A self-described “musical prostitute,” Anthony Green is the brains behind emo prog-rock favorites Circa Survive and Saosin, as well as The Sound of Animals Fighting (a supergroup founded by Rx frontman Rich Balling, in which the members rock out sporting animal masks). In the midst of all this, Green has launched an impressive and prolific solo career that began with Avalon in 2008. His third solo album, Would You Still Be In Love, dropped last month, and he’s hitting the road for a tour commemorating the 10th anniversary of Avalon.
You’ve been involved with so many groups over the years, plus your solo projects. How do you manage to balance all of that?
It’s funny because I get asked this question all the time, and there really isn’t any balance to it. I’m totally back and forth, teetering on the edge of two different poles at all times. In the moment when I’m wobbling, I seem like I have a balance. And that’s where you see me; I’m in the middle. But I’m not really balancing any of it; it’s just kind of blowing up around me.
It’s been 10 years since Avalon. Looking back, how have your feelings toward the music on this record changed over the years?
It’s weird because in practicing the songs and listening to them over and over the last week or so, there’s a bunch of stuff that I feel like a dumb kid would say. Every time I play it, I think, “What a stoned dummy I was when I wrote this.” But more often than not, I feel like something resonates with me in a way now that’s so different than it was in the beginning. So the meaning of it sort of has a geography in that way, which happens with every album, no matter how long it’s been out. It’s kind of cool to be witnessing that.
What sticks out most in your mind from back when you were making the record? What do you remember fondly about that time?
A lot of those songs got written in the basement of a house that Circa Survive all lived in together. A lot of times, I’d be the only one awake and I’d be out of my mind, doing whatever, or drunk, and I would wake up with this idea. … I remember being in the room of that basement a lot. There was this little backyard area where I would sit and play.
What are you looking forward to most about this tour?
Playing with Good Old War is really fun. There are a few times when I’m going to be able to lose myself in the music. And we’re going to improvise in a couple spots during the set. That’s one of my favorite things to do, to make each show different. Then I’m also really excited to come out and play a couple of new songs after the Avalon set.
Do you have a favorite song to perform live?
No, it’s hard to pick. It depends on what’s happening at the time, and there’s so much stuff to pick from. Sometimes, you haven’t played a song in a few years and you play it, and it’s like brand new to you. But also, “Slowing Down” is a real fun song to play. “Dying to Reach You” is always really really fun, “She Loves Me So.” There is literally not a song from Avalon that I’m not excited about playing.
How do your career and touring affect your marriage and your relationships with your kids?
It’s kind of like the same way that any super busy job or career would affect any marriage or relationship. It’s very difficult to balance doing all this stuff and having something that takes so much of you on either side of the spectrum, you know? It’s very difficult. I’m lucky that I have so many committed people in my life that are willing to stick by me and make it work.
You’ve talked in the past about your struggles with addiction and mental health issues and how music and songwriting are like therapy for you. To what do you attribute your success in overcoming those obstacles? What advice do you have for others dealing with similar issues?
I think the best tool that I have in my arsenal for staying off heroin and alcohol has been people — the support system in my life. I have people that I can turn to, that I can rely on to help me make the right decisions and keep me accountable.
If there’s anything I would say to anybody else, it would just be to not be afraid to reach out to people and take other people’s advice. Don’t be too stubborn about the way you look at what you need. Be open to other people's suggestions.
Tell me about your new record, Would You Still Be In Love.
After I was done recording Pixie Queen, I went right into recording the new Circa record (The Amulet), and it was like this process with the whole band that was incredibly fulfilling. I was constantly writing, so I had all of this material that I was coming up with that would fit my vibe more. I would go play little shows on off-days of tours. I tried to record it in a way that captures more of the live feeling of the songs when I’m just jamming as opposed to something that’s compiled in a studio. This is a record for everybody that has supported me for the last 10 years — sort of just drenched in visceral honesty.
The first music video for a song on the new record (“Vera Lynn”) was just released as well. How did that concept come together?
I was on set of doing a Good Old War video for a song that they just put out. I told the director that I would love the idea of my son’s body with my head on it, I think it’d be funny. But I didn’t think we could do it without a huge CGI budget. He was like, “Dude, I can do it.” And it worked out amazing.
If you weren’t a musician, what other career path would you have chosen?
I went to school with the idea that I would become maybe a teacher or a writer or something, but I really had no idea. I was just making it up as I went along. In the back of my mind, I felt like I wanted to kind of bail on society and be somebody who could like play music on the side of the road and just live very comfortably with small means. I never really saw myself having a career making music.
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When did that change? When did you make the switch and realize that it was possible for you to make a career out of this?
I don’t really know. I think that I heard encouragement for a really long time, and it sort of changed like anything changes. As I became more responsible for more things, I had more resources at my disposal. And the more seriously I took my career, the more it paid off. And the more I guided my aesthetic the way I wanted it to be, the more it started to pay off. Everything else just sort of came along. I had very little guidance and mostly just kind of went with the flow.
What’s next for Saosin?
We’re working on maybe doing some new music next year and playing some shows. It’s been hectic getting things on the calendar because those guys are super busy. But as soon as we find the time, we’re gonna start playing. We’ll see.
Is there anything else you want to share?
I want everyone to come to the show early. Make sure they see the first band, Found Wild. It’s two of the members from Good Old War who are incredible. And it’s really, really good music. It’s super laid-back, and I think everybody’s gonna love it.
Anthony Green plays Saturday at Trees with special guests Found Wild and Good Old War. Tickets are $20.50.