Concert Sutra talks with Greg Connors
By terri sapp
Photographs taken by terri sapp
© Concert Sutra, All Rights Reserved
Concert Sutra: What inspired you to become a musician?
Greg Connors: Other people’s music moving me. Certain songs, I believe, have kept me alive or going or ‘feeling less alone’. Bill Taft said that of my writing once and it made me realize I was doing something right. Writing with a musical formula can ‘come across’ to more people. Instruments being an infinite source of potential skill honing and frustration has always appealed to me.
Concert Sutra: When did you write your first song? What was it? When did it happen?
Greg Connors: I was 6. It was a song called ‘When I get angry I spit fire’. My dad read it aloud as it sat on my desk in this nasally New York accent like an adult reading a children’s work and it sounded ridiculous. It was my first lesson in how not to phrase. phrases.
Concert Sutra: I saw you play the guitar and harmonica during your live performance, what other instruments do you play?
Greg Connors: I’d like to think I could play anything in a studio as long as I get ‘do overs’. I cannot fake drums whatsoever.
Concert Sutra: What is your favorite planet? Why?
Greg Connors: Pluto. I like to pull for the underdog and the defiled.
Concert Sutra: What was your process in recording your newest album, “Here, There, and Anymore?”
Greg Connors: Joseph Arthur was forever saying “I want to produce your album, man.” I was never sure what he meant by that. He had recorded me just acoustic at his apt. in Atlanta in ’95 and said he was hearing ‘back-ups’ and I wasn’t sure what to think. Of course, now I have trouble hearing songs we recorded on Here, There, and Anymore without Joe’s backing vocals. Live, I have had friends such as Stan Satin or Matt Purdy (foxy) do stand-ins for Joe’s part.
I had just moved to N.E. PA and gained some marbles back and Joe suddenly had a window in his schedule and he invited me down to his place in D.U.M.B.O to record. Much of it song choice-wise was what felt or sounded good right there. Some songs were very new, others were my ‘old hits’ Joe suggested I include. He told me to consider what people liked of mine over the years.
In the more livingroomish part of his loft, I’d just kind of bang the skeleton of the song out acoustic and he’d hear something instantly. We’d go back in his recording ‘vault’ and I’d sing and play one of the guitars laying around or it would take on a new feel with a drum loop or midi. Then we’d add things, take away….bounce it off our friend Ceriese Leang who also had good insights.
Concert Sutra: Give me a synopsis of your previous recordings, and explain how your process has evolved from record to record.
Greg Connors: Most recordings were with Zod and Stan. I think I’ve come to trust myself more and learned the ‘wisdom to know the difference’ in terms of who to listen to and in terms of direction and encouragement. I’ve spent a lot of time only hearing negatives and honing in on people who say nothing and my imagination getting the best of me or them depending on how you look at it.
Concert Sutra: How does your music go from an idea in your head to a rocking album like “Here, There, and Anymore?”
Greg Connors: Rocking, huh? I honestly think musically and lyrically on a constant level. It has taken struggle and discipline to be the least bit employable-day job-wise. But, perseverance and humility. Acceptance of 4 steps forward 20 back, then the realization that that can be merely perception. not to get all new age and shit.
Concert Sutra: Do you have any pets? If yes, tell me about him/her/them.
Greg Connors: The last pet was a beautiful grey and white long-haired cat named ‘Denise’. She had beautiful green eyes, too. She was completely unaffectionate and a total bitch, so when my last girlfriend kicked me out, I left my lovely Denise there to live in my place.
Greg Connors: Originally Joe was going to put it out on his label, which was then going to be called ‘vein records’. That was not coming to fruition at that time and Stan really believed in this album and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. It’s been a wonderful asset to have in my corner. Cool t-shirts and pins, too.
Concert Sutra: At the Scared Records Showcase you played last month at Lenny’s in Atlanta, I noticed you playing with madman drummer, David Watkins, a.k.a. Zod, and had the wonderful privilege of sharing vocals with Vietnam’s singer/saxophone player, Stan Satin. How did you guys end up playing music together?
Greg Connors: Dave and Stan have always supported and encouraged me to keep writing the best songs I could. Even at, or more importantly at the lowest, filthy most points in my life. That’s support. I see them and the rest of Vietnam as pioneers and heroes on many different levels. The initial connection, though, was probably somehow related to food service and drugs.
Concert Sutra: Does being such a good looking fellow ever create problems for you having to fight off the drooling mob of admirers?
Concert Sutra: How does it make you feel to hear that people on the scene are saying that you are our generation’s Bob Dylan?
Greg Connors: It makes me want to worship and donate every cent I make to that scene. I want to bask in that scene. Seriously, I can’t think of anything too much more complementary. Was it a drooling mob scene?
Concert Sutra: Actually, no. That came from your musical peers and fans. Does that sort of comment create any pressure for you as a songwriter and musician that may not have been there otherwise?
Greg Connors: No, I have always laid the pressure on myself pretty heavy. It may conjure up a bit of the ‘if I only knew then what I know now….but as Dylan himself said, “none of us really KNOW anything.” Not to get all New Age on ya again, though.
Concert Sutra: Tell me about your upcoming live shows.
Greg Connors: Well, the second week of every month, I host an open mic at this place here in Montrose, PA called DOWNTOWN GROUNDS CAFE. I hate setting up shows and in spite of inspiring drool and Dylan innuendo, I don’t draw enough of an audience to use as a bargaining chip with the revolving doors of booking agents at venues around here or most places. Europeans seem to keep inviting me there. Maybe I should pull a Nina Simone. I need help in that regard, I guess (Marketing). The area I’m currently in, other than the café is sort of in the dark ages creatively (which I, of course, can find quite inspiring and aggravating). So, I usually have to play in the city or Atlanta to draw anyone. Strange, huh? Keep your eyes peeled on www.myspace.com/gregconnors if you are interested in booking or hearing….I just played several in a row down your way (Atlanta). That was great. You are great. Concert Sutra is a greatly cleverly titled column. Thanks for asking me all these things, terri. Happy New Year!
Concert Sutra: Thank you, Greg. I hope 2007 brings us all great things. I (and many around me) can’t wait to see you around playing your music again. In the meantime, I will keep enjoying your newest album “Here, There, and Anymore” in my CD rotation.