Green River Ordinance returns to Birmingham on the heels of their Chasing Down the Wind EP, which is a return to their more acoustic, country sounds of “Dancing Shoes.” For more than a decade, the Forth Worth quintet have experienced major label success to the do-it-yourself approach from Kickstarter, all while blurring the lines of rock and country and growing a passionate fan base capable of backing both.
Weld: You release a lot of your music incrementally — Chasing Down the Wind is your eighth EP, if my math is correct. Why do you choose that approach rather than waiting to release full-length albums?
Josh Jenkins: We kind of like doing a little bit of both. Releasing EPs happens naturally; it allows us to work on a full-length while we put something out in the meantime. A lot of times, we spend too long on a full length, so it’s always been nice to be able to release EPs in between the records. Most of the time, those EPs are very stripped down, and a record is a lot more work for us. An EP is just a little more relaxed and more acoustic-driven and that’s what we’ve landed on.
We started with the Morning Passengers EP and then there was the newer EP, Chasing Down the Wind. It just kind of happens that way — I don’t really know.
Weld: When you do an EP, is it released on vinyl? Or do you stick to CD and digital formats?
JJ: We did Under Fire on vinyl; everything else has been on CD. The next full-length will be on vinyl as well. I think we’ll save the vinyl for the full-length records.
Weld: Did you prefer the financial backing of a label, or did you prefer the fan-funded approach that you used to release Under Fire?
JJ: Man, there’s benefits to both. We loved being on the label — it was awesome in a lot of ways. To have that team around you and that support — we benefited greatly from being with Capitol and loved them very much. And there’s also something great about being with fans, the fans funding it. We love calling our own shots and there’s a lot of value in that. We can release an EP if we like, we can release a covers record if we like — there’s no rules about what we can and can’t do. We like that about being independent. Having fans support us in that way and release content and do what we do is a lot of fun as well.
There are positives to both sides and there’s negatives to both sides. We’re very happy with where we’re at at the current moment.
Weld: Under Fire felt a little harder than the previous work, and while I haven’t heard Chasing Down the Wind, is that harder feel the direction you’ll go with the next full length?
JJ: The Chasing Down the Wind record definitely falls more in line with “Dancing Shoes,” so it’s more Southern pop-rock. That’s pretty much where we land at the current moment.
Weld: Do you have any idea when the next full-length will come?
JJ: I don’t know — probably in the next year? Hopefully. Lord willing. If things work out well. I think that’s kind of the whole EP thing — there’s this pressure you put on yourself against putting out an EP. We like to spend a little bit of time writing and coming up with some songs that feel good to us. We just put them out and give the fans something to listen to between records. A full-length is a little more meticulous; for better or for worse, that’s how it normally works out.
The idea would be to have something out in the next year, but it always doesn’t work out that way. We’ll see if songs come together and if everything works, then likely, within the next year.
Weld: You have a long relationship with Birmingham, bringing tours here — do you have any memories of the city?
JJ: I don’t feel like we’ve had a chance to really experience Birmingham. One of the first times we played Birmingham, we played a coffee shop somewhere — there was a station in town playing “Endlessly” and this is when we’d come through, this is when we released Out of My Hands on Capital and we’d play a coffee shop, which was awesome, and then every other time, we’ve played the WorkPlay. So we haven’t seen a ton of Birmingham, as much as we’d like to see, but we have some friends from there and I always feel welcomed there, for sure. So maybe this time we’ll get to get out and actually experience something other than the venue.
Weld: You created theHopeGROS.com a few years ago, which supports each of your favorite charities — have you seen your fans make a positive impact through that site?
JJ: Yes. I definitely think so. Any time you’re in a band or an artist, it can be very self-focused: buy our music, comes to our shows, do this for us. And for us, we’ve tried to deflect some of that and put it to something better than ourselves. And I think theHopeGROS.com allows us to do that — it creates an avenue for our fans to be engaged with things that we care about. I think ultimately…one aspect of the Green River Ordinance is impacting the world, impacting culture, allowing the music we write to be some sort of vehicle to help people, whether that is someone coming to a show and enjoying a song or someone buying a song on theHopeGROS.com and that song going to International Justice Mission. So that allows us to give back, and we’ve had a good time doing that.
I think we’re going to expand on that and add more music and we haven’t updated it in a while — something we’re hoping to do in the next few months.
Weld: Who are the top five American rock bands of all time?
JJ: Bands or just artists?
Weld: American is generally the thing we’re strict about.
JJ: I’m going to say Tom Petty — that’s top of the list. This is a great question. The Eagles, for sure. Tom Petty, The Eagles…
Foo Fighters, more of a relevant rock band, but when the dust settles, they’ll be one of the top five for me, at least.
[turns to guitarist Jamey Ice and asks for help]
The Band is one. Bruce Springsteen — that’s a good one. Round that out.
Green River Ordinance will perform at WorkPlay Theatre on Friday, March 21. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., while the show begins at 8 p.m. Emily Hearn will open, while Elenowen will perform second. Tickets are $12.