GRO Brings Their Latest Record to the West Coast

Wednesday, June 6, 2012 13:13

An Interview with Josh Jenkins of Green River Ordinance

By Casey Pukl

From MTV to VH1 and the top of the Billboard charts, the guys of Green River Ordinance continue to delight fans both old and new. Their alternative country/pop/rock sound leaves listeners humming their catchy tunes for days (seriously, listen to “Dancing Shoes” and tell me it’s not stuck in your psyche).

After ten years together, the band has seen a lot of change. From major label success to branching out on their own, Green River Ordinance has shown that they have what it takes to remain. I had the chance to catch up with lead singer Josh Jenkins and find out about their latest tour, how they raised $40,000 using Kickstarter to fund their latest record, and just how they keep their friendships alive.

CP: I know that you guys just released your latest record, “Under Fire”. It came out in February, and since then you guys have been mega road-warriors! How about you give us a little update about what you guys have been up to!

GRO: Well, let me think. We released the record in February like you said. It’s been a long time in the making. Our last record we made with Capital Records— we walked away from that. So we made a record with Kickstarter, and it’s been quite the journey. We didn’t really pick up with the band for two years. We weren’t really sure what the future held for our band, which is kind of where we needed to be. We left Capital and spent about eight months writing for the record and made “Under Fire.”

It is very exciting to get out and play these songs live. We just did a little east coast tour about a month ago for about five weeks. It was amazing. It was just really cool to get out and see people listening to our songs and it’s always fun to have new material to play. We’ve played a lot of the old stuff for so long that it was exciting to have something new to say and get out and play it! So we did that, and now we’re on our way out to the west coast to play some shows as well. It’s been really fun. So the big thing that’s been happening with us is just getting to get out and play at places we haven’t played in a while and get to play new songs. It feels awesome to come back to cities and see new people who feel different about it. It feels kind of fun.

CP: You guys have one hell of a fan base! If I read correctly, you guys raised what, $40,000 on Kickstarter?

GRO: Yeah, yeah it was crazy!

CP: When you guys left Capital did you think that would happen? Did you think it would turn out this way?

GRO: We didn’t really know. We just knew it was the right decision to leave. We didn’t really know what the future held; we were just really searching for a direction with what we wanted to do. But we felt like it was a very viable option to raise money for a record. And we had some friends who had done it. It really gave us an opportunity to engage the people who get into what we do and who really support us. It kind of exceeded our expectations.

CP: Awesome. Do you guys write your material as a band? Do one or two of you write? How does that work?

GRO: It kind of fluctuates. I think the beauty of being in a band is just finding different personalities and different streams of influence. Its kind of the same mold— like formula for us. It’s a process, like creativity in general. So, some songs start with a bass, or guitar lick, or a verse. It fluctuates, which makes the process exciting and also frustrating cause you never really know you’re going to get to get to an idea. It happens and you just have to be present. It allows for us to have an interesting dynamic.

CP: Sure. Tell me a little bit about your influences. Is there anybody that’s been influencing you lately? Anyone who influenced you when you got your start?

GRO: We grew up on country music, which is very different. I think we’ve drifted over time from this place of being from Texas and coming from a southern influence. I grew up on some country stuff like Merle Haggard, and very singer/songwriter-based stuff like Cat Stevens and James Taylor. I just love that kind of music. I love the art of writing songs. It’s such a great thing to admire in great artists like them. So that’s where I pull from. But we also grew up in the ‘90s. We’re babies of the Matchbox Twenty era of just great songs. So we pull from that as well. And also U2 and stuff like that. I think we all pull from different places, which also makes our music a little more dynamic. Our drummer, Denton, is into jazz, Geoff is more into Radiohead-esque stuff, and Josh and I love middle-of-the-road southern rock and roll. We all find different avenues of influences to change the music in a way. If it was just one person doing it, it would be completely different.

CP: Definitely. You guys have been together for ten years and you’re all still pretty young. You guys started your band in high school, right?

GRO: Yeah [laughs] we did.

CP: You’ve been together for ten of the most intensively, formative and changing years that a person has. How have you guys maintained the peace and kept the band together through all of that?

GRO: I think you just need to be friends first before anything and just really care about each other as people and not just a business. I think when it becomes about a business decision and you don’t consider peoples’ lives, it really can be damaging. We had to learn that the hard way. We approach situations being delicate for how people work. You have to work hard about caring about personal lives outside of just the band. At the end of the day, if we weren’t friends doing this, it would be kind of empty. You spend so much time with each other traveling and playing and just doing great things. And if you’re not friends with the people you’re doing it with, you can’t enjoy it. It’s just kind of empty. So being friends, we value that and work hard for that.

CP: I think that’s awesome. I was watching an interview with you guys a while back when you guys were talking about just hanging out and playing pranks on tour and all sorts of things like that, and that you still hang out when you guys go home. I just thought that was really neat. A lot of bands, once they get off the road, they don’t want to see each other for a while [laughs]. It’s like you go home to your family and I’ll go home to mine.

GRO: [Laughs] Yeah, there are elements of that in a great way. Its very much like, I love you but I need some time not with you. It’s like brothers. All would be fine if we had a couple of days break from being around each other.

CP: Sometimes you need your space.

GRO: Yeah, absolutely.

CP: So what are you guys most looking forward to about coming out to San Diego and playing at Anthology?

GRO: I think just seeing some new faces. It’s always fun to get out and see new songs being translated, and see people responding. It’s cool to see the new people. That’s always very cool. Like the recent east coast trip we did was amazing. We had so many new faces and it’s always humbling to see that happen. Seeing the process of people telling their friends and then coming to the show is always amazing. It’s always really cool. I’m really excited for the west coast!

CP: Well we’re stoked to have you! We’re running some reverse Happy Hour Specials that night, so it’ll be extra fun.

GRO: We’re very much looking forward to it.

Be sure to come on out and enjoy our reverse happy hour specials and some great tunes by GRO tomorrow night! We’ve also got a few of our Anniversary Deal discounts left, so be sure to try and snag them before they’re gone! $10 off first floor dining tickets!

Green River Ordinance on Spotify

WHAT: Green River Ordinance
WHEN: SThursday, June 7, 9:30pm
TICKETS: $10-$18 Buy Tickets
MORE INFO: Artist Profile