Driving from Portland to San Francisco, Craig Fox, vocalist and guitarist for Detroit base band The Greenhornes, recalls having played in the city over two years ago at Bottom of the Hill. This time around and as headliners for The White Stripes, the group that also includes Patrick Keeler on drums, and Jack Lawrence on bass, moved to the much larger venue, The Greek Theatre in Berkley. Although this was the first time they’d played that outdoor concert spot, Fox was particularly excited to play Red Rocks, as are most musicians. “I’ve seen tons of footage of bands playing there over the years,” he says, thinking about other spots they’ve been along this tour. “We did a festival in Japan that was a lot of people…I don’t even know how people there were. It was a big, sports arena. I think all of the shows were sold out…they seemed to like us.”
In their time The Greenhornes have also made a habit of playing in Europe, although fans had to pay the import price for their albums since their distribution in foreign countries has been limited. This issue was quickly resolved with the signing to V2 who has international distribution covered.
Their friendship with Brandon Benson came about through the typical mingling and gig playing in their hometown of Detroit. It was that relationship that was the catapulting factor behind their career move to V2, since Benson was also on the label. The Greenhornes had the songs for East Grand Blues, their debut EP that was eventually released on Prize Brigade/V2, close to being finished, but they didn’t know what their next step was going to be.
“He was pushing it to them, and then they helped us get it on iTunes,” Fox says, speaking of Benson’s efforts. “We were going to try to put it out ourselves after iTunes…then they just decided that they would put out a hard copy of it,” he explains.
Starting out in 1996 with more an early Stone’s era of blues and R&B, The Greenhornes released three full length albums including Gun for You in 1999 (Prince), The Greenhornes in 2001 (Telstar) and 2002’s Dual Mono (Telstar). It was during that time that they also met Jack White and collaborated on music, which again led them to avenues for exposure via the current worldwide tour.
Over the years and with the release of East Grand Blues, the band has progressed into the colorful world of The Yardbirds and The Beatles (Shine Like the Sun). There is an irony to their music, floating with a lyrical attire of frustration and a sort of mellowed rebellion that’s worn by a sunny and bright persona within the tones and melodies. According to Craig, Benson’s production influences came through within their vocal arrangements, bringing ideas to the table for different intros and orchestration.
The band plans to release a compilation of 15 or 16 songs of their previous material that will be distributed in Europe on V2, but Fox had no word on whether this will be available in the states. The good news is The Greenhornes will be headed back to the studio when this tour is over at the beginning of October, working again with Benson to produce their next full length.
After almost ten years, this band is definitely due the opportunities that have come this way in the past year. From listening to the appetizer portion of East Grand Blues, fans will be almost as excited as they are to have them play the Red Rocks this Monday, August 22.