The heart of rock and roll continues to beat thanks to the heavy hitting, St. Charles, Missouri bred quintet known as Greenwheel, whose major label debut Soma Holiday (Island) is loaded with rollicking sounds, catchy melodies, and occasional bits of unrelenting bombast. Over the course of the last several months, the record's kept Greenwheel on the road with the likes of Default, Hoobastank, Our Lady Peace and Simple Plan, providing the outlet for members to continually hone their craft. That road time provided a rapid maturation process in the relatively young members (all of whom are in their early twenties) with their increased confidence and delivery dynamism apparent from merely last summer's House of Blues gig to a recent Double Door performance. Here's a bit more about that evolution process and what fans can expect in a subsequent effort from this budding alternative outfit in a pre-show conversation with singer Ryan Jordan and guitarist Andrew Dwiggins:
Livewire: You guys have really been road warriors over the last couple of years. When exactly did that start?
Jordan: The label put us on the road pretty quick after recording because they knew we would have just went insane if we had to sit around and do nothing. It was great because we made a lot of fans.
Livewire: So there was a bit of a buzz before the record came out?
Jordan: Exactly. When we went to towns, we already had a bit of a fan base with them. As we got to tour through again with some great bands, it only grew.
Livewire: Give me the roster of the groups you've gone out with so far.
Jordan: We started out with Flickerstick and that was as soon as the VH1 show ended. We got lucky and got the opening spot. Then we went out with our label mates Injected, and then we teamed up a second time with them, along with Default. Then Our Lady Peace with Audiovent and Ash, and Hoobastank and Blindside with Hometown Heroes. We did another week with Our Lady Peace then Saliva, and that brings us to now.
Dwiggins: We've had a lot of different rock bands to learn from, so if nothing else, this deal has been a huge learning experience and the chance for us to grow as a band. The record's just going to happen more naturally.
Livewire: Did you struggle creatively to get the ball rolling at the beginning of the Soma Holiday sessions?
Jordan: I was really into music and really enjoyed singing, but we were 18 when we started so I know there are ways we can grow next time out. Where we grew up, we never dove into the whole experience of music and other genres outside of the rock we all grew up listening to. We started touring with other bands who introduced us to other bands in different genres, weather that be jazz or whatever. Getting to see how other bands that have been playing for years- like Our Lady Peace- taught us a lot. The fact that Soma Holiday didn't blow up is fine because we're very aware and educated about all the different outlets and styles that are out there and the rest of the ropes when it comes to the music industry.
Livewire: Did your original perceptions of the music biz get fulfilled or were you disappointed how it turned out to really be?
Dwiggins: In a way I thought it was a lot more fun- especially touring- than people had described to me. As time goes by, it gets increasingly harder, just physically on your body, but it only helps us as a band get better.
Jordan: The best thing to watch was our parents and friends who after we got signed still kind of had that wide-eyed view of what we were doing. As they came on the road and saw what we were doing and saw us in our van and saw us backstage sitting around doing nothing, it was funny to kind of watch them react. It's funny because for a lot of them, it wasn't how they perceived it. Now our moms aren't concerned that we're hanging out with 400 girls backstage and drugs and alcohol everywhere. They've seen it firsthand now.
Livewire: Give me a bit of background on how your family and friends have supported you.
Jordan: They literally travel all over the country to see us. It's incredibly inspiring to have families that love us and support what we're doing.
Livewire: Were they ever skeptical that you could actually pull off a record deal at first?
Jordan: Of course. They thought we were going to be millionaires and buying them houses after we got it, which was obviously very not true. All in all they were happy for us. They knew it was something we all wanted to do.
Livewire: Let's talk about more about the Holiday record. In a nutshell, what were you trying to get out of the record?
Jordan: When the record was first released, we had the initial hope to be on the radio, be heard, tour the country and have some finances to support ourselves with. As time went on, it became a box of memories of where we were throughout the last two and a half years as we wrote for that record.
Livewire: What do you mean by box of memories?
Jordan: Just like the themes of the songs and all the emotions we were going through. We had a lot of big giant changes, from living at home to going to school to moving to Nashville to make the record.
Livewire: One of the tunes on the record that really struck me on the record about growing up was "Faces," which thematically kind of reminded me about Spingsteen's "Glory Days"- The whole idea of living on past dreams rather than striving for new ones.
Jordan: We were writing in a town where our producer Malcolm Springer [Full Devil Jacket, Spike 1000, Liquid Gang] had grown up and we were at a bar the night before. All the locals were there hanging out with Malcolm and all their old buddies. And all this girl kept talking about was 'I was a prom queen when I was in high school and I rode around in the back of a car and everyone liked me so much.' She was one of those arrogant, ego maniac people who had probably never been out of this town in her whole life that thinks she's the bomb. That's a really bad way to live, but an inspiring way to get my point across in the song- walking around in circles with a never changing view on life.
Livewire: What are your favorite tracks on the record?
Dwiggins: I'm always torn between "Radiance" and "The End" but more consistently it's "Radiance." It's a song that's pretty much learning to love yourself and who you are as an individual as opposed to trying to find your niche with a certain group. Just be cool with yourself and the appreciate the beauty and the differences of others.
Jordan: I would have to say "Identity," which is sort of along the same lines but more aggressive when it comes to that issue. It talks about those people in your life that try and prevent you from becoming you who want to be. People telling you that you can't do something- especially in this industry- can really weigh you down. In the end, the song points to your internal power to not let that affect the way you go after your dream.
Livewire: So what's going through your minds as you're preparing to go into the studio for take two?
Dwiggins: More than anything we want to make sure that the record is really unified and that everybody is happy with all the songs. We definately want to have several different dynamics, whereas the first record is a little more crude. It has a certain level of soft and a certain level of hard. We want to broaden that horizon so that we can make those emotions speak a little more clearly.
Jordan: I don't want it to be so polished and clean. I want it to be a little more raw sounding because we really are proud of what we do live and the emotion we put into it.
Livewire: What are the differences between the current record and the next in terms of where that bands's at sonically?
Jordan: If you're talking a few bands, I'd say a bit of the heavy like Tool with the more experimental like Radiohead. We're also looking to a lot of indie bands whose structure is so free and not formulated. We want to block out those guidelines of 'this is how you have to write songs.'
Livewire: Any final thoughts about what's to come before we wrap up?
Jordan: Soma Holiday was definitely us getting used to just what it was like to record a project and getting used to working with each other. It was like a coming of age for us in every aspect, so now that we've grown to that level, we're really excited to get back in the game and map the next record out.