Interview with Green
aka Mel from The Greenmatics
You wont hear this music anywhere, not unless you have your ears glued to the radio! The Greenmatics, already known around the music circuit,currently making their presence known on a much broader scale with songs like Wait No More, Talk and the ever popular track, She Fell So Well. Up beat and excited, The Greenmatics take their blend of New wave, mix it up with todays synthesized sound and set it loose! Thank God for modern technology!
FSM: How would you describe your sound for new listeners?
G: Really, really fun live electro/pop/new wave, its extremely catchy and it gets stuck in your head, but not in an annoying way.
FSM: When did you form your band, and where do you all hail from?
G: Back in 2003 in a small City called Christchurch (New Zealand) I had the crazy idea of starting my own band instead of having to rely on joining other bands that always fall to pieces. I had to come up with the whole concept myself and all I knew was that I wanted people to dance to the music and I wanted to have lots of fun and see the world.
So I made a few lo-fi-electro tunes on my laptop (which I bought with some money I had made from a very safe clinical drug trial), to my surprise they got played on the radio in NZ, then after moving up to Auckland to find band members we got nominated for Most Promising New Act in The 2005 bNet Music Awards, we finished a huge NZ tour, got videos on Nationwide TV, one song even made it to #27 in the New Zealand Top 100 Alternative Charts for the whole of 2005, the song was the highest self release! Then I got bored of NZ and moved over to Australia to start again with a new lineup. Ant (plays the very awesome 80s Roland electronic drum kit) is Lithuanian and Tippa (bass) is Greek, our previous bassist Gordo is English, hes our sound guy now and weve all made lovely Melbourne our home.
FSM: What is your music background and how did you all meet?
G: Thankfully my mum forced me to take classical piano lessons from a very young age for many, many years which I didnt really like all that much at the time, but now Im incredibly grateful that she had done that because the knowledge helps with the song writing process and I can also understand what Ant is talking about most of the time - he has a degree in music technology, so does Gordo actually. Oh and I cant leave out my beloved musicals, I was exposed to loads of musicals as a child and grew up singing along to Christine in Phantom of the Opera and Florence in Chess, I always try to go and see musicals when theyre playing in Melbourne.
The story about how I found Ant for the band is the most amusing. When I eventually moved over here from New Zealand, I had put an adup around the streets in the Fitzroy area of Melbourne which said electro pop backing band wanted, the only person to reply to the ad was Ant and it took him about a month to email me about it because he had lost the little pull off email address from the ad . I made them too tiny, bad mistake . probably why only 1 person replied but at least it was the right person! I found Tippa on melband.com.au and had found Gordo through an ad in Beat Magazine.
FSM: Is there any story behind the name The Greenmatics?
G: Yes there is, its a rather long one, but long story short is that I used to work as a photographer and band co-ordinator for some music publications back in NZ, I had decided to leave and just concentrate on music full time, so they did an interview with me and I needed a band name asap . unfortunately I didnt come up with a very electro sounding name and chose Emerald Green.
The name never fitted the music, so I spent a good year writing down about 1000 or so words that could be used in the new name. Eventually I settled on The to make it sound more like a band name, then kept Green so people may realize that we used to be Emerald Green and lastly I added Matics because it had an electro feel to it. After all that effort Im pleased to say that I LOVE the band name so much :)
FSM: Please share with our FSM readers any previous music connections or bands.
G: Theres a band from Christchurch called Shocking Pinks, I was the first vocalist in that band and theyre now signed to DFA. Ant has been in a few bands, one was an old Melbourne electro/new wave band called Zah Zah Zah and Tippa sometimes plays in Melbourne band Jeff Marni.
FSM: Where have you traveled to promote your music and has it opened other doors?
G: The band in various forms has toured all around NZ and the East Coast of Australia. On the Australian Tour we met with the head of Silver Sneaker Records and they now release some of our remixes, plus theyve done some of the remixes themselves. We met with the girls from my songcast.com in Sydney and they helped out with support bands for our tour. Pretty much every gig we play has opened doors or enabled us to network with people who do various things in the music industry.
FSM: Share some of your musical influences/inspirations?
G: We love the dancey synth pop sound of the 80s from bands like Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, Duran Duran, Human League, Joy Division/New Order etc. We also like what The Presets, Justice, Ladytron, Cut Copy, Crystal Castles and Minuit (to name just a few) are doing. So we basically took the 80s sound that we love but took a more modern approach, gave it a more doof doof kind of a feel and voila, thats The Greenmatics. Our live show is way more doof doof than the tracks you can hear on myspace.com/thegreenmatics, youd have to come along sometime so you can see what I mean.
FSM: Do you collaborate on lyrics? Who is more likely to do the composing?
G: Ahhh people beware, I get my lyrics from conversations I have with random people, or from things I see or read. Everything has possible lyrical content and it doesnt have to make sense. Drunk people say amusing things, so I try to hangout with drunken people as much as possible (haha). Reading the dictionary gives me a lot of ideas too. I always write lyrics on the back of receipts and they all end up in a big bag, then I stick my hand in and pull out a few random pieces of paper and make a song out of them. Probably about 99.9% of the lyrics are by me.
FSM: She Fell So Well, Wait no More, Talk-Do these songs represent anything in particular? Perhaps sharing a common theme?
G: Actually no, theyre just lyrics from random conversations (see answer to previous question). I never set out to write about a particular topic like relationships for example, infact I try not to write about that because so many songs are all about love and I just want to do something different, more light hearted and fun.
The line She Fell So Well came about when we saw a woman carrying a glass of red wine and she tripped up but managed to catch herself, so we said that she fell so well. She fell so well, didnt break the red (wine), falling so well just to get ahead, she fell so well, thats the chorus in the latest single. Actually I should admit that a couple of songs were influenced by certain people, but I do usually tell them about it.
FSM: The Greenmatics are not new to stage performance, is there any event that stands out from the rest?
G: We played at Revolver in Melbourne and Brian from Pseudo Echo saw us play, then before we knew it we were supporting them a couple of months later! Our drummer Ant was especially excited about playing with them and was able to cross it off his list of things to do in his lifetime. Were now working with Brian, the vocalist from Pseudo Echo, hes producing our tracks and theyre sounding very big. Because of the work with Brian, weve had more radio play and dont get me wrong, we were extremely happy with the amount of radio play we had before, but now theres even more and its pretty much exceeded all our expectations.
Were not in the band to make money or get well known, we just love playing gigs and are happy with the success weve had, but our main goal is to be happy, have fun and play lots of gigs around the world, but we do also treat it like a business so that maybe one day we can make a living off it and not have to keep up the day jobs.
FSM: Is there any preferred venue when it comes to performing live?
G: Revolver in Melbourne is terrific. The Sidney Myer Music Bowl is also great because the engineers we had were so professional and got us a great sound for outdoors. Roxanne Parlour in Melbourne, oh and East Brunswick Club, they won awards because the venue is so amazing!
I also loved playing at Sol Bar in Coollum (QLD) and Step Inn (QLD), plus Lansdowne Hotel in Sydney had a great vibe because 100s and 100s of students from the Uni across the road came to watch on the night we played and they were all in costumes, a couple of drunken students got up onstage and tried to join in but they were pulled of very quickly by security, ahhh tour memories.
FSM: How would you define the word success? Are there any downsides?
G: I guess it depends on what a persons goals are . some may have unreachable goals and others may have more realistic goals that are achievable and when they reach their goal theyre successful to themselves but maybe not to others. Having goals in life is so important because it gives you something to concentrate on and to work towards . otherwise you can go slightly mental!
FSM: In your own opinion, judging the amount of attention certain high profiled celebrities receive, when is enough, enough?
G: In Australia were lucky, we can see famous Aussies doing their groceries, walking the dog and just doing normal things and they can do that here. But overseas things seem to have been blown way out of proportion, I cant see how people would strive to be famous when they see how people like Brittany Spears cant even leave the house without an army of paparazzi following her, I mean what kind of life would that be?? People taking photos of you every time you go to the shop because you had a craving for pizza and then the next day there will be photos plastered all over the gossip magazines saying that youre pigging out.
FSM: You have a new album coming soon, what can we expect to hear and isthis under the same label? Any other exciting projects lined up?
G: Hmmmmm, the album
will be out this year but I dont know when. Unfortunately I usually
work at night, Tippa works during the day and Ant can work either day
. so its pretty hard to get together and actually
spend quality time recording. If we didnt have to pay rent, bills
and buy food then wed be able to record it in no time at all
but we do pay rent and do have to eat
FSM: Any final words for FSM readers?
Full name and role in band: Mel Smith aka 'Green'. I play Novatron the synth and do vocals.
How did the band form? I understand you're all from different parts of the world?
Well The Greenmatics came about in Christchurch, New Zealand after I departed ways with Shocking Pinks (now signed to DFA). I had so much musical energy in me that I'd been wanting to get out for years, but I'd been relying on joining an established band. I discovered that it's sometimes easier to start from scratch and be my own boss! So I started writing songs on my laptop, they were very low-fi but the bNet Music stations around NZ were extremely supportive. All of a sudden, things really took off and the band got nominated for 'Most Promising New Act' in the 2005 bNet Music Awards, the singles got to #1 on bNet Stations, our videos were on TV and everything! Things were happening really fast, but I really felt that I needed the right lineup to be complete. After moving from Christchurch to Auckland, I decided to sell all my belongings and move to Melbourne. I had to start from scratch again here, but it was worth it because I found Gordo through Beat Magazine (a Melbourne street-press). His email reply to the ad was crazy because he's a crazy English guy if ya knoooo wot I mean . And I found Ant (he's Lithuanian) with one of those ads with little pull off email addresses. It was very tiny and got lost in his wallet but he eventually found it and emailed me - he was also the only one to respond to the ad!
So began the musical journey of Green, Gordo & Ant.
Tell me about the latest recording Out of Limbo What were some of the main ideas or inspirations behind it?
Of Limbo' was released last year, the first track 'I Love Technology'
has just been reproduced by Brian Canham from Pseudo Echo. We played with
them late last year in Melbourne; he liked what we were doing and was
keen to work with us. The EP was titled 'Out Of Limbo' because it felt
like I was living in limbo: nowhere felt like home, I couldn't find the
right band members, I'd done as much as I could alone and now I needed
to share the responsibility with a band. Gordo (bass) and Ant (electronic
drumkit) are the most fun, awesome, talented, crazy people I've ever had
the honour of meeting. The musical creativity and production levels they've
bought to the band were really what The Greenmatics were missing. They're
also incredibly fun guys to hangout with and I wouldn't want to be doing
the band thing with anybody else. Awwwwww
are you guys looking forward to your east coast tour of Australia? Anything
you're really looking forward to or dreading?
what can fans expect at your shows? Anything super special?
Adult Diapers, are you with or against?
You claim to love technology but TV, Internet or IPod, which can you not
Oh yeah! Ahhh! You're gonna wake up one morning as the sun greets the
dawn. You're gonna look around in your mind girl, you're ognna find that
i'm gone -You're Gonna Miss Me by 13th Floor Elevators - (Gordo)
Ever stuck your finger(s) in somewhere where you shouldn't have?
Interview with Arcady Magazine
#003 - 18/05/2007
nu-rave filters down to the metro/Chapel St/undesirable end of popular
culture spectrum, a new electro pop group with proper influences from
the 80s are starting to emerge from Melbourne.
Over a year ago, The Greenmatics were a New Zealand band which had four singles reaching the number 1 in various Top 10 radio countdowns. The core member of The Greenmatics, Mel Green, has now moved to Melbourne and after a few line up changes, she's settled down with the current members to release a new upcoming EP, Out of Limbo.
The current line-up consists of Green, Gordo and Ant, hailing from New Zealand, UK and Lithuania, respectively. I guess a more fitting name for them would be Expatriate but, I guess that was taken
The recording processes of the new EP have differed from the past, We re-recorded some tracks recently at Ant's studio. I recorded stuff before really badly on my laptop, I didn't know what I was doing, Mel explains.
The sound itself has changed, we made the songs our own. Doron (past member) made it sound rocky/indie; we made it more electro again. And it's REAL. Because we've got real drums! It sounds more live Gordo pipes up. And they're having fun mucking around with this new electronic drum kit it seems, Ant laughs, It's REALLY cool and mimics the sound of an electronic drum.
As the interview nears an end, Mel takes out carrot sticks to eat from her handbag offering me one. Conversation quickly switches from their upcoming EP to what exactly lies within Mel's handbag. As the boys starts questioning, she holds it possessively to her body making us more curious. Oh you know, girls' stuff! Mel defends herself. We found out shortly after, that girls' stuff means lipstick, band aids and condoms? But personal life aside, the three members forms a solid group, always joking around and bouncing off each other's ideas.
So move over nu-rave, the REAL electro pop is back and here to stay.
Catch The Greenmatics at their EP launch on June 16th at Blue Tile Lounge.
Interview for Indie Initiative
1. Can you please give us your name, name of your band and instrument you play?
- We're 'The Greenmatics', I do vocals & play an injured Korg Prophecy.
- Electro synth dance pop FUN
- Gordo and Ant, because they're awesome.
- The 5th Element, because it's crazy, fun, colourful and unique.
What are the band's plans for the immediate future?
10. Favourite hangover cure.
- Travel sickness pills, they stop the nausea. Also lots of water and