FOR FANS OF: THE BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE, COURTNEY BARNETT
Essex based self-declared ‘lo fi indie’ band Green Dolphin may have an unusual name but it shows no signs of slowing them down, putting out records and working hard in their local town as well as spreading their wings to make a name for themselves elsewhere. They recently put out an EP ‘Bedtime Stories’ and their music is dark and moody, yet beautiful and powerful. We had a chat with them about the name, the band and other influences…
FIRST OFF LETS TALK ABOUT THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM – WHAT’S WITH THE NAME? WAS IT RANDOMLY GENERATED OR?
The emblem of the school we formed at had a big yellow fish on it. Thinking along those lines, we remembered the old jazz tune On Green Dolphin Street, and from there it stuck. We quite like it now, how silly it sounds. Our music is generally on the darker side of the indie spectrum, and the name kind of lightens it up.
SOUND WISE IT’S SOME VERY POPPY CHORUSES, BUT THEN ALSO SOME VERY GRUNGE / INDIE VIBES GOING ON. WHAT’S THE MAIN SOUND INFLUENCES FOR THIS BAND?
When we first formed, we all had massively different tastes. I guess none of us were that into music, compared to now at least. But as we’ve developed as a band and as mates, we’ve gained so many new influences. In one review, we have been described as a band who “wear their influences on their sleeve.” This probably comes from being able to pick out the elements from alike lo-fi indie and indie-punk artists. But we all also listen to so many other genres that hopefully influence our sound. Between us, we listen to a lot of hip-hop, jazz and dance music.
ARE THERE ANY OTHER INFLUENCES OUTSIDE OF MUSIC?
Many! Firstly, we worked with a friend, Aaron Jolley, on the artwork for all our releases this year. We bounced ideas off of each other and the final work really influenced our general aesthetic. As well as this, we’re influenced by our own personal experiences and hobbies. For example: Josh reads a lot of philosophy in his spare time, and he and Sam are both involved with a lot of grassroots activism.
YOU HAIL FROM THE SOUTH WHICH HAS ONE OF THE BIGGEST DIY SCENES. HOW HAS THIS INFLUENCED AND HELPED SHAPE YOUR BAND’S IDENTITY?
This is something that has really shaped us. We are all from small villages in East Anglia and so we often resent the difficulties of finding promoters to put on shows, and for people to come to the gigs when they’re on. We’ve never had many mates to come either! But with the DIY thing, it has been good fun at times, and most importantly it has given us so much practice in promoting shows ourselves, organising other bands, and playing to quieter rooms.
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR PEOPLE NOT JUST TO SUPPORT THEIR LOCAL SCENE, BUT ALSO THE NATIONAL SCENE?
Going to gigs and festivals in your region is one thing, but simply the community that is created around a band can have so much impact on people. If you look at something like the IDLES community AF gang, it is a national group that is made up of smaller local groups that overall means so much for so many people. However, whilst we love how UK music culture operates, the competition between scenes in cities is potentially detrimental to a band like us. We’ve always been trying to break onto a scene somewhere, but it’s difficult when you’re not local to a city with lots going on.
AT THE SAME TIME YOU’RE NOT TOO MUCH OF AN ACTIVE LIVE BAND, BUT ONE THAT KEEPS PUTTING OUT RELEASES. WHAT INFLUENCED THIS DECISION?
It’s quite a practical reason actually. Three of us are at university whilst James works full time. So in the holidays, we try to do as many shows as we can fit in, and release music and work on new ideas in between. It has worked well for us because it give us a reason to try and cram as many gigs into a short amount of time. That is not to say that we don’t try and make our live shows as good as they can be.
ON THE OTHER HAND THEY SAY THESE DAYS YOU NEED TO ALSO BE AS GOOD LIVE AS YOU ARE ON RECORD. DO YOU AGREE WITH THIS STATEMENT?
Absolutely! The way we see it is that fans are expecting you to put on a good show, and we as performers need to give them that.
YOU ALL SEEM RATHER CLOSE AS BAND MEMBERS, WHAT IS THE SECRET DO YOU FEEL TO LONGEVITY AS A BAND?
At first, you should compromise. People always have ‘great ideas’ whose potential is not recognised by others. If you compromise with other people when bouncing ideas about, particularly when writing, eventually you learn how each other’s qualities can really contribute towards something you’re all proud of. And you should trust each other to not only bring individual qualities to the band, but to each be equally open-minded. And the more you do it, the more the process just becomes routine.
YOU RELEASED YOUR FIRST FULL LENGTH / LENGTHIER RELEASE THIS YEAR. WHAT MADE YOU FEEL THAT YOU WERE READY TO PUT OUT SOMETHING LENGTHIER?
Well, before Josh and Sam went off to uni, we actually released a 10 track collection of songs. At the time we called it our “debut album.” We’ve always had this idea that we need to release something that fully represents where we are at. So Bedtime Stories, the latest EP, is just what we think is currently a representation of us.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER BANDS WANTING TO GET PUSHED AS MUCH AS YOU DO?
We feel as though a lot of ‘industry experts’ are afraid to tell aspiring artists that you need to put some money into your projects. Something that has worked really well for us is that we all put £3 a week into a joint bank account. Obviously there are many ways of managing your finances, so the advice would probably be to just be organised, and ti know what your goals are and have a plan of how they are going to be achieved.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK TO WHEN YOU STARTED THE BAND WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOURSELVES?
None really. Or, just keep doing what you’re doing. There are times when we think the whole thing is a lost cause. Either no one likes our new song, or we play to a room of ten people. But when we reflect on everything we’ve done, we feel as though everything has brought us to where we are currently. From the many mistakes we’ve made, we’ve learned from them. And from the best experiences we’ve had, we’ve enjoyed them. We don’t really believe in dwelling on the past too much.
FINALLY WHAT ELSE CAN WE EXPECT FROM THE BAND THROUGHOUT THE REST OF 2019?
We’re having our busiest Summer yet regarding gigs, from Southampton to Sheffield, most of which are free. Before we hide away again for some time, we will be releasing two more singles and a video.