Interview: Green Like July

Green Like July hail in Italy, Alessandria. Since 2003 they’ve been playing their folk pop/rock influenced music, releasing ‘Four-Legged Fortune’ in 2010. The band, composed by Andrea Poggio (vox, guitar), Nicola Crivelli (bass) and Paolo Merlini (drums), is going to tell us about the role of travelling, Omaha, folk influences and cover songs, among the rest.

Your music sounds pretty folk-blues, especially referring to your last album ‘ Four Legged Fortune’. Your music has been labelled as ‘Americana’ and ‘traditional folk’, whereas you label yourselves as ‘folk-rock’.  How would you define it to somebody who has never heard of you?

 Roar, roar the thunder and the roar

In you there is some folk from the 00s like Bright Eyes in your music, as well as some Americana from the 90s but also a lot of the folk from the 60s-70s, like Creedence Water Revival and Byrds. In which musical era would you place your music?

I wouldn’t place our music in a different era than the one we live in. All that we do is writing songs. These songs are obviously influenced by what we see, we read and we listen to every day. We gave “Four-Legged Fortune” the sound we thought would have been better for the songs we had at the time. Who knows what’s going to happen in the future.

In the UK the folk genre has been revamped thanks to bands like Noah and the Whale and artists like Alessi’s Ark and Laura Marling, lots of young acts which take roots in the classics readapting them. How much does this new wave of folk influence your music, and how much does some other big name from the past?

We all listen to a lot of different music, and, yes, we all like the bands you mentioned. To be honest, I’m not so sure on how this new British scene is influencing our songwriting. I only know that the first time I’ve heard Alessi singing I thought “hey, my voice sucks!”. 

You recorded ‘Four Legged Fortune’ in Nebraska, US. How much does the location influence the recording sessions themselves in your opinion? I’m not just talking about the crew, but also the atmosphere of a specific setting.

Recording an album far away from home it certainly helps you in focusing on what you’re doing. Apart from that, we stayed in Omaha for a couple of weeks… there was so much work to do in the studio that we didn’t have the time to hang out that much.

You’ve been travelling a lot; after the release of ‘May this winter freeze my heart’  2005, Andrea lived in Glasgow for one year, and then, with a revamped line-up, you went to Nebraska to record your last album and met people like Jake Bellows (Neva Dinova), A.J. and Mike Mogis. Did all this travelling leave a mark on yourselves and your music?

Travelling is always important for inspiration. On August we toured Sicily: that is an inspiring place! Places like Palermo or Catania are literally pouring songs from walls. Speaking of Glasgow, well… Glasgow’s great and there’s music everywhere. Travelling is also important because it gives you the opportunity to meet new musicians and to learn from them.

You released a free download of the EP ‘Two Cover Songs By Green Like July’ in which you covered John Lennon and Big Star. You also released a version of the outstanding ‘Wire’ by Alessi’s Ark. Is it better in your opinion in readapting the classics without losing its core, or to implement your own creative licence?

It depends. The important thing is to play the song until it becomes yours. You have to give your own meaning to the words you are singing and to the music you are playing. You never know how is going to end: you can either end up playing something close to the original version of the song or you can eventually make your own thing.

 Which is the aspect of live performances you enjoy the most? How important is it in the current music scene, especially for indie breakthrough acts?

I like the fact that each night you can give a new life to your own songs… that your songs grow old with you. A band that doesn’t play live is only half a band, to quote Keith Richards.

It’s time to be a bit less formal. Are there any famous people, dead or alive, with whom you’d like to hang out?

We would like to work with Jeff Lynne, have a cup of tea with Charlie Watts and spend an afternoon with Gram Parsons.

What does the future looks like for Green Like July, both in the Italian and international scene? How do you see yourself in 5 years?

Well, we’ll hopefully keep playing and recording songs! Five years? That’s too much, I don’t even know what I’m going to do tomorrow.


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