The Green may best represent the new wave of American reggae that has popped up in the last half decade.
Well, on the charts, at least.
The Hawaiian sextet holds true to the vibe and feel traditional “roots” reggae while mixing in rock, jazz, R&B and soul (along with the sounds of their homeland). Its 2010 debut was named best reggae album of the year on iTunes. It’s sophomore album spent 61 weeks on Billboard’s reggae charts, including four weeks in the No. 1 slot. Its latest “Hawaii 13″ debut No. 1 on the same chart last year (it peaked at 77 on the Billboard 200).
That success has helped cement the band’s popularity on the mainland (though The Green is extremely popular in Hawaii, too. In April, the band opened for Bruno Mars on his sold out three-night stand there). The band stopped in Fresno as part of a six-week West Coast tour and is back on the road for a support spot on Rebelution‘s “Count Me In Summer Tour,” which kicks off next Wednesday.
Here, we chat with guitarist-vocalist Zion Thompson.
Can you talk about the different styles/influences the band pulls from?
We’re a reggae band with many other musical influences other than reggae. We love to add soul, R&B, jazz, rock and even some electronic elements into to our music. We listen to anything and everything, so our songs usually have influences from multiple musical genres. Buffet style. Haha!
We LOVE reggae, though. So when there are elements of reggae in the song, we try and be as authentic as possible with the ‘feel’ of it.
Does the fact the band has done so well on the reggae charts say something about the current state of the genre? Or: Has reggae evolved beyond Bob Marley?
Music, in any form, is a universal language. Maybe the most powerful. There’s something about reggae music especially that brings people together. It’s powerful stuff. I just don’t see any way that this music could possibly stay locked up in one place and not spread out to be enjoyed by the world. Bob Marley is obviously the vehicle for this in most cases. I mean, other than ‘Bad Boys,’ by the legendary Inner Circle, Bob Marley is usually the first thing anyone thinks of when they hear the word reggae.
So, if people all over the world truly appreciate this music and feel that it somehow connects with them personally, of course they’re gonna want to play it! I guess The Green is no different. More so, we identify with it and where it comes from because of similarities in the landscapes where we come from. There’s a connection between island people, no matter where in the world you’re from. We have a lot of the same plants, animals, weather, etc. That’s another reason why reggae has always been huge in Hawaii. It felt familiar right off the bat.
Does the genesis of the band affect the way it goes about writing music? Do each of the members bring specific songs to the table?
The Green has four singers and five songwriters and we’ve never had trouble writing music together. That’s the beauty of it, and it’s such a blessing. Thank god that we all found each other through this music and that we all work together so well. We’re a family and no family is perfectly happy all the time, but at least we know each other well enough to know when to give each other space. Lol!
Was it difficult to get a break on the mainland, after being so popular at home?
We’ve been in the music scene in Hawaii in one form or another for a really long time. We’ve paid a lot of dues and worked really hard. Hawaii has always had our backs and we rep it as best as we can. We know that you have to put in work to achieve success and we approach touring outside of Hawaii with that same attitude. Bottom line, hard work pays off.
Good vibes are crucial too.
Tell us about “Hawaii 13″?
I think it’s our strongest work to date. Sonically, it’s easily the cleanest recording we’ve ever produced. A big step forward from our first albums’ mix. The cool thing about this record was that we traveled to Costa Mesa, stayed in a beach house right across from Huntington Beach pier and recorded it at the Hurley Studios. Staying together in a house for two weeks really made the whole experience special. We usually record on Oahu, driving to the studio every day (if we’re lucky. Haha!) and then we all split up and go to our own homes. This time, we were together every day and night during the process, which brought us so much closer as a unit. I think the music thrived in this environment and allowed us to really focus. It was an awesome experience.