Colleen Green: DIY Rocker, Unemployed Stoner
By Art Tavana
Photo Courtesy of Hardly Art
Colleen Green can boast an impressive list of reviews for her second LP, Sock it to Me, out earlier this year. She can also boast of a propensity to roll joints atop copies of Artie Lange's Too Fat to Fish. There's a picture of this online if you look hard enough.
At her apartment in West L.A., just prior to a gig, the DIY singer-songwriter -- known for her power chords and rickety drum machine -- gives a tour. The primary tools in her lo-fi home recording studio include a war-torn MacBook circa 2006, and a retro '80s zebra patterned rug.
Green's guitar is lying by her laptop, and she says she's working on new material, including a cover of Whitney Houston's 'So Emotional." This isn't her typical fare, as she's more influenced by The Ramones and the Descendents. While the folks at her label Hardly Art doesn't want her talking much about her next album, they aren't exactly uptight. "We've done drugs together," Green says.
Another of her hobbies? Designing hand-painted shirts, which she has made for friends, fans, and, you know, the manager of the Ramones. A retro-looking 'Colleen Green 4 Ever' t-shirt hangs from her door. (She'll design one for any fan willing to pay $15, she says. They are "stick figure originals.")
It's all part of her allure as a hardcore DIY artist; she lugs around heavy equipment, and books her own shows at seedy venues. She doesn't have a proper day job and currently lives with her older brother, all of which is by choice. "I've never looked for a job in L.A., work sucks!"
Around 6 pm the rocker, who is originally from Boston, rips a bong load and prepares to hit the road over to the venue where she's playing, Space 15 Twenty. While en route, she leads a stoned sing-along to cuts from Sublime's 40oz. to Freedom.
After walking through the Urban Outfitters connected to the venue and cringing at commercialized hipster wear, she walks into the performance space and immediately feels uncomfortable. Green is out of place: a lanky underdressed beatnik amongst a crowd of Hollywood club dwellers and gym rats. Luckily, guest DJ Jen Clavin -- one of the noise-punk sisters from the band Bleached -- offers a frenetic mix absent of any bro'd-out anthems or cheese. This seems to calm Green down a bit.
See also: Bleached Return to Their Original Shade
Around 10, using a cardboard foot pedal to power her drum machine, Colleen puts on her sunglasses and strums the first chords of the grungy "You're So Cool," from Sock it to Me. She quickly transitions into upbeat songs layered with songbird vocals, doo-wop melodies, and hazy guitars. In the process, she manages to disarm the crowd.
Her speaker-melting cover of the Go-Go's "Vacation," leads to a crowd dance-off and proves to be the winning formula for the night. She seems far less nervous at the end of the set, which she has performed without the assistance of a sound engineer. When she's done, Green escapes into the parking lot to smoke some weed before heading home to watch Dumb and Dumberer.
Colleen Green plays at the L.A. Fort on July 29th