ADAM GREEN with FRONTIER INDEX at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), tonight (Thursday, January 22). $8.50. 416-598-4753. Rating: NNNNN
Hobbies have been good to 21 year-old New York singer/songwriter Adam Green. His current ones include studying etiquette, playing new-school board games Cranium and Guesstures and viewing the films of Nick Nolte - in particular the hard-partying football drama North Dallas Forty. But it was his childhood pastimes that led him down the musical path to writing catchy songs whose wordplay rivals Stephen Malkmus's.
"When I was a kid, I collected stamps," he tells me woozily via telephone on a Saturday morning. "Then I got into baseball cards and comic books. After that, I got into programming computers.
"I think that kind of discipline isn't that different from songwriting, if you try to be creative with it. And then I found music."
His musical deflowering occurred when he played the tuba in school at age 8. It was an experience that shaped him as much as his later interest in Nirvana and the Grateful Dead, whom he thought of as righteous and pretty mystical, respectively.
"Even though it was school band music, I think the melodies really stuck with me, and I still pull from the original pool of school music when I'm writing songs."
This explanation makes sense when you listen to Green's most recent album, the string-backed Friends Of Mine, on Rough Trade/Sanctuary, and is even more apt considering Green's work with the lovable (or hateable) Moldy Peaches.
Some people dismiss Green's occasionally goofily twisted lyrics about having sex with no-legged girls and ignore his more affecting and charming lines.
"It happens," he says. "They make a snap judgment, stop listening and throw away the key. I don't think that humour invalidates what I'm doing. It belongs in songs as much as any other sentiment. But my songs have many different elements. I let my emotions drive the songwriting."
Another pleasant thing about Green's songs is that they're often two minutes long or under, yet they're very complete. Green shared the secret of his compact songsmithery.
"The reason why a lot of people's songs are longer is that they repeat the chorus one or two times at the end, and then they add a solo. I think that adds an extra minute at least. My songs aren't any faster or more uptempo than other people's. People who like my work recognize that my songs are leaner."
The floppy-haired moppet also has some love for Canada.
"I like Toronto and Montreal. The Hidden Cameras and Royal City are also good. I like the glass floor in the CN Tower."