American group come out of hiatus...

The Greenhornes are in the almost unique position of being known to many people through a side project.

Taking a break in 2006, rhythm section Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler were enticed into joining The Raconteurs with Jack White and Brendan Benson. Widespread acclaim followed, triggering a renewed appreciation for The Greenhornes.

Formed in Cincinnati, The Greenhornes have the same rough hewed Americana which made Creedence great. Blue jean rock ‘n’ roll, they draw on a deep creative well fuelled by power pop, the blues and more. Taking an extended break, songwriter Craig Fox stepped out of the limelight just as it had begun to shine on his group. “For a while I didn’t do anything. Played in a couple of bands in Cinncinatti. We pretty much just played locally around Cinncinatti. I had written some songs for The Greenhornes and I wrote songs for Oxford Cotton” he explains.

Now in his 30s, the frontman has a young family meaning that he is reluctant to commit to extended tour. With The Greenhornes gaining respect, the band were being invited to play in locations across the globe. “We were doing a lot of touring before that and I’m not made for that” says the singer.

Working on his own, Craig Fox considered making a solo album before returning to the relationships which fire The Greenhornes. Writing material over a three year period, the singer was able to work at his leisure before introducing the songs to the rest of the band. “We had the album recorded for a couple of years” he said. “That was going to come out, then we were offered to play the New York version of All Tomorrows Parties. We decided to do that, then all this stuff came together around then. We decided to do it so it kind of just happened.”

“We really didn’t get together in that time period. We recorded it two years ago. It was finished. We slowly put it together just when everyone had time. The music was recorded in Cincinnati, relatively quickly. It was written while it was recorded which was a different way of doing it. Well kind of written – I would have ideas and Jack would have ideas. Then it would be finished in the studio. Usually we would just record what we played live. Do the vocals and the guitars a little while later. But then we were trying to get it out for a while until Third Man put it out.”

Produced by Jack White, the resulting material is gathered on ‘****’. A deliberately evasive title, the album is a blistering collection of songs hewn from the bedrock of 60s pop. Throughout, though, what impresses is the simple camaraderie, a sense of old friends coming together. “It was surprising. We kind of just got together on a weekend and played through every song we could think of. Even things we’ve never recorded” Fox explains.
“We started playing out in ’96 so we went through songs from back then which we had never recorded to see if we could do them. They hadn’t been played in like 12 years but they slipped straight back into our heads!”

Making music without any careerist ambitions, The Greenhornes seem to take life as it comes. Still not keen to be trapped in a tour / break pattern, Craig Fox is apprehensive about the strain of upcoming shows. “I’d like to do short bursts myself. I don’t know if that’s going to happen I think we’re going to Australia in January for another month. I don’t know. I’ve been used to just being home for about five years. Hopefully I’ll get used to it” he said.

“Playing live is always good. Everything else is always a drag. The waiting around. Playing live is like an energy boost or something.”

Fans expecting new material may have to wait, however. The Greenhornes have frequently taken a break in the past, and the frontman refused to be drawn on the possibility of a quick return. “I guess it depends on what everyone else is doing. I’m sure I’ll probably try to write some songs. Pile up some songs for the next album. See what happens.”

'****' is out now.

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