Colleen Green is the consummate DIY artist. The petit California native is about to release her second EP of Ramones-inspired songs about boys, Cujo, and is headed on a nation-wide tour in support of the Dum Dum Girls. And while she lets others print and sell her records, drive her car, and uses an Arnold Schwarzenegger sample from Kindergarten Cop on her new EP, she makes sure everything else is definitively her own. She records all the different instruments on her records, and those that can’t be played simultaneously live simply aren’t.
But Green doesn’t pack the animosity or pretense normally associated with strictly DIY acts. At one point in our interview, I asked Green which California pop-punk lady she’d most like to get into a fight with. She laughed and shrugged it off, saying, “I like everybody.” She just doesn’t need them.
You’re about to go on tour with the Dum Dum Girls. A lot of people talk about California pop-punk girls like they’re all connected, but I don’t know. Are you friends with Dum Dum Girls?
Yeah, we’re friends. We have played together a bunch of times before, and we have a lot of mutual friends. We haven’t really hung out other than in a show setting, but Dee Dee has played drums for me before, and yeah we’re buddies, we’re cool.
It sounds like you’re doing something different with your voice on Cujo EP.
When I was recording Cujo I wanted it to sound different from what I’d done before in some way, and I kind of wanted it to sound a little bit more hi-fi than Milo Goes To Compton or Green One. I’m not sure. I think I used more delay on my vocals on this one, and more reverb in the past.
There are more moving parts on Cujo, too. Do you have a plan for doing that live?
Live, I just try to play the songs of mine that are the simplest and that will sound OK with just a guitar and a drum machine. From Cujo I pretty much just play the song “Mike,” because it’s got a lot of vocal parts, and there are no solos or anything like that that I’d have to try to play live. I’m not going to try to play anything complicated live, it’s just going to be very bare-bones and really simple.
Do you think there are two sides to Colleen Green, then? The more ambitious recording artist and the self-conscious live performer?
One day I definitely want the live experience to be totally different from what you hear on record. I knew that it was just going to be me and an electric guitar live—actually, the first show I played was just me, a drum machine, and I just played a distorted bass. And that was kind of the point. It’s definitely very minimal, but I wanted people to hear it and then go back to the record and think, “Oh, I remember hearing this, but it sounded totally different.” I’m just one girl and I kind of want to do everything myself.
What’s it like touring alone? Most bands tour in a van, but do you just tour in, say, a Toyota Camry?
Well, the first time I went on tour I was with my friend’s band, The Big Big Bucks. They’re my friend’s band from Boston. We were all supposed to go in the same car at first, but their van broke down and they had to take a really small car so they couldn’t fit me. But I was really determined to go on tour, so I made my friend Kayla come with me and we basically took Craigslist rides and buses and hitch-hiked our way from Los Angeles to Boston.
The second time I went on tour was with another band from Boston called Girlfriends. They have a really awesome van so I just went with them. I didn’t have a buddy that time, but it was really fun.
The last time I went on tour in March, my record label, Hardly Art, helped me buy a car. I actually had a bass player on tour with me on that tour because I needed someone to help me drive.
I mean, I’m cool with just being by myself. I don’t really need to socialize or have somebody with me there all the time. I’m cool with just doing my own thing.
A lot of your songs revolve around boys and love, or lack thereof. And one thing I think about with things like that is, how much of that kind of thing comes from real-life experience? Like with Bright Eyes, that guy obviously wasn’t heartbroken that many times.
It’s definitely not fabricated. Everything I write about definitely comes from my heart. I would say that most songs are inspired by something or someone, but then you have to add stuff so that it all rhymes and stuff like that. Sometimes you have to embellish a little bit.
So you’re about to release Cujo and then go on tour, but do you have any long-term plans after that?
I had a tape called Milo Goes to Compton that I put out in January of 2010. That is being put out on vinyl on Art Fag and should be out in early 2012. Right now I’m actually working on my first LP for Hardly Art. After that, I’m not sure. Right now my only plans are to work on that LP for Hardly Art, and then after that I’m not sure what’s going to happen. I might go on tour, I might become an actor, I don’t know.
Besides your own, what other records are you excited about this year?
Um, I don’t know. I don’t really know who in the current music world is coming out with music.
Well, Dum Dum Girls are one.
Yeah, I don’t really listen to music a whole hell of a lot. If I do listen to music, it’s usually like UB40 records from the late ‘80s or the Fastbacks. I’m really lazy and don’t listen to that much new music.
Actually, I listen to the radio a lot. Does that band LMFAO have something coming out?