Unlocked: What does maturity mean for Anthony Green?
From every angle, it seems pretty great being Anthony Green.
On the night we caught up with him, he had just finished playing a set in his hometown record store, Doylestown’s Siren Records. A hundred or so fans wait around after the show for a meet-and-greet with the solo songwriter and Circa Survive frontman. Many have their brand new copy of Young Legs — Green’s new solo record released Tuesday — clutched in their arms, awaiting the chance to have it marked with the broad brushstrokes of Green’s signature.
He receives plenty of compliments from fans. “I’m from here, so you proved to me that anything is possible,” one kid says after stating that Green is one of his main influences for his own music. And Green doesn’t just take the kind words. “Family doing stuff together is cool,” he says to a young girl and her mom, thanking the mom for bringing the teenager to the show.
He poses for plenty of pictures, gives out handshakes and smiles through it all. Greeting the last of the fans, he hastily tries to gather his things so that he can get home and help his wife Meredith put their two little boys to bed after they also had fun rocking out at daddy’s show.
“On normal nights, we look forward to putting the boys to bed and getting time together more than anything,” Green says of home life between puffs of a cigarette he bums outside of the store before taking off. “When I’m not home and I’m on tour, she’s by herself. She puts the kids to bed and she’s not hanging out with anybody or she just has a couple friends over, it’s different. When I’m on tour and I’ve done a show and they’re not there and I don’t have someone to snuggle with, I don’t have her to snuggle with, it’s a weird feeling. So, she’s going to come out on this tour and I don’t have to worry about missing them.”
He’s a rock star who has it all — a great career, a happy family and enough freedom to serve both of these things, doing things like having his family out on the road with him.
But if it’s so good being Green, why did he draw entirely from outside experiences when writing the 11 tracks featured on Young Legs? It’s simple. For him, walking a mile in someone else’s shoes became a new and much-needed source of inspiration.
“I think for this record, having the songs be inspired by specific events going on in my friends’ and family’s lives kind of gave my subconscious a liberty to go and be more open than I would if I was writing a song about something that [I had] going on,” Green says. “Having someone else’s perspective to draw from sort of allowed my subconscious to sneak in more of myself than I’ve ever put in a song. … It’s more than what I probably would have revealed if I was coming from my own personal experience.”
Green started his solo career with songs he’d written that had been cast off from Circa Survive. The efforts to get that material out there became 2008’s Avalon and 2012’s Beautiful Things. Those records not only spanned genres, they spanned years of Green’s life, and were tied to the periods in time they were written. Recording Young Legs was the first time he’d ever entered the studio with only loose concepts, rather than full songs ready to record.
“There weren’t any road blocks or speed bumps,” Green says of this new writing and recording experience. “We would get to a part that needed something new and we would put it there. If we didn’t get it right away, we would just jam until we got it. There was never like pulling teeth. There was never, ‘Oh, this is so tough, what are we going to do here?’ We always just stayed positive and stayed proactive, and never really stopped to have a moment like that, just kept going.”
What helped Green through the process were the people around him. He’s known Keith Goodwin, frontman for the band Good Old War, since high school. Good Old War also serves as Green’s collaborative back-up band, and Goodwin, drummer Tim Arnold and guitarist Dan Schwartz add “so much,” Green says, by taking on his ideas, filtering them through their own styles, and making every part their own.
“When I sit down and jam on a song with Keith and Good Old War, there’s limitless possibilities on where we can take it and what we can try,” Green says. “We can do anything, and knowing that you can communicate creatively with people who can just see through any idea, it can be overwhelming.”
Producer Will Yip was also integral to the making of Young Legs, Green says, for helping him tear songs apart, try them in different keys and different tempos, and ultimately make all of his loose ideas into exactly what he wanted.
“Will is a great producer, and had so much to do with the sound of this album and the structure of the songs, and making everything just enormous,” Green says.
The sound Green was going for on Young Legs was something he discovered while he and Goodwin were jamming on and upright piano backstage while touring to support his last album. It’s when he discovered how much he loved the timelessness of just piano and vocals, and when he realized he’d never really played around with the combination before.
“I love the way old Sinatra albums sound with the nice crisp drums, laid back, just piano, and I started getting the idea to incorporate that more in the album,” Green says. “I just love the way the vocal and the piano sound. I wanted to make something that felt more mature, less like dirty rock n’ roll and more like dressed-up, big, grown-up music.”
Sinatra isn’t exactly a parallel easily drawn when talking about Green, who still gets down and dirty with Circa Survive like he has been for the past 10 years. But Green is a grown-up. He keeps promises to his wife. He provides for his family. He makes sure they’re all packed for tour before throwing a few outfits in a bag for himself. He wants to quit smoking so that he doesn’t become, “that guy, smoker dad where the kids smell like cigarette smoke,” or end up one day sounding as bad as Bob Dylan does on his Christmas album.
Maturity means appreciating what you have. Anthony Green certainly does that, and takes any opportunity he can to give back.
“This is like my fucking exploration-back-into-the-world record, “ he says. “I want this to be something that’s bigger than getting married or having children. I want this to be a continuation of the celebration of life and worship of music.
“I want to call it the world’s gift to me.”
Young Legs is the featured album in this week’s edition of Unlocked. Download the song “I’ll Miss You” in Monday’s post, read Tuesday’s album review, dig into Green’s Vine channel in yesterday’s post and look for more tomorrow.