Originally Published In The Daily Free Press on 4/7/11
A few weeks ago Common Ground’s Lucien Flores talked over phone with Patrick Keeler whose band – the three-piece garage rockers The Greenhornes – played Brighton Music Hall last night. The Greenhornes’ sound drips of their influences (those quintessential 1960s bands such as The Who, The Kinks, The Stones, The Animals, and others that defined a generation) and their latest album, ★★★★ (4 Stars), dropped late last year to positive reception. The band is composed of guitarist/vocalist Craig Fox, bassist Jack Lawrence, and drummer Patrick Keeler.
Keeler is the band’s impressive drummer and even if you don’t recognize the name you’ll be sure to his recognize his work. Aside from founding The Greenhornes in 1996, Keeler and fellow bandmate Jack Lawrence comprise the rhythm section of Jack White and Brendan Benson’s supergroup, The Raconteurs. Keeler, Lawrence, and White also collaborated on Loretta Lynn’s Grammy-winning album, Van Lear Rose, and Wanda Jackson’s recent The Party Ain’t Over. We at Common Ground are very thankful that Keeler who, even while suffering from a cold, sacrificed his time to answer a few of our questions. He seemed equally as appreciative for the chance of being interviewed and came off like a genuinely nice and down-to-earth person.
Lucien Flores: ★★★★ was the Greenhorns’ release after a pretty sizable hiatus. [In fact, ★★★★ is the band’s first studio album in eight years] What were those first rehearsals after being apart?
Patrick Keeler: It was pretty amazing. We didn’t really rehearse so much…to make the record. In the studios we got shows booked when we were ready to put out the record. Those rehearsals were pretty amazing. Just kind of going back to everything we’ve ever done since 1996 and how easily a bunch of the old stuff kind of came out and how hard it was to do the new stuff.
LF: You guys formed in ‘96. What’s it like playing with the same two guys for so long? What’s your relationship like now and just how much have you grown together as musicians?
PK: As musicians we’ve all really grown up together and just kind of play off each other, listen to each other, and make each other better for sure. You grow up and you know each other a little better and it’s going well.
LF: I think it’s pretty safe to say that The Greenhornes and The Raconteurs have this 60s/70s influence. How did you yourself get introduced to the era of music?
PK: I think it was just growing up; where I grew up and the kind of music my dad listened to and my older brother listened to and it was kind of discovering what you like. I guess I only liked that kind of music. That was what I had most access to and I guess it stuck with me better. We all a kind of similar taste in music and that’s how we all got together in the first place.
LF: Whom do you consider your biggest influences in terms of drummers?
PK: Hmm, I don’t know. I’ve got a lot of them. Probably Buddy Rich or Mitch Mitchell.
LF: We’ve been talking about the music from the 60s/70s, however, what contemporary music to you listen to?
PK: I like Dungen a lot…it’s a Swedish band, called like “Dungeon”… sort of… but [in] Swedish (laughs). I like them. I like a lot of stuff. I listen to a lot of stuff
LF: What do you find yourself doing when you come to Boston? Are there any spots you tend to frequent or is it different every time?
PK: I’m dying to really try a Wagamama there. I want to do a general compare and contrast. That’s like the food that saves you when you’re in Europe…in the UK…and now they have them in Boston. I would love to try that.
LF: You’ve been very busy over the last couple years. You and Jack Lawrence played in the Raconteurs and played on Loretta Lynn’s [Van Lear Rose] and Wanda Jackson’s [The Party ‘Aint Over]. How do you manage all these projects?
PK: Well, it’s a lot easier than you think. You just show up and play (laughs). But I’ve been fortunate to get to work with some very cool people.
LF: Were you yourself influenced by their music styles?
PK: I think you always pick up something from whatever you do. Anytime you record something new with somebody else, you’re going to pick up something.
LF:Did you find that The Greenhornes find a heightened popularity with these other projects?
PK: Yeah we’ve benefitted from all of us doing different things over the years. Getting back together, kind of doing it the way we would traditional we would do it, which was, we never had an idea of how to do this stuff (record or anything). It’s all trial by error, you know?
LF: How’s the fan support been for your first tour in a while and your first album in years?
PK: Oh it’s been great man. It was cool in a way that we took a break because now there’s people that were way too young or that didn’t know us before, that never saw us, that are coming out. It’s been really good.
LF: During your hiatus, did it ever look like the Greenhornes were done or was there always a belief that you guys would come back and finish the album?
PK: Well we were always working on our record. We’re not quitting at that point, it’s like why quit if we’ve been a band this long?
LF: Do the Raconteurs have any future plans?
PK: Yeah, I’m sure we do somewhere down the line. I’m sure we’ll do something some day.
LF: You’ve talked about how you guys were working on ★★★★ for a while. What were you guys try to do differently on this album compared to any of your earlier albums?
PK: Well we weren’t trying to do anything. We recorded this one differently by kind of writing the songs in the studio. Before we had already had songs ready to go and we knocked ‘em out really quick. This one, we just took our time and worked the songs in the studio. It probably shows its difference that way.
LF: Jack Lawrence makes his vocal debut for The Greenhornes on this album [on the songs “Go Tell Henry”], now, do you ever possibly see yourself doing that down that line?
PK: I don’t know. At the moment I can barely do a speech because I’m sick (laughs). I don’t think so. I don’t know. I have no idea.