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This Is Northern New South Wales

Dallas Green – City & Colour

Dallas Green has the voice of an angel.

City & Colour – aka Dallas Green – have just recently released a fifth studio album, u. The album is another representation of just how talented a vocalist and songwriter he is, though distinctly different in mood and feeling from his past efforts. The opening track “Woman” is a nine-ish minute journey in itself, very effectively drawing your attention in to gain exclusive rights to it throughout the series of musical pieces to come.

Post release, Dallas was in Australia performing a series of intimate acoustic shows for a very lucky few fans, and taking time out here and there to speak about the album.

City & Colour are one of the major draw-cards for Bluesfest 2016, so we spent a bit of time getting chatty with Dallas about the new album and his time in Australia.

CG – Hey Dallas!

DG – Hey, how are you?

CG – Good good. Thanks for taking the time to talk today. We’re obviously pretty keen to see you for Bluesfest next year, but speaking to you this early is a bit of a bonus.

DG – I’m glad to be a bonus

CG – Cool, you are. So how’s the country been for you on this trip?

DG – It’s been great, I’ve only been here for a short run, just a couple of days in and out, but I don’t think that I’ve ever been let down by this place so I’m excited.

CG – You’ve been plugging the new album, and you did a series of intimate shows, small unplugged shows, how were they?

DG – Yeah I did one in Sydney and then in Melbourne

CG – Fantastic. How has the response been to the album during those shows?

DG – It’s good, most people I talk to and have spoken with seem to like it. It’s cool getting to sing these new songs and trying to figure out how they’re going to play live, but yeah, it’s been good so far.

CG – Are these your first shows performing the new album?

DG – We played a few shows in Canada and a couple of new songs in there, but have just started playing the new stuff yeah.

CG – I read a bit about this new album, it’s obviously very different to the last which is standard as an artist that keeps progressing, but the way you’ve played with your band and written this one with them has had an effect on the output of the music and created more of a “full band” album. So you’re playing these shows without the full band, how have you found it performing the songs by yourself?

DG – Well the good thing is that my songs sort of start me and a guitar – whether I keep it that way or bring in extra musicians – so playing them by myself is sort of like bringing it back to where I started

CG – Can you describe how it feels to share these new songs with a smaller audience in an acoustic setting?

DG – It’s fun playing the small shows because it reminds me of how I started when I started doing the City & Color thing. Obviously no-one knew who I was so the gigs I would play were quite small and quite intimate – and obviously it’s grown to quite bigger audiences – but it’s nice to take a step back in a way and have it almost be like a little chat as opposed to a big rock concert.

CG – When you’re playing these smaller ones – obviously you’re a lot closer to your audience and you can connect with people a lot more intimately – can you read them? Would you say you can get the feedback from the audience in a lot more of a genuine manner in these kind of gigs?

DG – Yeah, definitely. I mean, sometimes the lights are so bright on your face that you can’t really see much out into the crowd, but sometimes it’s nice to have the people right up there that are either singing along or are moved by the song. Hopefully they’re not just staring and watching the show behind the phone.

CG – Has there been any phones for these shows?

DG – Oh yeah, definitely.

CG – That’s not ok

DG – It’s part of normal day life now though

CG – It’s a shame hey. Let’s talk about the album. I had a good, good listen, it’s quite different to the last album and you can definitely hear the influence of the band in this one. I was curious – it’s been ten years since you released the first City & Color album – I’m not going to put words in your mouth but to me this album feels really ‘settled’ and really ‘whole’, from the time you start listening, through to the end. Do you feel like City & Color has kind of settled down and found a bit of a place where everything sits right?

DG – Yeah I think that’s a good way to put it. I think the reason I started calling it City & Color and not just Dallas Green was so it could be whatever I wanted it to be at that moment whether it was just me by myself or me with a band and I think that right now this is to me, where I feel that City & Color is. I feel like it is me with these four guys playing new songs y’know? Maybe that’s sort of inherent in the songs as well, it just sort of feels comfortable like a safe place to be.

CG – Mmmm. I definitely got that impression listening to it a few times, and in comparison to the prior works. How do you feel about albums, either thrown together haphazardly or very specifically crafted in a direct order to really create a whole piece rather than just a collection of works. What is your approach to an album when you decide which songs are going where? What about the opener, what about the ending? Have you got any insight into that?

DG – My goal when I make a record is I definitely want to make a record front to back, y’know. So the whole sequencing of the songs is very important to me. The flow, I want it to flow and kind of tell a story in a way. I kind of just sit down and listen to all the songs and usually right away there are a few that stand out and you know where they’re going to go, whether that’s the opener or the closer. For me, it’s the middle of the record that’s the hardest part to sequence. You want to keep people interested so they’ll listen to the whole thing, so it’s all about trying to find the right vibe I guess.

CG – How would you describe the vibe of this album?

DG – I like to think that the first half is this kind of slow build into the second half after Wasted Love when Runaway starts, that would be side two for me and I think that it kicks into a higher happier gear in a way, so I really do think it works as two sides. To me, Friends – the second last song on the record – is the last song, and Blood is sort of like this kind of, it’s like the credits are rolling in my mind, y’know?

CG – What about Vinyl plans, so you can split it into an A & B side?

DG – Yeah, they’re out! We did a pretty cool sort of limited edition one, but it’s two records.

CG – While we’re speaking about the structure of the album which is quite fascinating; your opening song woman is a 9 minute ballad of sorts, I suppose. That’s a pretty bold move to open an album with quite a long track. What was the feeling behind that one?

DG – Well to be honest with you, it just didn’t make sense anywhere else on the record. When I wrote it I kind of just assumed it would be the last song because it’s sort of epic and slow, but when I started again when I started putting the sequence together it just made sense to be first. To me it’s like an introduction to the album. Obviously it’s a nine minute song and all that but to me it doesn’t feel like that, it just feels like a nice introduction

CG – I felt that way too. It draws you in quite a lot and prepares you for the rest. So what’s next for City and Color?

DG – There’s a four week American tour to finish off the rest of this year, and next year I think we’re going to tour some more in the states in January and we’ll go over to Europe and the UK, and then Australia.

CG – Bluesfest, good stuff.

DG – Yep.

DG – No problem, thank-you.