The Greenhornes opening for the White Stripes at Molson Amphitheatre (909 Lakeshore West), Friday (September 16), 8 pm. $25 to $42.40. 416-260-5600.
The Greenhornes in-store performance at Soundscapes (572 College), Friday (September 16) at 6 pm. Free. 416-537-1620.
Being known as the hottest rock 'n' roll band in Cincinatti might impress the pants off folks in Toledo and Steubenville, but the Greenhornes soon realized that breaking out of Ohio would take some connections. Cue Jack White. While some would argue that cozying up to the roughhousing White Stripes mainman isn't all that helpful - heard anything from the Von Bondies lately? - the Greenhornes are certainly benefiting from the association.
Beyond scoring the coveted opening spot on the current White Stripes tour, stopping at the Molson Amphitheatre Friday (September 16), Greenhornes drummer Patrick Keeler and bassist Jack Lawrence got the call when White was looking to hire a rhythm section to record Loretta Lynn's Van Lear Rose comeback album.
Sharing in Grammy glory was just a happy consequence of a career highlight session for Keeler, better known for his aggressive garage bashing than his roots country chops.
"When we first met Loretta, it was kinda funny," recalls Keeler, cutting out a Greenhornes logo stencil. "She gave us the once-over and had this look, like, "Hmm... I don't know if this is gonna work.' But we got along together really well and had a great time hanging out. She seemed very happy with the way the record turned out."
Similarly, the Greenhornes weren't quite sure if having White's long-time pal Brendan Benson produce their new record was the right choice. Quirky pop isn't the Greenhornes' speed. But listening to the more refined sound of the resulting East Grand Blues (V2) EP, it's clear Benson was the right man for the job.
"The change in sound wasn't necessarily intentional it's just that the songs we were writing didn't call for a lo-fi approach, which is why we wanted to try working with Brendan. I think it turned out much better than it would have because of his input.
"He was doing it as a favour, sort of an experiment. By the time his album came out, we'd already tracked a bunch of stuff that we couldn't finish before he had to leave for a tour. We thought the songs we had would make for a cool EP that we could put out ourselves, but then we got the White Stripes tour and V2 came along and wanted to release it."
The five-song East Grand Blues is just the beginning of the Greenhornes' new relationship with V2. They've already assembled a career-spanning collection of singles and EP tracks, outtakes and demos, called Sewed Soles, which the Greenhornes were planning to have out this fall.
And that would've been an ideal way to capitalize on their profile-raising contribution to the film soundtrack of Jim Jarmusch's critically acclaimed Broken Flowers. But knowing how big-label scheduling works, it'll be a miracle if V2 gets it out by February 2006.
"Jim used to come to a lot of our shows," says Keeler. "He told us that he wanted to put our song There's An End in this new film he was working on. Then he asked if we had anything instrumental, so we gave him a few things we'd recorded for this Habitat Skateboards video, which is where the track Unnatural Habitat comes from.
"He seemed excited about the project, but we had no idea at that point the film was going to star Bill Murray and Sharon Stone. It's a real privilege to be associated with a film as cool as Broken Flowers."