From Joyce’s Dublin to Springsteen’s Asbury Park, environments have always had a massive influence on writers and musicians’ creative output. Such is also the case with singer/songwriter Anthony Green’s debut solo release Avalon. Recorded last March over an eight-day period with Green and some friends at his fiancé’s parents’ house in the sleepy beach town of Avalon, New Jersey, the album spans Green’s adolescence and adulthood and shows him at both his most visceral and vulnerable. “We had a short timeline [to record this album] and that’s the way I used to work back in the day; you’d only have three days in the studio so you had to plan out everything and then just go for it,” Green explains. “I’ve been wanting to record these songs for the past two years and this was the perfect time and place to make it happen.”
Although the 26-year-old Green is best known as the lead singer for the Philadelphia-based progressive punk act Circa Survive, he’s also an accomplished instrumentalist in his own right and has been penning the songs that would eventually become Avalon consistently for the past decade. “Some of these songs are brand new, but most of them are really old,” Green explains. “For one of the versions of ‘Dear Child (I’ve Been Dying To Reach You)’ that’s on this record, I wrote the lyrics for it four or five years ago and the music even years before that,” he elaborates, adding that many of these songs were composed while he was still a junior in high school. Although Green initially intended many of these songs to be used in Circa Survive, ultimately he decided that in order to fully realize his artistic vision he would have to tackle these tracks on his own—a decision that was due to communicative issues as much as they were musical.
“I think at the time that I was writing a lot of these songs I wasn’t necessarily able to articulate to [Circa Survive] all the stuff musically I wanted to do with them,” Green explains. “I don’t know chords; I don’t know scales; I can’t talk to anybody about time signatures, so I couldn’t really explain how I wanted these to sound without doing something ridiculous like humming something out that doesn’t make sense to anyone except myself,” he adds. The logistics surrounding the writing and recording process of Avalon allowed Green to present his songs exactly the way he envisioned them, making this album the first true glimpse into the inner workings of Green’s psyche.
However despite the fact this is a “solo” album, that doesn’t mean that these songs are all composed of Green plaintively singing and strumming an acoustic guitar (although songs like “Drugdealer” are beautiful representations of just that). In fact, from the lush, Cure-inspired pop of “Babygirl” to the electronically driven ballad “Springtime Out The Van Window” and the harmonica and keyboard augmented “Slowing Down,” the inventive arrangements on these tracks perfectly complement Green’s distinctive vocal stylings. Then, there’s “Dear Child (I’ve Been Dying To Reach You),” which was the recorded on the West Coast with producer John Feldmann — and, although it has a completely different production value than the rest of the disc, effortlessly fits into the context of the album and is a perfect example of the artistic scope inherent on Avalon.
Although he prefers to allow his lyrics to be open to interpretation instead of laying out exactly what they’re about, Green will admit that every song on this album is related to something that he’s experienced personally over the past ten years, adding that instead of cloaking his message in metaphor and symbolism these songs contain some of the most direct lyrics he’s written to date. “‘She Loves Me So’ is about exactly what you think you feel about love and I wrote ‘Devil’s Song’ after a conversation I had with Saves The Day’s Chris Conley about how much of your soul you put into your music,” Green says about two of his favorite tracks. “I think everyone is always trying to look for what the meaning of everything is and what’s funny to me about these songs is that they’re all so obvious.”
While one might assume that after spending most of the year touring, he’d want to spend some time off relaxing, Green is adamant about constantly writing songs and making them available for his fans whether it’s in the form of Avalon or via demos he circulates on the Internet. “I’m always busy, I’ll be busy all my life; that’s just the way I like it,” he explains with a laugh. “I never liked working hard until I found something that didn’t make me feel like an alien to what I was doing; I think with music and art I belong there and I’m a native so I don’t mind doing it all the time. In fact, I embrace it.” Hopefully you’ll also embrace Avalon as a labor of love that Green has crafted as much for his fans as he has himself, because although it was recorded in scantly over a week on Seven Mile Island, Avalon truly took decades to unfold.