Incendiary meets Adam Green – Part Two

I can’t believe there was a time in my life where I used to get up in front of 30,000 people and just dance around. Like, could I ever do that again?

I can’t believe there was a time in my life where I used to get up in front of 30,000 people and just dance around. Like, could I ever do that again?

Incendiary meets Adam Green – Part Two. Confidence, coffeeshops and 30,000 people.


IN: One of the things I really like about your stuff is that it sounds so incredibly confident and brave. I mean there’s so many bands out there that just play it simple but your stuff always seems to be saying, “Well lets take this beat and add a Motown bass line onto here, some strings on top of this and some heavy guitars on here etc etc. Do you have that confidence in yourself to try stuff or does it all come about by accident?


AG: Well I’ve been making music since I was twelve. You know I used to have a gig every Wednesday night at a coffeeshop.


IN: At twelve?


AG: I just went in there with my guitar one day and said, “You know, I’ve been learning to play guitar and listening to a lot of old songs. I’ve been writing some of my own and I want to play in front of people. Could I play a show here?” They used to have people come in every now and then and play Spanish guitar and stuff like that and they said, “Well we don’t have anything that goes on here on a Wednesday night so you can come and play for tips.” So I did that and I think I learned how to play in front of people that way. Just throwing myself out there. It was really nice to learn it when I was young like that because people aren’t so critical of you when you’re twelve and playing guitar. People didn’t, like, treat me badly. So I think that maybe it was good to learn some amount of confidence on stage before people, you know, get really mad at you when you suck.

   But even though people weren’t mistreating me on stage because of my age, I still noticed that there were certain things that I could do that would make them pay a lot more attention and stop talking. I just started developing a way of performing where I was trying to understand, like, how people see me, on stage and how I looked and I learnt a lot of stuff at open mics, just watching the mistakes people would make. Seeing how they would somehow turn people off somehow before even starting playing. They’d do something, they’d say something weird or uncomfortable and they’d show everybody that they were really uncomfortable. Sometimes it would work and sometimes it would be a disaster. Or maybe they would try and be too confident and kick into it right away but people weren’t with them yet and they would come off like they were delusional. Like they thought they were playing to arena or something. And that was weird too, I think you have to know your room. It’s weird when people come into a room of ten people and start acting like they’re freaking Axl Rose. It’s weird.


IN: Is that why you’re so playful with the crowd? Because I’ve seen you a few times now and I always wondered if you were kind of testing the crowd but it sounds like you’re maybe just evaluating them.


AG: I don’t know. I’m always trying to stay conscious, I mean not for me but for everyone, that this is a live show you know and a lot of live shows for me are very unfulfilling because the live element isn’t really acknowledged. You get this idea that, no matter what happens, what’s going to happen is that these songs are going to get played and no matter if the crowd doesn’t like it or does like it, they’re still gonna do those songs and I hate this idea. I really think it’s like…..I always want to remind people that if they don’t want to hear this one, I’m good to do a different one or if they just want to hear me play or just talk I’ll just talk or whatever. I just think it’s like, it’s a live show and people pay money to see that and it’s entertainment and it’s a way to spend an evening so how is it going to be, I don’t know? And I like trying to figure it out with the people.

   Some of my best shows have been ones where I just threw out the set list and we just started doing other things or when people have come up on stage and sang stuff with me or I just involve the crowd more. Or even if I just did some songs by myself or whatever it was I just think that it’s a live show and it’s not the record. So I try to have fun with it because it can get monotonous. I mean, you’re on tour and it’s the same thing every night. You can start to feel like a robot and I hate the feeling of writing out a script to say to people and I don’t want to do that when I play live. I, on purpose, don’t come out on stage with any idea of what I am going to say. I just try and react to the crowd and pretend that I’ve never seen them before or that I’ve played a show before.

   And it’s been really funny to try and apply the idea to really big shows, like I played Rock In Park in Germany to over 30,000 people and I was still doing it in front of them. It’s just funny how that shit works, you know I wasn’t sure how it would go but now I’m thinking, shit more people should do that. It just sucks to be at a festival and feel that the bands are just going through the motions.


IN: Well the first time I saw you was at the Haldern festival a couple of years ago and you came on after Starsailor who, I have to admit, almost forced me to go and slit my wrists, they were terrible. I expected them to come out with a big cross announcing “I am born again” and then you came on afterwards and I was just….well, talk about revitalized completely.


AG: Oh thanks


IN: It was brilliant. Especially because I loved the fact that, everyone was screaming for What a Waster and you played it but messed half the words up and then when everyone started applauding you said, “Why are you applauding?”


AG: Yeah well I was pretty drunk by that point.


IN: But not many people would do that. Most people would just nod politely and say, “Yeah thanks,” but you had a go at them, “Why are you applauding, don’t be so stupid I messed up,” and I loved that.


AG: It’s been really funny talking to like huge seas of people like that. I didn’t really know, because I’m used to playing like coffee houses or bars, pubs, whatever you call it.  But just ’cause of whatever has happened in the last few years, there’s been a certain amount of attention paid to my music and certainly in Germany and Switzerland and France where I just find myself in these funny situations. I find myself playing in front of more people than I’ve ever dreamt of playing in front of. And it’s been really interesting to just apply what I’ve been doing on the small stages in some of the big ones and not being able to gauge crowds’ reactions.I mean, you’ve got to understand what it feels like to stand on a stage like that. You know, like Rock In Park, where there’s 30,000 people. You can’t see, there’s just unlimited people to the right, unlimited people to the left and you can’t even see the end. It’s like just being out in front of a huge chess board filled with about a million people.


IN: It’s just like this big moving floor.


AG: Yeah and I look at individual people and they look so lost in this, like, sea of people. Sometimes now it just seems like a dream to me ’cause I haven’t been touring for the past few months and I can’t believe there was a time in my life where I used to get up in front of 30,000 people and just dance around. Like, could I ever do that again?


IN: Considering you went from that to working in Starbucks for a while, I understand.


AG: Yeah, heh heh, that’s right.


Interview: Damian Leslie


Part One – Where Adam and Incendiary get to know one another


Part Three – Starbucks, critics and a full voice