Zach Braz of These Green Eyes
Three years in the making, These Green Eyes released their debut album on Blackledge Music titled Relapse to Recovery on March 24th. Hailing from Connecticut These Green Eyes (Colin Cunningham on vocals, Greg Mauro on guitar, Jeff Krenn on guitar, Zach Braz on bass, and Mark Brundrett on drums) came together as a band when Brundrett, Mauro and Braz met in high school and shared a passion for music.
With Relapse to Recovery the band has put together an album that tackles some heavy issues, including the loss of a friend to suicide and the rise and fall of emotions after such a tragic event. Somewhat of a concept album, the songs range from the highs and lows of dealing with life’s tragedies, finding the will to move on, and hope for the future.
Having been called everything from indie-rock to post-hardcore to punk-pop the sound of the band is hard to sum up by slapping on one label. With beautiful harmonies and catchy hooks Relapse to Recovery displays the bands diversity and views on life through their music.
These Green Eyes will be performing at this years Bamboozle and on Warped Tour, bassist Zach Braz took some time to talk to us about everything….
Interviewed by: Mary Ouellette | March 2009
Your album “Relapse to Recovery” was released this week. For music fans that may not be familiar with your music, what would you want them to know about this album?
This album is the finished product of over three years in the making. We’ve been a band for almost six years and written hundreds of song ideas. The eleven songs on this album (and two the bonus tracks) are what came together when our everyday lives hit rock bottom, and inspiration hit an all time high. Hope you like it!
The album title “Relapse to Recovery” holds a very personal message to the band; can you tell us what it means and the significance of it?
Simply stated, the title references hitting your lowest point before coming to and facing the world again. Sometimes it takes solid blow to make you realize what’s really important in life.
Can you pick two of your favorite songs from the album and sort of walk us through the writing process as to how they came together both lyrically and musically?
Kick The Crutch: Now here’s a song idea that Colin conceived and came together musically when the rest of us put in our two cents. We all loved groovin’ on the song, as it was a stylistically different than our other stuff, but we couldn’t figure out what it all was about! Writing lyrics waswhen things got interesting. Colin and I isolated ourselves deep in the woods with nothing but guitars, notebooks, beer, and Sparks. It took about an hour and a half of distracted drinking before the message finally came out. Suddenly we were hit with the purpose of the song; to counter-argue the message of of the last album, “House Of Glass.” Kick the Crutch is basically the person on the other side of our old songs fighting back and calling “us” out. It was really cool taking a look at ourselves and writing about how certain people in our lives must feel about US!
Words: Colin and I came up with this song in an elevator of a hotel room on tour. We isolated ourselves in the elevator to avoid the people walking through the hall so that we could concentrate. Sure enough, the elevator door opens and members from The Wolfpack and Insane Clown Posse (on tour together at the time) were taking our elevator up to their room. I swear, sometimes you just can’t escape it. We took a break from the song to get the other guys and joined the other bands at their room party. Plenty of “legal” activities went on; we all had a great time together. Thankfully we had most of the song completed so it was easy enough to pick up and solidify the next day.
Does the band write songs as a whole or what is the general writing process for you?
The entire band is almost always involved in the writing process. Sometimes Greg will come up with a riff, which Colin will develop into a song, which I will structure, then Mark will make it rock with the drums. Sometimes Colin will come up with an entire song idea on his own that we will all throw our twist on. Jeff adds great input on songs, and hopefully will come up with some song ideas of his own for the next release.
One of my favorite songs on the album is “Time of Our Lives.” I read in an interview with Greg that he said that that song was different than anything you had done in the past; can you tell us where that inspiration came from?
Time of Our Lives is my favorite song as well. The song started as a very hard, fast, in your face idea that Colin came up with. In the studio it was polished down into more of an overture. The words came together when we reminisced on our younger days; the moments when we felt invincible. This song kind of sums up the whole idea of the album in saying “Remember when life was innocent and permanent? I was miserable but confident. Oh, how things change when we confess (that) this was the time of our lives.” I don’t know how else to put it. Growing up with a “hurt” CT scene, we always felt that our “fuck you” attitude was more than enough to cover our short comings as people. When we lost a friend to suicide, it was impossible not to grow up and take notice that life would never be the same. We may never have the youthful spirit and confidence that our younger selves once owned, but we certainly have grown up quite a bit in admitting that life goes beyond us. I think just about anyone can relate in looking back and realizing the times you thought were so rough were actually the best times of our lives.
Your video for “Sucker Punch” was added to the rotation on mtvU. The song has a pretty heavy message, after the tragedy of losing a friend to suicide, how important was it to the band to write this song?
Sucker Punch (Won’t Get Away With It) was written for our friends in mourning. I’m sure many of you have heard of great support sites, such as “To Write Love on Her Arms” that deal with the tragedy and prevention of suicide. It’s a sick trend that seems be picking up lately. This song is about the people left behind. Coping with that emotion of loss, and not the sympathetic kind. Even if you hit a point where your life seems insignificant, you don’t realize just how many people have truly attached themselves to you. For lack of better words, taking “the easy way out” leaves everyone you’ve ever loved or cared about in the blackest pit of their lives. So what the made you think you could do something like this to ME? Just because you left don’t mean that the world stops spinning. Now I’m stuck here without you. It’s not meant to be nasty, just coping with one of the many emotions one experiences through loss.
I think the album as a whole tackles some very weighty issues that younger people may have to deal with in their lives and not really know the best outlet to deal with them, for me, music has always been the ultimate healer- did you write this album with that in mind? That you might be helping people heal through some tough times?
In writing this record was the first time that we took others feelings into consideration far more than our own. We have a lot of younger friends, and fuck, some of them have it real rough. My highest ambition has always been to help people cope through my art. This feeling is shared, obviously, by the other members. Every time someone comes up to one of us at the show and tells us how much a song means to them, every time we get a sincere comment on myspace….. The purpose in writing music is not for fame, and for anyone who’s had a taste in the industry, it’s certainly NOT about money! It’s connecting with all sorts of people around the world that keeps us going.
The cover art is just that – some pretty crazy art, can you tell us who the artist was and the significance behind it?
Kelly Chilton is our album artist. Really cool guy. Way lay back and has helped us with numerous shirt designs as well. As artists, we’d never want people telling us how to write our music. So when it came time for Kellly to design, we simply sent him the record and told him to do however the music moved him. Couldn’t be more stoked with what he came up with. He nailed it. Check out more of Kelly’s stuff at http://www.kellychilton.com/
Greg and Mark have been playing together since high school; can you tell us how that kind of relationship impacts the success of the band?
Greg and Mark have a strange sort of chemistry. They almost know what each other is thinking. Sometimes we’ll be jamming and I’ll see Greg smile and nod at Mark. Nothing said. Suddenly the song we’re playing turns into a shitty “Hootie and the Blowfish” knock off song. Split second. Just like that. It takes the rest of us a few to catch on and play up the joke, but Mark and Greg go instantly. They also have similar tastes in food, addictions, sleeping hours, and women. Weird, huh?
The band started with a very DIY approach, scheduling your own tour, and taking all of the business matters associated with being in a band on your shoulders as well. Do you think doing all of that has given the band a different kind of strength and perspective that bands who don’t have to do any of that work are missing?
ABSOLUTELY. We booked tour after tour ourselves for over four years! In fact, we’re still doing it somewhat!!! While I’ve often thought about how nice it would be to blow up overnight, I’d never trade our days of “paying our dues.” Shit, if I hear one more person tell me we need to “pay our dues…” I’m convinced we will never stop paying our dues. It is nice, however, to finally get some backing from a legit label (Blackledge) that truly cares about breaking out new artists. CEO Ben Goldman and AR Matt Clery have been so cool to us. I was so surprised when they left us to our own devices in writing the record. I think kids are sick to death of the “corporate touch” on independent artists. They trust us with the artistic end, we trust them with the business end.
You are scheduled to play Bamboozle in May which should be a great way to introduce yourselves to some new fans. What bands are you most interested in seeing play?
I’ve always wanted to meet Gwen Stefani myself. I’m stoked to see the other bands playing the “Passion Clothing” stage as well. Passion makes some great threads and we appreciate the opportunity to play on their stage. Check out http://www.myspace.com/passionbrandclothing for some sick shirts. Bayside, Lydia, Cobra Starship… all great guys, can’t wait to hang. Rise Against! Been a big fan for years. No Doubt, (and no pun intended) this year’s Bamboozle should be a blast. Come party with us!
I’ve seen some info that you may be playing on Warped tour this year; can you shed some light on that? Will you be taking part in it and if so, how much of the tour?
Right now we have some selected dates on the “Kevin Says” stage in the Midwest. More dates are coming in as time goes on. Check out our Myspace page for updates. AND PLEASE, PLEASE, if you see us at show, come say hi after! None of us bite, with the exception of Jeff after midnight, and we love nothing more than meeting and hanging with new people. Thank you for reading! See you on the road!!!