If you missed The Greencards show at The Mint last week, then you missed one of the most intimate and scintillating live performances in Los Angeles so far this summer. This Nashville-based quartet, led by Aussie ex-pats Carol Young and Kym Warner, take the audience on a rollicking 90 minute set, ranging from thoughtful newgrass songwriting, to quiet covers (their rendition of Cheap Trick’s I Want You to Want Me was so heartbreaking and simple– took me by complete surprise), to fantastic, hardcore roots jams. And after talking with mandolin player Kym, I found out they’re not only ridiculously nice and musically talented, but have pretty good taste in scotch to boot…
Isthis your first time performing in Los Angeles?
Kym: This is our first solo show in LA– weopened six years ago at the Roxy. Plus we’ve been out for the Grammys a few times, which is fun;and we always have a stopover when we’re flying to and from Australia.
Whatis your origin as a band and how did you get into bluegrass?
Kym: Well the Greencards formed in Austin abouteight years ago. Carol and I areoriginally from Australia, but as a group we started playing locally in Texasfive or six nights a week. Thoselocal gigs led to festivals, which took us to bigger venues across thecountry. We’ve spent the lastseven years touring extensively. Both Carol and I came from families that were into roots and Americana andbluegrass music. I really got started because of what I heard in that genre and what my dad was playing.
Howwould you describe the Greencards’ music and musical influences?
Kym: Initially I’d say we’re more newgrass thanbluegrass—we’ve never had a five string banjo in our lineup. Bluegrass infused progression I guess you could say. The songs are what are most important. We’re into Dylan and the Pretenders and Tom Petty and Fleetwood Mac morethan anything else. But we’ve never thought of ourselves strictly as a bluegrass band. I look at great Texan musicians like Lyle Lovett, Steve Earle, etc… greatsongwriters writing about simple things.
Wheredoes The Brick Album come from?
Kym: It’s the Greencards next step—we’ve becomemore comfortable with our writing and who we are. I feel really good about the songs on this record and wepushed ourselves really hard. There’s much more of a live feel than we’ve had on anyother recording. When we recorded this album wewere all in one room, just a few feet away from each other. Very little overdubbing. Great way to make a record. We don’t want it to just sound like alive gig—I mean, you need that energy but you still need it to sound good. Justin Niebank was a great producer. We’re doing this totally on our own—our ownlabel—and that’s what enabled us to get two of our ultimate heroes—Sam Bush and Vince Gill—to comein and record with us. They’re ahuge reason why Carol and I do even what we do.
What’syour favorite venue?
Kym: We’ve been to the Staples Center a fewtimes for the Grammys. I go to theStaples Center and I just can’t believe a sports team fills that place three times aweek! But it sounds good in theretoo, which is rare. Largo is agreat little place. I love thewest coast in general. There’s amystique about playing in LA for me—almost like NY—an energy and just somethingabout it. And a rare thing for usis we actually have a few days off before our show to explore!
Whatare your tour essentials?
Kym: Obviously we take a lot of music withus. iPods and Books. Always have swimming trunks. Nothing crazy. As long as we have our van, we’re okay. We’re just a four piece band so we’repretty self contained. And I alwayshave my mandolin with me—I made the mistake last year—never again.
Whatis your favorite drink?
Kym: I’m a scotch drinker. Any number of single malt scotch isgood for me. The McKellan 15 yearis a good one. Give me a couple ofice cubes in a glass and I’m good.
Whatare your current obsessions?
Kym: I’ve been obsessed with Leonard Cohen inthe past few years. And I’vealways been a massive Tom Petty fan. I love Manchester United—never miss a game for that. Even if I’m driving the van on tour, someone is textingme the scores.
Whatdo you love most about being on the west coast?
Kym: The climate’s great. There’s always something to do. Being from Australia, I’d be at thebeach every day. It’s the closestthing to going home—like-minded people, relaxed atmosphere, all of it. I just love the scene in general.
The Greencards’ new disc, The Brick Album, has been widely acclaimed, and was recently featured in Time Magazine. You can buy the album through iTunes or the band’s website— or if you’re lucky, you can still catch them on tour throughout the US this summer.