On the surface, Colleen Green’s new album, I Want to Grow Up, seems like a pretty straightforward read. The record — her second for Hardly Art — boasts a bigger, cleaner sound than 2013’s scuzzy self-recorded gem Sock It to Me. It also finds Green trading in her trusty drum machine for a real-live thrasher (Diarrhea Planet’s Casey Weissbuch) and bringing a producer on board for the first time (JEFF the Brotherhood’s Jake Orrall). The resulting songs are catchy, cohesive, and a far cry from the alone-and-stoned bedroom musings of Green’s back catalog. From the looks of it, L.A.’s reigning slacker queen hasn’t just grown up; she’s turned into that crazy-cool adult all the kids want to be.
Or so you think.
A quick perusal of the album’s lyric sheet reveals a whole slew of conflicting emotions bubbling below the surface. “I gotta stop doing things that are bad for me,” Green sing-songs on the bubbly “Things That Are Bad for Me (Part I).” That song’s counterpoint comes with “Things That Are Bad for Me (Part II),” which builds around brutal guitars and lamentations like “I want to get high right now.” Then there’s “Deeper Than Love,” the record’s scary-good and truth-bomb-filled centerpiece. “I’m wondering if I’m even the marrying kind,” Green muses. “How can I give you my life when I know you’re just gonna die?”
Of course, I Want to Grow Up’s onion-like layers only add to its appeal. The album is undoubtedly Green’s most approachable (not to mention tape-hiss-free) creation to date, as well her most resonating. At 30, Green finds herself caught between old habits and new expectations, but rather than shirking her frustrations, she’s channeling them into songs that effectively say what the rest of us are thinking: Does anyone ever really feel like an adult, or are we all just kind of faking it?
This Friday, April 24, Colleen Green plays Funzone with openers Upset, Massenger, and Honey Maid. In anticipation, I phoned up Green to talk Akon, The Breeders, and going hi-fi.
What were some of your big musical memories growing up? As a kid, I loved the Annie soundtrack. My parents had gone to see Sarah Jessica Parker on Broadway as Annie, and they were blown away by it, so they brought home the record. I don’t know why, but I loved it so much. I would sing along to all of the songs. That was my thing. Then growing up, my whole world changed when I was 11 years old and I heard Sublime on the radio for the first time.
What song was it? “What I Got”
How did you come to realize you could write songs? I’ve always written lyrics. Even since I was really, really little I knew I wanted to be a singer. I wrote songs and poems and stuff. I realized I could make music on my own after I started learning how to play guitar. I taught myself how to play some Blink-182 songs, which really just taught me how to play power chords, and I started writing songs.
What got you thinking about working with a producer and a drummer this time out? I knew I wanted it to sound different and that I wanted it to be a big record. There was this initial idea between me and the record label, “What if …?” I had been doing all this lo-fi music, so it was kind of like, “What if we made it in a studio? What if we did something completely different?” It was almost an experiment, but I think it turned out well.
After writing and recording on your own for so long, was it weird to have other people involved in the process? You know, it wasn’t. In the past I definitely would not have been ready to share that with people, but in those days, I didn’t know Casey and Jake as well as I do now. Because it was the two of them, I felt really comfortable. They just get it, and I knew they wouldn’t judge me. I had been sending them demos and stuff with notes like, “I don’t know about this song. The lyrics are fucked up,” and they just totally reassured me. They were all about those songs.
What’s on the tour van playlist currently? Definitely Akon. Lots of rap, actually. Waka Flocka Flame has some great mixtapes to cruise to. Stuff that’s not rock ’n’ roll is good, especially after seeing bands every single night. We drove to a hotel after yesterday’s show, and we were all drunk and stoned, and someone put on The Breeders’ Last Splash, and it was so perfect. It was amazing.
Colleen Green plays at Funzone (226 S. Milpas St.) with Upsets, Honey Maid, and Massenger on Friday, April 24, at 8 p.m. For info, visit sbdiy.org.