By Rich Henrich
Back in 2009 a group of friends and back-up musicians came together in Oahu, Hawaii to form The Green to record a few songs and have a little fun. However, their self-titled album release earned the band both critical and commercial acclaim. A few tracks and some fun turned into an iTunes award for Best Reggae Album of the year in 2010. “We were all friends in Hawaii in bands of various levels of popularity, backing up bands from the mainland. We just decided to be our own band and see where it would go,” says band member Zion Thompson.
Soon after realizing something special had formed, The Green, boarded a plane and set their sights for a heavy touring cycle on the mainland. It didn’t take them long to land a record deal with Easy Star Records and support acts like Damian Marley, Iration, & Rebelution. The band has played Vans Warped Tour, Sierra Nevada World Music Festival and California Roots Festival, earning another top hour for sophomore album Ways & Means, hitting number one on iTunes and Billboard. I recently caught up with founding member Zion Thompson.
CVW: What do you enjoy most about touring?
Zion Thompson: “Appreciating how we are, you now, the culture of the island influences us. We’re slightly different and we can see how people receive us as well. It’s new for them. We’re really blessed and thankful we can spread the music and the vibe and energy of Hawaii. We like to say we are spreading the “Aloha!” We are proud of our music and our culture and love to share it.”
CVW: What makes your blend of Reggae different?
Thompson: “Musically whether it is Jamaican or styles from the Virgin Islands, West Coast or Dance Hall, we come from a place with a lot of mixed races and lots of different flavors. We blend that all with a special aloha vibe and put that into our music.”
CVW: Is it difficult to tour with so many members?
Thompson: “Well, we are nine guys from a little island. It costs so much for us to all leave to go on a tour. Put them somewhere else and we still carry the island with us. For us touring is really comfortable because we are all so close. It can be hard to figure out everyone’s personalities, like when they just need to be left alone! But we are all one family and we take care of each other. We get how the work flows and even when it’s a little rough, someone is always bringing the sunshine!”
CVW: What do you love about touring?
Thompson: “We love to do our best with every opportunity we have to get up on stage and even when we are not on stage but just mixing with the crowd and fans or just driving from town to town.”
CVW: You have a new album dropping soon, Marching Orders. What can we expect?
Thompson: “We’ve been working on it for a while. A year and a half ago, it wasn’t what it is now. We went through a lot of changes. About two thirds of the original songs remain but there’s been growth as a band and as musicians. We are bringing a lot of different sounds from rock to dancehall. As musicians, we wanted to stretch out and not be so pigeon-holed. We have 14 solid tracks that we are happy with.”
CVW: What is the significance of the name of the album and title track?
Thompson: “It’s a little bit of a militant mindset of having your “marching orders” to be tough, to stay strong and to take what the world throws at you and keep going. Busy Signal is featured on that track, too. It can be tough but we have to keep marching on.”
CVW: What are you looking forward to at Desert Oasis?
Thompson: “It will be good to connect with friends and definitely see Slightly Stoopid and Marley, a lot of great talent we are fortunate to play with. We are fired up and bringing a lot of energy and we will definitely spread the aloha!”