Geoff Ice, bassist of Green River Ordinance answered a few questions about the band’s most recent independent release ‘Under Fire’ and releasing music in the digital age. You can still grab a collection of Green River Ordinance songs, including the newest single “Heart of Me”, on the band’s NoiseTrade page.
Now that ‘Under Fire’ has been out for a few months, I was wondering how you felt about it in hindsight?
I still feel that ‘Under Fire’ to me is the most complete body of music that we have ever done as a band. Usually by this point in a record cycle, after playing so many of the songs live, it is easy to look back and realize changes you wish you could have made to the record. Playing music in a band is a great medium to explore art with a group of friends, and as a result that music as art is constantly changing. When I look back at ‘Under Fire’ I have no regrets on the decisions we made artistically with the recording or the song writing, and I still wouldn’t change a thing. However, our live show is always a place where we get to put a twist on new and old songs.
Which songs have people responded the most?
I think it has been fascinating hearing peoples opinions on their favorite songs from the record, and it is always not quite what we expected. We wanted this record to be a cohesive body of art, but at the same time we wanted to release ourselves from the binding chains of genre. Obviously the songs that got the biggest response from our fans are our Pop Rock songs, because that is why they enjoy our music. Our Current single “Heart of Me” is still in the Top 40 of the Hot AC music chart. However we have found that of our fans enjoy other genres of music as well and are able to relate to other songs on the record that were a bit left of center. The songs Dancing Shoes and Lost in the World are both examples of heavily Folk/Country influenced songs that would have never fit on our previous release with Capitol Records, but they have both been very well received. “Dancing Shoes” even made it to #6 on the Texas Country Music Chart. People have also responded very well to our song “Resting Hour” live, and they were most likely unaware that they enjoyed gospel music.
This is your first independent release, how has it gone in that regard? What have you taken away from the experience of putting an album out there on your own?
This is our first Independent full LP release. We actually independently released an acoustic EP called the ‘Morning Passengers’ shortly after we parted ways with capitol, and its success inspired us to take a chance and release a full length album on our own. Releasing an album independently has been very hard and difficult, but it has been incredibly rewarding.
We have always been a very hands on band since we started 12ish years ago, and our management really stepped up to the plate and basically became our record label. It was amazing having Capitol’s resources available to promote the record, and they really set the bar high when it fell on our shoulders to take back that responsibility. It’s has been incredibly rewarding to see the album’s success and to know that it was the product of our fans support and our hard work. We have really learned that you constantly have to pay your dues and never forget where you have come from. It would have been impossible to put out this album independently if we didn’t have such amazing supportive fans. It is just so humbling to know that we have a job and have gotten this second chance because of our fans.
From the band’s experience should more established bands be going independent? Or is it still a conditional type of thing?
I think the question of whether not a band should go independent really depends on the band and its members. With a record label you have a lot of help and money being used to find ways to connect a band with new listeners, and with out a record label it really falls on your own shoulders to get your music out into people’s hands. We have gotten lots of advice over the years, and the wise sage Ken Block from Sister Hazel once lectured us on the importance of encouraging the individual strengths of each band member. Going independent means we each have different responsibilities and we each actually enjoy doing whatever we can to promote and grow Green River Ordinance. Being independent makes sense for us because we are hardly the unapproachable introverted artists. We love meeting people, and we have a passion to bring people together and build community through music. I do not say this to knock any artist that go the record label route, because there are many great labels, but we personally just love a hands on approach to our business.
Personally, what do you think music is worth? How much should a song cost, how much should a digital album cost?
This is a bit of a tough question, because we now live in a world where it is easier to pull up a song on Youtube and play it for free on your iPhone than it is is to search for it on iTunes and take the time to type in your password to buy it for a measly 99 cents. At the same time I can go to the thrift store by my house and buy old vinyl records for 50 cents or a quarter. Our culture seems to love music and can’t get enough of it, but we view music as something that is cheap and disposable. When we made ‘Under Fire’ we wanted to sell all 15 songs for 10 bucks. Songs get completely overlooked because we now have the option to only buy a single, and with that mentality we felt like it was a huge bargain to get the whole record for 10 bucks, at 66 cents a song. We wanted to encourage people to buy the whole album and experience the record and the flow of song to song. We took a lot of time to plan how the record should flow and we felt like each song complements those around it. I find it sad that people might miss out on that we work we did, because the didn’t want to pay the full price.
Someone walks up to you at a show and says he loves the new album and mentions he downloaded it illegally, what’s your [first] reaction to that?
My first reaction is thank him for coming to the show. My next reaction to get them to buy a T Shirt. Let’s face the facts here, Apple is not taking 30% of gross from our merch sales, and the guy just bought a ticket. Hopefully he enjoyed the show and is now a real fan. Getting people the music is the first step, but making them a real fan is the tough part.
What’s next and on the horizon for the band?
We are currently on tour. We just finished up a few weeks of Texas shows and we are currently driving to Florida via Louisiana. We are already writing and planning out another acoustic EP to be hopefully released in the spring of 2013.
Tyler Hayes runs the music discovery site NBT.FM