Syntax Issue 10
Denver Syntax

{roger green}
photos courtesy of Brian Carney

The often-eccentric Roger Green has long battled charges of being musically eclectic. From his days of playing in The Czars to his solo albums he has always been seen as experimental or avant garde.

By his own account, Green is not interested in working within the confines of traditional 4/4 time signatures and 12 bar progressions. He is more interested in running through the otherwise vast musical landscape of alternate time signatures, more voluptuous progressions, stops, changes and movements. Even with that much granted - listen to his work and you will see that he is not that much off of center. In an honest way, Green is an explorer – always seeking-out new and unique methods for creating new spatial compositions. And sure, all of this is coupled with his stage show which could easily prove the pundits points: that Green makes his way on gimmicks and being obtuse.

Afterall, one of the first things you will notice about Roger Green on stage is his monster array of guitar pedals. But these are hardly gimmicks. In this I see integrity and I envision Green as more of a composer than a musician – with his pedals as his symphony.

Green is at once diligent in his approach as much as he is deliberate about which pedals and effects he utilizes. Constantly tuning and tinkering on stage – Green pushes his guitar to its limits.

But strip him down, and take away his symphony – and Roger Green is a true songwriter. In his songs – the ones he writes as well as the ones he covers – there is an intense personality within. Each song is either selected or written with a vibrant honesty. In the end this kind of intimacy is what Green is after, compositionally and lyrically.

Currently finishing his much-anticipated follow-up album to his second solo effort, Green’s musical aptitude will be visibly on display. Deliberately selecting covers that were written by females – Green has, once again, found an intriguing way to both display his talent as a musician and composer, as well as creating a vehicle to demonstrate his sense of sentimentality, vocally. Oddly enough, this move of selecting songs already written by females is affording him a chance to expose his identity even more. In this, the songs are sure to be uniquely Green.

Having studied and played with the likes of a jazz giant such as Ron Miles, Green has an extensive musical knowledge base. And so, after finishing his work with The Czars, Green welcomed the opportunity to push-out on his own, to blossom more as a musician and song craftsman. And that he did.

At first he didn’t employ many lyrics. For Green, humans are interpretive creatures – they delve into things like lyrics and use them as symbols to draw a picture of an artist like Green. Even now that his professional progression has lead him to full-time duties behind the microphone – vocals and lyrics are incredibly vulnerable for Green. At times, they’re even an avenue for invasion.

But in remaining honest, this invasion is sure to not be misinterpreted.

While he is a wildly versatile and adroit guitar player, able to mold and morph into a variety of shapes and forms in this most-personal music, Green is interested in giving a listener a very authentic version of the man behind the pedals.

Because of his strong aptitude and desire to play with compositions and textures – Green’s progression seems appropriate. The fact that he played the bulk of his first solo shows with no vocals, I believe, gave him the chance to really work-out his notions of textures with his pedals. It gave him a chance to focus only on composition.

His song structures can feel unorthodox, for some. But for this author, Green affords us an opportunity to step outside of rock n’ roll convention and run through new textural and compositional landscapes. In this we are afforded a re-education. But don’t get this wrong, Green’s work is not all that strange. Hardly. It’s just that his concentration on creating more of a mood and an overall experience can expand a song’s structure to limits that bare some investigation on the listener’s part.

Roger Green is not an elitist, nor is he pedantic in his views. To the contrary, he is a steward of all forms of music. And don’t think that an education is necessary to listen to Green’s work. Because it’s not. And while he is interested in working with different time signatures and creating new and fresh song structures – Green is not out to change his audience. Rather, he is very honest and earnest in his pursuit of simply giving listeners everything he has to give.

I encourage you: Talk with Green about music. You are apt to discover some interesting notions on a whole variety of topics. He talks passionately about music in general, but he is noticeably driven by all things jazz. Another topic of note is Green’s interest in the cultural acceptance of sound. Of the Beatles. And about an absolute downside - dance music.

Juxtaposed against his own work, Green sees dance music as politically frightening. What he means by this statement is that this type of music dictates to the listener what they should feel. It is a form of hypnosis. In this there is rigidity in its unwavering 4/4 time signatures.

Seen in the light of these styles of music, Green’s work is refreshing. If you are unable to get beyond the notion that his pedals are not gimmicky, that he is not interested in being obscure, and that he is, indeed, a songwriter of the highest magnitude – then Green has to be seen as a virtue when standing in the face of music that gives its listeners very little room for interpretation.

If nothing else, Roger Green gives his audience a myriad of avenues for interpretation. And while the lyrics can be transferable into just about anyone’s life – the true subject of consideration is always Green.

In conversation, Green, like any one of us, may not let a stranger in to his world. But place him on stage and that stranger is bound to learn, intimately, about Roger Green.

And if the proof is not on the stage, then it certainly is in his new album, which is slated to hit stores this summer.

Visit Roger for an update on shows and a date for his album release: www.myspace.com/rogergreen.