Many bands these days are perfectly happy to get together, record an album within a year, land a commercial spot and, if time permits, get out on the road. In the case of hardcore band the Greenery, it has been the reverse process—minus the commercial.
While the past four years may have seen this quintet self-record a couple of EPs, most of their time has been spent playing local venues, followed by endless stretches traversing the country.
This summer’s furious Wasted Days is a four-song EP that straddles the line between a punk-rock sound and the metallic fury of a Slayer record. That their hometown of Long Beach isn’t known for its thriving hardcore scene compounds the challenge of breaking out, but the band are undeterred. They design and silkscreen EP covers themselves and cram five deep into a van to play podunk towns from Iowa to Georgia.
Sitting down to speak with OC Weekly at the house where they practice in Lakewood, the early-twentysomethings—singer Matt Lanners, drummer Robert Albert, guitarist Derek Thomas, bassist Brandon Richardson and guitarist Mike Stone—talk about the scenic divide between Long Beach and the OC, a unanimous distaste for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the drive to do it themselves.
OC Weekly: What were you guys listening to growing up?
Derek Thomas: Minor Threat, Suicidal Tendencies, Black Flag.
Robert Albert: The Bled were definitely one of the first hardcore bands that I aspired to be like. They did it in a different way. It was heavy but catchy.
Thomas: Poison the Well—when I was around 15, they were literally the reason I started playing this kind of music.
To hardcore fans, there are distinct differences in the styles of bands from different regions. What’s different about your approach?
Thomas: Don’t take it so seriously. There are a lot of amazing hardcore bands out there right now, but there are a lot of real serious hardcore, like they’ve got something to prove.
Matt Lanners: A lot of the fun is taken out of the shows, sometimes by the tough attitudes from people onstage and the crowd. We want circle pits and stage dives like every other band, but we want people to have fun at the same time. We’re not from Boston; we’re not from super-rough areas.
Can you talk a little about the differences between Long Beach and Orange County hardcore audiences?
Lanners: We have our loyal fans [in Long Beach], but if we go to Chain Reaction in Anaheim, it’s a completely different scene. It’s so much more hardcore over there. It’s only 15 minutes away, but it’s crazy how the crowds change.
What about playing Slidebar?
Thomas: All the staff there know us really well; they’re really nice to us.
Lanners: We love playing there because it’s awesome having good sound and just a cool place for all your friends to come out.
Brandon Richardson: One of the best things about it is it’s free to get in and you don’t have to buy any drinks, so usually a bunch of our friends will come out.
A lot of bands get together, and before you know it, they have 12 songs recorded. You guys seem to be going the other way.
Lanners: We want to build it from the bottom up. We don’t want to put out a full-length for our first CD and have it be terrible. I want to be sure we actually know our sound and narrow it down.
Where do you guys have the best audience reaction?
Lanners: In some of the small towns we’ve played.
Thomas: Places in Texas, places in Georgia.
Albert: Storm Lake, Iowa—it’s the randomest little city.
Lanners: We got there, and kids were so into it. Before we even played, they came up and bought T-shirts. I think they thought, “This band is from Long Beach; if they got here, they’ve got to be doing something right.”
Would you say you guys are all on the same page, musically?
Albert: Yes and no. . . . I like my set of bands you’ve never heard of, Derek’s got his set of bands, Matt’s got his, but we can all listen to it when we’re on tour. Driving along, nobody’s like, “Ahh, change it!”
Lanners: “Except when it’s Red Hot Chili Peppers.” [Laughs.]
The Greenery perform at Slidebar Café, 122 E. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 871-7469; www.myspace.com/theslidebar. Fri., 8:30 p.m. Free. For more info on the Greenery, visit www.myspace.com/thegreenery.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Hey, Orange County/Long Beach musicians and bands! Mail your music, contact info, high-res photos and impending show dates for possible review to: Locals Only, OC Weekly, 2975 Red Hill Ave., Ste 150, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Or e-mail your link to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This column appeared in print as "On the Other Side."