Green River Ordinance is a band from Fort Worth, Texas that have been together for more than twelve years. There sound is a mixture of pop/rock sounds creatively thrown together with country folk sounds. They are currently on the road in support of their latest full length album, Under Fire. Josh Jenkins of Green River Ordinance took the time to talk with us about how the band keep things interesting out on the road, what they have been up to since their last visit to the east coast, and also Josh shared a story about a crazy encounter they had on the road.
Hailey Sager: Will you please introduce yourself and what you do in Green River Ordinance?
Josh Jenkins: My name is Josh Jenkins and I sing and play guitar and piano for Green River Ordinance.
HS: How did Green River Ordinance come together as a band?
JJ: Well, a long time ago! A little over twelve years ago. Jamey and Geoff started the band back in high school - Geoff was actually in middle school when they started. There were a few other members in the band. That was how the band was kinda conceived as a blues/rock band in Fort Worth, Texas. I joined my junior year of high school and Joshua joined shortly after that. And we met Denton in college. So the band had been around since Geoff was 13 and Jamey was 15 and I joined when I was about 15.
HS: What does the name Green River Ordinance mean?
JJ: It was kinda random at first. It was on a street sign in our garage. Actually Jayme and Geoff named the band before I was even in the band. It was on a street sign that read 'Green River Ordinance and Forrest" in their garage. It sounded cool and different and so Green River Ordinance kinda became the name.
HS: GRO has been a band for many years, how do you keep things interesting on the road and not get sick of each other?
JJ: I think it starts with being friends. There's always times when you're around people the majority of the day you definitely need time to get away and recharge. But it starts with us all just initially getting along and learning how to give each other space and be patient and hopefully how to help each other out on the road. If we were out here and weren't friends it would be kind of impossible. That's where it begins. We try to make the best of any situation. And you definitely encounter a lot of different situations when you travel.
HS: Do you guys play any games or write new music while you're out on the road to keep yourselves occupied?
JJ: Actually recently, Joshua and Denton were able to rig up a video game system in the van. There PS3 is in the van and they play Call of Duty or Modern Warfare. They have like a little set up on the second row that's our gaming system. So that's a fun way to pass the time.
HS: That's so fun! You are currently promoting Under Fire on the east coast, it’s been awhile since you’ve been on this coast what have you been up to since your last visit in 2010?
JJ: We've been playing a lot of shows. The majority of our time has been spent touring. We spent so much time writing for the record and recording it. So when we haven't been touring and flying and doing shows we've just kind have been off. We've been off and on since the record released, it's been pretty steady. We made a trip out to the west coast this past summer. Now, we are gearing up to do the whole east coast, and a few fly dates, then we will be off through Christmas.
HS: It's nice that you get a break for the holidays.
JJ:Yeah, you definitely have to space it out. We love doing a few weeks on and a few weeks of. It allows you to kinda keep your sanity while still playing a good amount.
HS: There are always great singer/songwriters out on the road with you, such as Graham Colton and currently Nathan Angelo, how do you decide who to bring out on tour and what is the process you go through to find them?
JJ: I think a lot of it is being fans of other artists. You hope that they'll come out with you. So every tour we get a little bit of list together of who we might want out. Some are new artists to us and some have been friends for quite a while. Like Graham we've known for quite a while. We approach them and hopefully we can bribe them to come out on tour with us.
HS: I was really glad that I finally got to see Nathan so that was awesome that you were together.
JJ: Yeah, he was awesome! We've never done any shows with Nathan we just heard his name in different circles. We have really enjoyed having him out. He can sing his butt off so we really enjoy it.
HS: I loved your collaboration in Orlando!
JJ: Well thank you!
HS: What has been the coolest and/or strangest thing to happen to Green River Ordinance in all of it’s history?
JJ: We had an encounter with a man on a tractor one time. That was about the closest we've ever been to a brawl. I don't remember where we were, I was driving. We had to pull off and turn around. Being a band in a van and trailer, you don't turn around very easily so I had to turn around into his driveway/front yard. He was very upset, so we got cornered on a two-lane road by an old man and a tractor. Almost had to have more than words with him, so that was a strange experience. But coolest experience, was probably getting to open up for earlier on in our career, for Bon Jovi. We've had the opportunity to open up for them a few times before. We got to play with Collective Soul, then Goo Goo Dolls and Switchfoot at Red Rocks which was a dream come true. It's been a lot of fun! We definitely have had more highs than lows which is a huge blessing.
HS: As a band, what is the songwriting process do you all write as a group for the music and the lyrics?
JJ: It just depends, the specific word there is 'process.' It's like I don't think that writing a song just happens one day. I think some songs will start together or sometimes separately. But it is always working it's way out until we record. Even in the studio, you're tweaking things. You'll hear something that you didn't hear initially about a verse or a bridge that needs to be different. We like to take our time, we find that that is the most effective for us. It always kinda starts in different places, but it's always a process until we start to record.
HS: When writing new material, how does the band find the confidence in the song to use it instead of scrapping the material?
JJ: I think you first have to believe you have something to say and share. And then you really just write music that means something to you. I think over time, starting out as an artist you try to be something you're not. It's inevitable to kind of blend your sound with people you're influenced by and mimic songs and such. As time is progressed you get more confident in the material, you find that the most effective songwriting is just honest. What do we have to say that means something to us that we feel people will resonate with and that's important. I think that produces songs that have truth to them and that people want to hear. That's kind of our approach, I don't think we try less and less to be something we're not. We just try to write songs that mean something to us. Sometimes that ends up more like a folky song or more of an aggression pop song. We don't really cage ourselves to any specific format, we just like to do what means something to us, that moves us and compels us.
HS: You mentioned things that influence you as you're writing. Who are some of those influences either personally or as a band?
JJ: It's all over the map. I grew up listening to country music. Denton grew up listening to singer/songwriters like James Taylor and Cat Stevens. Jamey and Geoff grew up a little more richy background listening to blues/rock. And Denton grew up listening to jazz and playing jazz music. Where as Joshua's dad toured with the Beach Boy's, he grew up with the most eclectic pallet of music at his disposal. But it all kind of makes it's way into who and what we are. I think the coolness is that we all don't have the same approach to songs. I think we all come from a different place and that gives our songs some depth. But I mean, artists from probably U2, Tom Petty, James Taylor, Matchbox 20, Tonic, Third Eye Blind, The Eagles, I mean Fleetwood Mac, there's so much out there that you've digested over time that you want to take a little bit from.
HS: I definitely think that's so important and it makes you very eclectic as a band. Were your parents always supportive of your desire to become a full time musician? Do you think they would have raised you differently had they known this was the path you were going to take?
JJ: All of our parents are have been very supportive and we've been blessed with that. They've always been just fans of the band. They've really seen us progress over time, and have seen what we do and why we do it. I don't think it would have been initially possible without their support. They're the ones that really encouraged us when we were at a fork in the road to either continue with our education or see where our music was going to lead. So yes, their support is definitely one of the driving forces in how far we've come.
HS: After your break for the holidays do you have any plans for 2013 and after this tour?
JJ: We'll probably going to go in and record an EP. We just rented a cabin for three days for writing. So we have a few ideas.
HS: Where was the first place you ever heard one of your songs?
JJ: Let me think if I can remember the place. I remember we were playing a radio show and we had just landed and we were driving to the show and we were listening to the station. They had our song on the radio. and that was the first time we heard it.
HS: Do you still get as excited as the first time you heard your song when you hear it now?
JJ: Yeah, it's always exciting to hear your song either on a TV show or the radio, anything. It's always flattering and pretty surreal.
HS: Is there anything else you would like to share with your fans and listeners here at Musiqtone?
JJ: We realize that we wouldn't be able to do what we do without the fans and people supporting music, supporting live music it's just so important to us and the appreciation!
HS: Thanks for taking the time out to talk to us at Musiqtone!
JJ: Thank you very much for taking the time to do the interview. Have a great day.
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