Intervju: The Green Pajamas

Siden 1984 har Jeff Kelly drevet sitt pop-psykedelia kultband The Green Pajamas fra Seattle. Her prater han med grooves Ronny Svendsen blant annet om deres ferske album 21st Century Séance.

Amerikanske Green Pajamas har lenge vært en liten undergrunnskult i psych-pop-kretser (Ptolemaic Terrascope og der omkring). I et slags skjæringspunkt mellom Dipsomaniacs og Crowded House har de levert en håndfull smått klassiske album.

Bandet hadde sin spede start allerede i 1984 og rakk å gi ut noen skiver før de trakk seg tilbake i 1989. Åtte år senere gjorde de comeback med skiva Indian Winter (1997). All Clues To Megan's Bed (1998) regnes kanskje som deres beste skive.

Green Pajamas er den høsten aktuell med sin ferske skive 21st Century Séance. groove.no tok en prat med bandet frontfigur Jeff Kelly i
anledningen.

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- You just released a new studio album, 21st Century Séance. Can you tell us a little bit about the recording process? Was it different from before?

Jeff: Yes, well it was different than the previous CD, Ten White Stones, because that one was recorded live with the band in a studio, everybody playing at once. Which was very fun. We did very, very few overdubs with that one. A couple of vocal things. But most everything was live. But the usual way of making a Pajamas record is very different. I record most of the stuff myself at home. Laura (Weller, gitarist og vokalist, red. anm.) will come and play guitar on a song she wrote and do her vocals, then I'll build up everything around that.

Eric (Lichter, keyboards, red. anm.) will most often work on a song at home, then bring over what he's got on CD and leave it with me to
finish - bass, electric guitar or backing vocals - whatever. And that's how 21st Century Seance was recorded.

- Is the album more psychedelic than you've been lately?

Jeff: I guess you might say that. Certainly more than Ten White Stones or Northern Gothic. It depends on how one interprets the word
psychedelic. It can mean so many things now. The album was originally conceived as a sort of follow-up to Strung Behind The Sun but it didn't turn out that way exactly. Some of the more blatant "psychedelic" things were left on the cutting room floor, so to speak. They just weren't first rate...

- Will it be distributed in Europe?

Jeff: It's on Hidden Agenda/Parasol. I believe their distribution is world-wide.

- What inspired you to start writing songs and creating music?

Jeff: The Beatles of course!

- How do you create music? From melody line, chord progressions, lyrics or jamming?

Jeff: It can come in any fashion. When I was doing stuff for All Clues Lead to Meagan's Bed, I would often record some cool music - guitars and drums say - and, when that was done, figure out a melody and lyric. But some of the best songs just come at once or, at least, very quickly. It happens every way imaginable. I get most inspired to write a good song if I think of a hook first which usually, of course, becomes the chorus. That can come at any time. Often in driving in the car because I have no radio. And there really needs to be something to inspire me - something real that has happened. Or something I've read or seen.

- Do you have a day job or is PJs a full time project now?

Jeff: Still have a day job, unfortunately.

- Have you written your best song yet?

Jeff: Maybe. Hard to say. I'd love to go on and write something more serious - like a choral work. That's something I'd love to do. But even if I wrote the most beautiful piece for choir and set the most beautiful poem, I'm not sure I'd be more proud of it than 'Lost Girls Song' or 'Bleak Are the Bells' from Northern Gothic. I've written some good stuff. If you do anything long enough you're going to get a few things right. Even if only by accident.

- What are the PJs songs you're most pleased with?

Jeff: Well, there's two of them I just mentioned. But also: 'When You're Good To Me' which is on the If She Only Knew e.p. 'The Secret of Her Smile' and 'Rattlesnake Kiss.' It really depends - do you mean the recording itself or just the song? I assume both. The song about Lewis Carroll on the new album - 'Mostly Alice' - was a good one. I'm proud of 'Like a Memory' which is on that one as well. Mostly I like the ones that have personal meaning to me. Those often turn out to be the best recordings too, just because I'm more inspired; 'For S' or 'The Cruel Night' from Ten White Stones. The truth is I like a lot of them. 'Lost Girls Song' might be my favorite recording. I was very pleased with the song and the recording and had just finished it when I made a quick rough mix. The next day, the adat master (just picture a VHS tape) was "eaten" by my machine. The 16 track master was destroyed. Luckily I had made a rough mix of the song, onto cassette tape, the day before. And that is the very thing that appears on Northern Gothic. You can hear the - now old fashioned - tape hiss at the beginning of the track. Anyway, the best part is, the song was inspired by a novel I read and loved - Lost Girls by Andrew Pyper - and, after Northern Gothic was released, the author contacted me and told me how much he liked the song and also the album. A friend had given the CD to him as a gift... 'For S' on Ten White Stones is a bit magical to me as well. The recording on the album was the first and only time we played the song all the way through - from start to finish. There was just one take. We never even practice it all the way through. I wrote the lyrics the morning before we recorded it.

- What inspire you from day to day?

Jeff: Sex, literature, movies, French actresses. Conversation, forbidden ideas. The Northwest Girlchoir. My wife and family inspire me to just keep going.

- Do you read a lot?

Jeff: Depends. I read a lot compared to, say, the people I work with who read very little. And I read very little compared to, say, my wife. I love books and literature but I also have to make room in my life for listening to music. I also love to watch movies or, once in a while, opera. Susanne and I watch very little television but I love things like the British series Midsomer Murders which we rent sometimes. We have a great local place to rent movies called Scarecrow Video. It's got to be one of the best in the world. The only TV show we ever watched regularly was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I miss that.

- Do you know any norwegian artists?

Jeff: I have to admit I don't know many. I'm sure I would if I had more time to commit to exploring music. We have a great radio station here in Seattle - KEXP - but that's probably my only real exposure to any cool stuff from over there. So one is turned on to very little music from other countries...

- Is there any chance that you'll come to Norway one day?

Jeff: I would love to. There is certainly a chance. I have relatives there on my wife's side.

- Thanks for giving us some of your time. A final question, what's your 5 favourite albums of all time?

Jeff: Impossible. There was a time when I thought I knew but I can't say anymore. I'm too old. The longer you live, the more beautiful music you experience and it's harder to nail down a top 5 or 10. I could almost come up with a top 20. If I absolutely couldn't have but just 5 albums I would begin to narrow it down with these:

Kate Bush - either The Dreaming or The Sensual World. Though I may change my mind after hearing her new one...

The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper... Though I don't see how I could live without some of the others - the White Album, Revolver, or any of the later ones, really.

At different times of my life I may have taken Taking Tiger Mountain by Eno and Aladdin Sane by Bowie with me.

I'd have to have something classical. Maybe Anne Sofie Von Otter's album of Berlioz songs or my Japanese-only Best of Natalie Dessay CD. Right now I'm wearing out my copy of Charlotte Gainsbourg's album she made with her dad. And there's a beautiful album by Carla Bruni too.

Something by Miles Davis. But it's really just impossible.


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