Q&A With Adam Green


New Yorker Adam Green started out his career as one half the Moldy Peaches, who had a surprise retroactive hit when Michael Cera and Ellen Page sang “Anyone Else But You” in 2007 film Juno. But by that time, Green was already a well-established solo artist, veering away from his old band’s endearing anti-folk territory with a style characterized by vulgar and cheeky lyrics (“Jessica,” for example, is a particularly scathing number about Jessica Simpson) while keeping listeners at an arm’s length. That’s not to say Green’s music (and life) hasn’t undergone its fair share of turbulence and change in the ensuing years, however. And he is certainly in a different place from the last time we spoke with him, as evidenced by his sixth solo album, Minor Love, released in February on Fat Possum. Recorded while living in an L.A. pool house (dubbed the Lake Room) in near-isolation, Minor Love shows us a more stripped-down, intimate side of Green. Despite currently being on tour in support of the new record, Green will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

“What Makes Him Act So Bad” (download):

“Castles And Tassels” (download):

MAGNET: Lyrically, Minor Love seems to be a bit more personal than your previous works. What brought about that change?
Green: I got schooled on the art of storytelling by these two Frenchmen who live in Colonial Williamsburg. They said my songs are too abscract and that being abstract is just kid’s stuff. They said Jackson Pollock was just a baby who liked to play with his own feces. So I started thinking about my emotional connection to the fourth Velvet Underground album and how it made me feel. I wanted to be more a goth-type person who has a lot of feelings.

What’s your deal with the word “flatulent”? It seems to show up a lot on this album.
I like how it sings. It just carries a tune in a special way. That is my favorite word. Why do you like magnets so much? What’s your deal?

How do you manage to maintain such an upbeat sound for an album that’s said to be heavily influenced by fatalism?
I’ve always been the kind of guy who whistles past the graveyard. During the recording of the album, I was in good spirits. I make a life-affirming tea sometimes on tour, which helps. I could have made the music more bleak. I want to record a heavy-metal album next.

How do you feel about being labeled “emotionally unavailable” up until now? Is that how you consciously chose to be?
No, I’ve never had a lot of control over the way I act. As my friend Dima said, “I’m very generous with my faults.” Being in a long-term relationship changed the way I talk. Having intimate conversations and things. I had never done that when I was in my early 20s.

You were pretty isolated in making this album and played most of the instruments yourself. How come? Nonetheless, you allowed some people to help out including Noah Georgeson and Rodrigo Amarante. How did they get involved with Minor Love?
I played most of the instruments on the album, but Noah and Rodrigo tracked a lot of stuff on there as well. A lot of the weird sounds on the album are made by putting a Casio keyboard through different guitar pedals. I wanted to do the album like a four-track record. I wanted it to be a collaboration with Noah more than a full-band situation. I was isolated because I was in this lonely house with no car, so it wasn’t so much my choice. I met Rodrigo through Fabrizio Moretti. We’ve never ran out of things to talk about ever since the first second that we met.

You’re currently supporting Minor Love. How does it feel to be back on the road?
I’ve already been on tour for about seven weeks. Dima Dubson has been filming the tour, so I just sort of feel like I’m in a movie. My legs hurt, I’m coughing up weird shit, but I’m doing pretty good.

To change the subject, it seems like you are becoming a bit of a style icon, between recently posing for Vogue and being labeled as “the Jewish James Dean.” Do you have an interest in fashion?
Yeah, I like to wear only bellbottoms. I like Lou Reed’s style back when he was gay. I like Serge Gainsbourg’s style. I’m not so much the Jewish James Dean as much as I’m the Woody Allen Of Music.

Speaking of other endeavors, there are pictures of some crazy papier-mâché sculptures on your blog. Can you tell us a little bit about that project?
I’m doing an art show in March of paintings and papier-mâché sculptures. For the last six months, I’ve been doing only visual art. The sculptures make it impossible to walk in my apartment. The paintings have lots of cartoon elements. I’m pretty much directly inspired by whatever exhibits come to New York City.

A couple years ago, you told MAGNET: “I was walking down 14th Street the other day and just realized that I was full of shit and that I’ve never done anything close to what I wanted to do in my life.” Do you feel more comfortable with where you are artistically now?
I feel not so negative as that statement. I’m not interested in my artistic legacy. I just want to enjoy my life.

—Emily Costantino