NewMusicTen In Conversation with Green River Ordinance from Ft. Worth Texas:
SXSW has spoiled me. It means I visit Texas, hang out with tons of bands and leave without seeing a cowboy hat. Truth is, I haven’t even begun to tap into the rich Texas music mine. But I’m beginning with Green River Ordinance. Their album Under Fire surprised then impressed then delighted me. With that it’s a great opportunity to chat with the band about family, Texas as musical inspiration and HTML cats. You’ll see…
NM Ten: First—let’s introduce you to the nice people reading at home—Green River Ordinance is:
Green River Ordinance: Josh Jenkns, lead singer and acoustic guitar player; Denton Hunker, drummer; Joshua Wilkerson, electric guitar and background vocals, Jamey Ice, lead electric guitar; and I am Geoff Ice; I play bass guitar and sing background vocals.
We are a rock and roll band from Fort Worth, Texas. Jamey (my older brother) and I formed the band when I was in middle school and when he was in high school, and we met the other members while they were in high school as well.
And 11 plus years later we are still playing music together all over the country.
NM Ten: Speaking of playing all over the country, how is the tour going…any ongoing practical jokes?
Green River Ordinance: The tour is going fantastic. As of right now the practical joking has consisted of hiding a jar of peanut butter in people’s bags, and jamming Ace of Bass in the middle of the night when people are asleep.
Denton has been pranking our sound engineer Kaleb, by tweeting pictures of him asleep in the van. Follow us on Twitter to see Kaleb’s revenge on Denton.
NM Ten: That’s great! Green River Ordinance is an actual law, isn’t it? Was that the inspiration for the band’s name?
Green River Ordinance:The Green River Ordinance is an actual law prohibiting door to door salesmen from going up to random houses and trying to sell vacuums and random tonics.
We have a very special connection to this law because Joshua Wilkerson actually spent most of his summers going door to door selling EZ bake ovens around the Dallas—Fort Worth area. We also had an old road sign in the garage we practiced in that said Green River Ordinance Enforced, and we thought it looked pretty sweet.
NM Ten: How does being from Texas influence your sound? And what is alternative country anyways?
Green River Ordinance: Being from Texas has a massive influence on our sound. Texas is a very big melting pot of music from Waylon Jennings singing country, to blues musicians like Lead Belly and Stevie Ray Vaughan, to Buddy Holly who helped start rock and roll.
We love all these different types of music and they influence how we write. “Dancing Shoes” is a song that is very much about being in a small town in Texas, going out on Friday night to dance with a significant other and forget about the troubles of the workweek.
Alternative country is a bit of an evolution of country. It has rock and blues influences and has more experimentation with the sounds of the electric guitars and drums.
NM Ten: You left EMI a major label turning to Kickstarter for funds…how did you find that experience?
Green River Ordinance: Our experience with Kickstarter was amazing and exceeded all of expectations. Our fans became our record label. They invested in our band and gave us the opportunity to write and record our new album Under Fire. If we did not have fans supporting us through Kickstarter this album would have never been written.
NM Ten: The band recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. What are some lessons you learned in that decade?
Green River Ordinance: We have learned that it’s important to stay friends. We have learned that we are all pretty selfish and that if we are going to succeed as a band we have to always seek to listen to each other’s opinions and to always fight for what is best for everybody.
GRO is basically a really big family and after 10 years we have had a whole bunch of ups and downs, but we honestly still like each other and have fun hanging out with each other, and that is super important to us.
A mistake we recently made was the purchase of a large trailer that keeps going out on the road and slowing us down, but it is important to roll with the punches and to always be thankful that we are still able to do what we love. Most of our regrets are about overeating too much fast food before a show; fried chicken is never the best way to prepare for a gig.
NM Ten: As experienced professionals what advice would you offer to indie bands in this current climate?
Green River Ordinance: My advice would be to keep at it!
You can always get better and it is important to always challenge your song writing and your live performance. Good music will speak for itself over time. I would also encourage other musicians and indie artists to always take the time to talk to and meet the audience. Being friendly never hurt anyone.
NM Ten: And friendly you are! You like to help the less fortunate, so cool. Can you explain theHopeGROs.com and how that came about?
Green River Ordinance: We want to give back to the community and make an impact with our music.We wanted to come up with a creative way to give people new unreleased music by supporting a charity through TheHopeGROs.com.
Through the website you can buy unreleased songs by us and 100% of the money goes to one of the 5 charities that each member of the band has chosen. You can hear why each of us chose the charity and you can pick to support whichever one you want. We wanted to share these songs and we also wanted to share our passion for each of these charities, so it made perfect sense.
NM Ten: Your album Under Fire is available on NewMusic Ten—which tracks would you suggest people check out to get a sample of the voodoo you do so well?
Green River Ordinance: I would suggest “Heart of Me” or a “Healing Touch” for a more pop side of GRO; “Dancing Shoes” or “San Antone” if you lean in the country/folk direction; “Under Fire” or “Dark Night” if you lean toward the alternative; or just download Love “Laid Down” if you like all of those things.
NM Ten: Anything you want to add? Speak now or forever hold your peace.
Green River Ordinance: Yes I would like to add this ASCII art of a cat:
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ASCII cats, helping others and rock music…this is Green River Ordinance.
Edited by Travis Persaud