Green adds colour to sad songs

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - WHAT’S ON -

DAL­LAS Green was given some ad­vice by an Aus­tralian fan sev­eral years ago when he was tour­ing with his pre­vi­ous mu­sic in­car­na­tion Alex­ison­fire.

The Cana­dian rocker was about to un­veil his singer song­writer al­ter ego City and Colour and the fan re­vealed the clue to win­ning the hearts and minds of loyal Aus­tralian fans.

‘‘I re­mem­ber talk­ing to a kid who ex­plained to me years ago when Alex­ison­fire first came that Aus­tralians are very loyal in the sense that if you come all the way here and play reg­u­larly, they will stick with you,’’ he says.

‘‘The first time I played as City and Colour was here at Sound­wave in 2008 when we were also here with Alex­ison­fire.’’

Like Foo Fight­ers, Ben Harper and his good mate Pink, Green has found a warm, and big­ger, wel­come with each of his 10 trips to Aus­tralia.

His in­ti­mate solo gigs in Syd­ney and Mel­bourne ear­lier this year to launch lat­est record The Hurry And The Harm sold out in sec­onds.

Green didn’t seem to be jok­ing when he sug­gested wait­ing for scalpers out­side those July con­certs with a bat.

‘‘I just hate how they rip kids off. I have a big prob­lem with scalpers,’’ he says.

‘‘They are mak­ing kids pay so much more when all they want is to be able to see a band play. I’ve heard too many sto­ries from them about hav­ing to pay $500. It’s an epi­demic.’’

The Hurry And The Harm indulges Green’s love of the mi­nor key and melan­choly. He ac­knowl­edges they may be the se­ri­ous song­writer’s most revered tools but the sad songs are where he feels com­fort­able. So is melan­choly to rock mu­sic what sex is to pop?

‘‘To cer­tain rock mu­sic, yes, I think that’s a good com­par­i­son. And it de­pends on the voice too. My voice has al­ways felt bet­ter in that wheel­house, that’s what I feel com­fort­able singing,’’ he says.

‘‘Tapping into the mi­nor keys feels like me rather than singing about Fri­day night pick­ing up a girl in a bar. Although I could prob­a­bly write that song. Ac­tu­ally, I think I tried to and it turned into a re­jec­tion song.’’

City and Colour’s grow­ing suc­cess re­lies on real songs about real emo­tions played by real hu­mans.

Green doesn’t talk about rein­vent­ing the wheel. He wouldn’t con­sider mak­ing a ‘genre’ record for purists and prefers to fo­cus on the craft­ing and per­for­mance of a song.

‘‘As a song­writer, I live in the age of ref­er­ence. I have 50 to 60 years of rock ’n roll and blues and coun­try and these dif­fer­ent things to lis­ten to,’’ he says.

‘‘When Son House picked up a gui­tar in the delta, he tuned it to what he thought it should sound like. And then I could lis­ten to Keith Richards’ in­ter­pre­ta­tion of that. I have all these ref­er­ences to pick from.

‘‘So why not? Why not take what you need from it? That’s what I feel is the best part of mu­sic.’’

Grad­u­at­ing to our the­atres for the Hurry and the Harm tour has Green con­tem­plat­ing the science of the setlist. Ge­og­ra­phy can of­ten af­fect a per­for­mance and while he will en­joy the lux­ury of space af­forded by his el­e­va­tion to big­ger venues, the mu­si­cian wants to keep the in­ti­macy which has un­der­lined his shows.

‘‘These kind of places can be great for the mo­ments when it’s just you, your voice and gui­tar, when you try to get that pin-drop si­lence from the au­di­ence,’’ he says.

‘‘It’s the op­po­site of when I used to play with Alex­ison­fire and the goal was to get ev­ery­one mov­ing.’’ Dal­las Green, for­merly of Alex­ison­fire, now plays as City And Colour.

– KATHY McCABE

City And Colour and Twin Forks play The River­stage, in Bris­bane, on November 30.

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