The Hang: New, Old-School Rock.
This is a combination of two interviews of Trey Green, October 2010 and January 2012
[Int] Tell us about the band name, The Hang.
[Trey] Haha – we were over at a friend’s studio, and it got a little rowdy since we…well, we don’t just sit there quietly and wait for something to happen. Someone was asking about the band, about how we’re always fucking around, but somehow get so much done (The Hang recorded two records, two singles, 14 videos and a short film in 2011, all un-released at the time of this interview), and Sos goes, “Well, man, it’s not like we think about it as rehearsal or work or anything. It’s…it’s just a good hang.” And the guy goes, “So you guys are all about the hang.” And I thought, yes, yes we are.
Why did you change the name from Trey Green to The Hang?
Oh man, easy: I got really tired of getting up on stage and going, “and we are…ME!” Just not my style. I’ve always intended to have a band name, just never fell in love with one until now. This name means a lot. The whole band should have equal attention so the songs are the main feature, so the audience can focus on experiencing the music and not have their attention being pulled towards single person. That’s like going to a game and watching one player the whole time. And imagine if the team was named after that one player, and that player had to announce the team name, his name, at every game. See? Lame. So now I get to proudly announce that we’re the fucking HANG. YES! We are The Hang!
How did the band become a band?
We really lucked out putting the band together. When I moved to LA in 2010, a friend and great bass player re-introduced me to Jamie Douglass, a killer drummer, who was available. And then through John Spiker from Tenacious D, I found Sos (Jon Sosin), who’s just ridiculous on guitar. Sos brought Nick in for auditions on bass after a few other players…it all fell right into place. Everyone’s a good hang. Doesn’t usually happen that way. Rare, and very lucky.
In the first few months of 2012, The Hang will release two full, new albums, at least twelve videos, a movie…how did you produce so much content so quickly?
We work together really well and stay nimble. Having extremely talented, experienced musicians on board makes it possible; the guys are really, really good. And we don’t need nearly as many people as other bands do; I write everything, am the manager, the producer, I create and direct all of the video content, web content, merch, and I’m one of the guitar players and the lead singer. Having one person in charge of all that greatly simplifies the process. So when we drop into a studio for a couple of days, we already know what we want. If there’s any down time, I go into another room a write a new song so we can keep working. And everything is set-up ahead of time so that when it’s time to record, the work is done; we can just play, enjoy ourselves, and try new parts. It’s a lot of work for me, but I don’t mind…in fact I love doing all the work…and no one else seems to mind, either.
All that means that we’re unusually productive – we can record six songs in six hours and have time to mess around. We had 41 minutes left of studio time one day and decided to try some covers. In 41 minutes, we nailed two songs we’d never even played before: King of Pain by The Police and The Jack by AC/DC. We did the Jack in a single, live take – set up the amps, lines, guitars, mics, headphones, monitors, cameraman, ProTools session, had a drink, took a smoke break, ate some pizza, listened to the song once in the control room, printed out the lyrics, and recorded it well. All in 17 minutes, total. And no one was even close to sober. That’s only possible with a killer team. But I guess there are always, uh…distractions.
I’ve heard several different versions of how you recorded The Awesomeness. What actually happened?
Again, uber-lucky. This is before our current band; I was on my own. I had all the songs in my head, all finished, so it was just a matter of working with the best musicians possible to bring it all to life. My close friend, JD McDonnell, is married to a girl whose cousin is married to a drummer, and she wanted me to meet him. Little did I know he was the drummer for Bad Religion and Tenacious D. So suddenly we’re back stage at a Pearl Jam show in Chicago, I meet Brooks, he listens to some of the rough tracks, agrees to work with me, and the next thing I know, we’re laying down drums in Tenacious D’s private studio in North Hollywood. Then I met John Spiker, John Konesky…it was an insane sequence of luck, and they liked the music enough to want to work with me. And Pete Moshay, who mixes and masters for me, works for Hall & Oates full time, so he’s got an insane ear, incredible experience, and a phenomenal arsenal of tools at his disposal. And everyone’s cool, so it stays loose.
How did you come up with the name The Awesomeness? Do people take it the wrong way?
Hmm. I don’t really know how people take it. But it came about while we were recording – I didn’t know how to communicate professionally with Brooks, Spiker, Jeff Norberg, Moshay…I play by ear and write everything in my head, so I never learned the lingo, chord names, not even the string names until recently. So when I wanted a Keith Moon-style, over-the-top drum fill or a gnarly guitar part, I’d just say, “it’s time for the awesomeness.” I didn’t know what else to say. These guys are all, “so you want the B7 to come in on the three or the one?,” and I’d have absolutely no idea what they meant. So I’d just say something true, but idiotic, like “this is where it should sound totally awesome.” And to the band, there are so many moments where all the parts come together, it just made sense to call the whole thing The Awesomeness. There were a few names in the running – Chairman of the Bored and Playola…the next record will be called Playola. Love that name.
What’s with the dog?
What do you mean, ‘what’s with the dog?’ That’s my dog! Rowdy. He’s the greatest dog in the galaxy. That’s a real photo, you know, on the cover of The Awesomeness. Nobody believes that. We set up a white background with a glossy floor, put on a Ween song that Rowdy howls along to every time I play it, and that was it. Totally un-altered, we didn’t even saturate the colors or anything – that’s a totally raw photo on the cover of the Awesomeness. Plus I read this book, Indie Survival Guide or something like that, and they said you need a mascot. That’s crazy. Name a band that has a mascot. I can’t name one. But, I had already put Rowdy on the cover of the album, and the back, and the inside, so I thought, what the hell, Rowdy can be our mascot. And he’s totally into it, although I think he’s a little tired of the old songs.
What do you think people will think of your music, of the new music?
Oh holy hell I have no concept of that. Hmm. You know, when I handed people the first record, it was, “here you go, I’m proud of this but I have no idea if it’s any good, no idea if you’ll like any of it.” And frankly, I didn’t care. With The Awesomeness, it was more like, “here you go, if you don’t find something on here that you like, then I think that you’re boring.” That’s probably not cool to say, but it’s my honest answer. Now with Playola, we can all hand the record to anyone, look that person in the eye, and tell them that if they like rock’n’roll, that they’re going to want to listen to us. And that’s what we do. It’s infinitely easier to promote it when you mean it.
What’s your goal with the band?
Step-by-step. The next step is to play gigs for new fans in new places as we release all of this new material. We’ve got a LOT in store for 2012. 100% of this is about everyone having a great time: the band, the fans, anyone listening, and that’s the way it is now. We’re entirely focused on that. Right now, we’ve got the content and talent of a major label band, but we’re totally independent. By June, you’ll be able to watch something like 20 videos, listen to four records, watch our film…that’s more than most bands in Rolling Stone. So it’s finally time to focus on the good stuff – getting out there and playing live around the country.
Who do you guys sounds like?
Oh man I genuinely have no idea. I wish we sounded like Tenacious D and Foo Fighters, but people say we sound like all sorts of bands…I’m not sure about any of it. It’s really tough to hear yourself as someone else when you wrote all of the music and you aren’t trying to copy anyone. I actually love asking people that question, because everyone’s stumped. We aren’t re-inventing the wheel, and in fact we’re really paying homage right now to a genre that’s “buried under a pile of shit,” as Dave Grohl said last week. But not a single person has been able to think of who we sound like and who I sing like. It would help to know.
Okay then who are the biggest influences?
Many, many influences. My tops are OLD bands like Bon Scott’s AC/DC, The Who, Joan Jett, but then also stuff like Monty Python, Weird Al, Tenacious D. It’s probably a huge list for every song we do, rarely a singular comparison. There’s so much good music out there. Every time I say, “this song is influenced by so and so,” the response is, “well that’s really cool, but this doesn’t sound anything like those guys.” Which again, is just how it goes.
You allude to drinking and partying in a lot of your songs, an atmosphere of crazy behavior. How much of this is an act?
Well, I mean, it’s all real, but it feels uber-douchey to try and prove anything to people, so I avoid that. Make of it what you will – it’s art. I write songs quickly, off the top of my head, with lyrics that are just what I’d say anyway. I think Glee sucks. I miss rock. I drink too much. I have girl problems. Same as everyone else, which is why I think the music is so relatable. Okay, well, okay, maybe not the same as everyone else, I guess there are some extremes. I have some issues, sure. I mean, this all started with my friend Chris and I recording music in the middle of the night while we were on a two-week bender. I remember one moment in there when we somehow couldn’t tell if it was day or night. After that sesh (session), the music took on a life of its own. People were genuinely into it, asking me to send them tracks, getting hired to play at parties, weird emails from strangers and all that. I got up on stage in New York with another band, started playing one of my songs, looked down and saw a whole crew of blond girls singing every word. That blew my mind. It honestly took a lot for me to think, “People like this stuff?” That happened over and over, so I started taking it seriously, and for me, that meant not being ashamed of any personal expression. It’s all personal. Even the Shepherd’s Pie Song. I love shepherd’s pie. I got into it for me, but now it’s turned into something way, way bigger.