Houston Calling

Ten Questions for Jeff Greer

October 25th, 2004 · No Comments

This Friday night, October 29th, local musician Jeff Greer is hosting his CD release party at Under the Volcano (near Rice Village on Bissonnet).

Jeff’s music has been compared to Devo, Violent Femmes, and other respected musicians. I recently contacted Jeff with questions about his music and his new album, Big Six Consultant. Enjoy.

Ten Questions for Jeff Greer

HC: How did you get started making music? You were active in the Austin music scene during the 80’s, right?

Jeff: I think I’ve always written. I remember being a kid and doing something rhythmic like mowing the yard, and I’d be writing songs in my head. Actually learning to play was another story. I started taking guitar lessons at about 8, but quit shortly after they taught me how to strum a C chord and play “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Boring! Started taking guitar again when I turned about 15. The drummer who taught me was doing it on the side to help pay his rent. I pretty much learned what he knew, and that’s still about all I know.

As for the Austin thing, I lived in Austin from 1997 to 1999, working on my MBA. At the UT MBA school (it wasn’t Red McCombs School of Business until after I left), there was a tradition that each class put together a band. Our class went a little overboard; we started an awful 80’s cover band. We called ourselves Six Figures, and we played places like the Copper Tank, Maggie Mae’s, and Bob Popular’s. It was fun, and I learned a lot from playing with those folks, even though it was just for fun. I’ve gotten a bit more serious since then, doing a stint as a deejay at KTRU and recording the album.

HC: I read comparisons to Devo, Violent Femmes, Willie Nelson, and other respected musicians. What do consider to be your musical influences?

Jeff: To some extent, everything I’ve ever heard…I love Willie Nelson, and I love Devo. I’m a first generation suburbia Texas boy, raised with KIKK and MTV, and so that makes sense to me. I like the Femmes, too. In Austin, I used to sing “Blister in the Sun.” I sang that and one of my own. I couldn’t sing much else because, truth be told, I couldn’t carry a tune if I had it in a bucket.

Other faves: the Judy’s, Ramones, Go-Gos, and Japanic. I was much saddened when Japanic broke up.

HC: What can you tell me about your new album, Big Six Consultant? Where was it recorded? Who produced it? etc.

Jeff: The album was recorded at Greer Ranch Studios. (Yeah, that means my spare bedroom.) All of it was done in Sonar. I did all the writing, performing (except for some pre-recorded loops), recording, mixing, etc. I had it pressed at Oasis CD.

HC: What do you think of the music scene in Houston? How would you improve it?

Jeff: There are a lot of talented folks running around Houston, but I think they have a hard time finding each other and finding a fan base. Houston’s spread out; that’s just the way it is. We don’t have a 6th Street. There are lots of venues, publications, deejays, etc. that do their best to get the word out, but, to some extent, only really devoted fans are listening. “Normal” folks might go listen to an original blues band or something in Austin, but they’re just as entertained listening to some cover band play “Brown Eyed Girl” at Outback Pub.

I’m not sure I know how to fix it. I don’t think we’re gonna talk the owners of Fitzgerald’s, Rudz, the Engine Room, Sidecar, etc. to all relocate to the same street…

HC: How would best describe your music to someone who’s never heard it before?

Jeff: Good songs that are all over the place. Country, punk, wave, whatever. To me, it’s all about writing good songs. I don’t care about genre or image. Video may have killed the radio star, but the micro indies survive.

HC: What’s your take on the state of the music industry? Are you for or against the MP3 “revolution”? How are you using the internet as a tool to market yourself and your album?

Jeff: I think the big record companies were slow to respond to technology, and I was pretty amazed when they were able to cram the genie back in the bottle. I thought Napster had just changed the world. I tend to not like the way big record companies treat artists, so I was actually ok with seeing them go. I figured that everybody would be recording at home and distributing on the Internet in a few years, anyway…It seems to me that the best music is going to get made because it’s created by people that are driven to make it. It shouldn’t be about the money. I mean, I think it’s great that there are people that can make a living doing music, but it’s certainly nothing I ever really thought was possible for me. I do this ‘cuz it makes me happy.

As for using the Internet as a tool, I’m following the MC Frontalot (www.frontalot.com) model. Give away the MP3s, and then beg for folks to buy the album. If they like it well enough to buy it, I’m flattered. If not, it didn’t cost me anything to share it out. If I hadn’t wanted to mail CDs out to non-commercial radio, I may not have even pressed CDs. I wanted to do that, though. (And I will. Eventually. Right now, I have 2000 CDs stacked in my bedroom, waiting on me to save up enough for postage…)

HC: What is the one description that you hate to hear about your music?

Jeff: I don’t know that I have one. Folks are gonna like what the like. “Trite” stings a bit, though.

HC: If you could have any band cover one of your songs, what song would it be and what band?

Jeff: I’d like to hear somebody cover “There Was a Time.” I love that song, and I’m not real thrilled with my recording of it. I kinda had Jim Reeves/Patsy Cline in mind when I wrote it, so I’d love to hear, like, Leann Rimes or Kelly Clarkson sing it. Maybe Harry Connick, Jr. on keys…I’d also like to hear Willie or Bruce Robison or Robert Earl Keen record any of my songs. It’s actually one of my goals in life to get drunk and sit around playing guitar with Willie one of these days. You gotta dream, right?

HC: What’s with the photo on Texas music website?

Jeff: They wanted a photo to list the album, and I was too lazy to go take a pretty one. That’s just a candid shot that happened to be on my hard drive at the time…

HC: What is in your CD player right now?

Jeff: I’ve been listening to a Lookout! Records sampler. My CD changer in the car is currently stocked with an NIV Bible. I’ve also been checking out Li’l Bit and the Customatics, and Megan Slankard, who I learned about, like the rest of the world, on What Not to Wear. I also try to check out stuff I haven’t heard, so I listen to a lot of KTRU and KPFT. Jeffrey Thames’ Sound Awake show on 90.1 is a real treat, and I’m not just saying that because he played me…

Thanks to Jeff Greer for taking the time to answer questions for Houston Calling. Be sure to check his album out. Visit his website here.

One more thing: I’ll be posting about this more in the future, but Speakeasy–a relatively new club on the edge of downtown (Main Street near the Spaghetti Warehouse)–plays hosts to a lot of local bands. Thursday night is open mic night, and should prove to be a good location to catch up-and-coming Houston musicians. Definitely check it out.

Now Playing in My iPod: Moron Parade — Dark Nights, Knife City

Tags: Music