(July 20, 2008)
Q: Hey Erny, how are you doing?
A: Things are great. I just came off stage and after a show it’s almost always great when the adrenaline’s pumping through your body. Unless the show was a disaster of course, but today was good, so I’m good.
Q: First of all, can you introduce who you are and what kind of music you make?
A: My name is Ernst Grevink, and I started making music in 1979. I was in several new wave, underground bands, heavily influenced by bands like Joy Division & The Sound. That’s where my roots are. Between 1990 and 1995 I spent my time as a street musician and learned a lot in that time. Since 1992 I’ve been releasing records under the stage name of Erny Green, in the singer/songwriter genre. In short, that’s who Erny Green is.
Q: Earlier this year you released “Heartland Revisited”, a collection of your songs in new versions. Why did you decide to record new versions instead of use the old versions?
A: Initially I wanted to release a solo record, a live solo record, because people were always asking about my solo work. But the old CD was sold out and instead of pressing new copies, we figured that we could just as well play new versions. It sounds a little fresher and I was able to change a few things and put some new stuff on the CD. So it just kinda happened this way.
Q: For people who don’t know the album, how would you describe it musically?
A: The word ‘melancholy’ is what always comes back when you hear the critics or read the reviews. And I must admit that there is a good amount of melancholy and retrospect in my songs. So if I had to describe my music in short, melancholy would be the word.
Q: You also played with your band Polgate before. How different is it to be in a band compared to being a solo artist?
A: As a solo artist you have a lot more control because you don’t have to keep thinking about other people’s schedules and during performances you can focus more on certain little things, for example the vocals. With a band you have the ability to completely go for it and create that full atmosphere. Currently we’re playing as a trio, which is kind of in between, closer to being a solo artist than a band in my experience. And I’m enjoying that.
Q: You’ve traveled many places in your career and even spent time as a street musician. How has this influenced you as a person and a musician?
A: What I noticed most, is that it gets harder and harder to come back and find your place in society. Like everyone else, you want that place, but you get further and further away from society. As a street musician you get a whole different perspective on people and on life. You can say a lot of things that otherwise no one would take from you, and you get very direct interaction with people. Also it gives you a good position to look on society with an outside view, which is necessary for the kind of music I make. It definitely had an impact on the musician I am today.
Q: Are there specific places you would still love to go and perform? And why?
A: Pff, that’s a hard question. I can’t really think of a specific place, but maybe the Glastonbury Festival in the UK, or else the Lowlands Festival here in the Netherlands.
Q: And if you could pick any band or musician to play a show with, who would that be?
A: It would be kind of surreal to be on the same bill as Bob Dylan, so I think I’ll go with Dylan.
Q: Who are your main influences when it comes to your sound and songwriting?
A: Like I said earlier, the darker bands, new wave, especially Joy Division & The Sound. Dylan probably when it comes to singer/songwriter. I also enjoy Herman Brood, Motorhead, Radiohead, Arcade Fire, etc.
Q: For a little while you formed a Joy Division/Ian Curtis tribute band “Closer To Curtis”. Can you tell us a little bit about how that was like?
A: Anton Corbijn made that movie about Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis, “Control”. Richard Jongetjes (Hedon, Noorderslag Festival) called me because he was looking for a Joy Division band to accompany the release of the movie, but he couldn’t find anything good. He remembered I used to play in a band that was often compared to Joy Division and asked if I wanted to think about it. That same day, my old drummer returned from the US where he had played drums with another band and he was all for it. So we found a bassist & guitarist and started rehearsing. Then the tour was very successful, better than I could have hoped.
Q: Out of all the different things you have done and experienced in your career, what was the most memorable?
A: I can’t think of anything really strange, but a memorable moment that I will never forget is when I sold out Vredenburg, and when I came on stage. It was one of my first big shows as a solo musician. You get ready, and you see the venue, everyone silent, waiting for you to enter stage, and in the distance you see your guitar. That was a really impressive moment.
Q: And what are your current goals for yourself and your career? Any exciting plans?
A: Working on a new record. In my head, the ideas are pretty much there, but we will have to see how we are gonna work it out. Maybe throw in some electric guitar, make it sound a little modern, but maybe something completely different. Oh, and also, we’re going to the UK with the Joy Division tribute, I’m looking forward to that.
Q: If people want to find out more about you and your music, where should they go?
A: You can visit my website at http://www.ernygreen.com or go to my myspace at http://www.myspace.com/ernygreen. Also you can listen to my music on Last.FM (http://www.last.fm/music/Erny+Green)
Q: Okay a few random questions now.
Q: Are you a reader? If so, what books would you recomend?
A: Yes I’m a reader. Actually, I studied literature in college. A writer I would recommend is Louis Ferron.
Q: Day or night?
Q: Club venue or arena venue?
A: Club venue
Q: CDs or digital music?
Q: Okay, final question. What are your thoughts on people downloading music, both legally & illegally?
A: Downloading is great. It’s a great way for people to easily get to know your music. Some people like it better when they have a touchable CD and some people rather download music. Either way you gotta have something for the customer. You can’t go around it anyway.
Thank you Erny Green for the interview. It was a pleasure talking to you!