are an amalgamation of all of our musical influences. I love bluegrass, but I also love Phish and Eminem and John Coltrane.
14. Why does Colorado love you guys so dang much?
Colorado was ranked second in the smartest states in America this year. Just sayin’! But seriously, it does feel like a second home. Thanks Colorado!
15. What other parts of the country do you see embrace your genre of music the most?
Hard to say. It’s going really well everywhere. The Northwest and California (with Colorado) certainly caught on a bit earlier than the rest of the country, but the rest of the country is starting to realize we’re pretty cool for a bunch of guys playing bluegrass instruments, too.
16. Does anyone in the band regularly contribute to a 401k plan?
I do. Well, I did for the first time last year. Thanks for asking; my dad would be proud of me.
17. Do you see the younger generations latching on to your sound too?
Absolutely, and it’s awesome. One of the things that I really love about our band is that the music is ageless. Someone recently told me that their little sister loves Greensky, and their mom does too. It freaked them out but made me pretty happy.
18. What’s the most frustrating thing you can think of about the world right now?
The inequality all over the world: race, gender, religion, nationality. It’s shocking that these things are still an issue and a basis of hatred for some people.
19. What’s the most uplifting thing you can think of about the world right now?
Two husky puppies wrestling under a rainbow.
20. What can we expect out of the future of Greensky Bluegrass?
More music, more shows, more songs, MORE! Come on out and see us when we get to Colorado!