We caught up with Dallas Green (better known by his recording alias, City and Colour) a few days before he wraps up his North American tour for his latest album, The Hurry and the Harm. When he first looked at the tour schedule, he said it looked very long, and now it’s eight weeks later and he says it’s been crazy. After his show in Cleveland tomorrow night — and two back-to-back shows at the Fillmore Detroit — he’s getting a much-deserved week off before he starts his Australian tour. He’s happy to spend December in Australia — as its during their summertime as opposed to North America’s winter. He says he’s even thought about moving there, but having to take a 22-hour flight to see his mom or anyone else on this side of the world would be too big a bummer.
His passion is evident, as his tone of voice changes talking about his love for making music and singing and playing on stage. He says he’s “searching for that moment where I can sing [a] song and it feels like it’s a part of me.” Performing is an art in and of itself and a eight-week, no-break tour is intense, crazy, he says.
“There’s good days and there’s bad days. But the good days, man, are they great and they make the bad shows seem like they didn’t happen,” he says. At the previous night’s show in Pittsburgh, he says, “I opened my mouth to sing and it felt like breathing.” On such a night, he says, “it just feels like I’m supposed to be a singer.” But he also adds, “It’s hard to have a great show, because you’re doing something that you love so much and it can literally break your heart in the middle of one song and then seal it back up near the end.”
“What gets me going is the searching or striving for the perfect song,” Green says. “I know I’ll never get there, because, if I do, then that means I won’t have anything to do after that.”
Green says that he produces his music first and foremost for himself, music he likes and that he’s happy with.
“I really have a hard time writing lyrics. It takes me a very long time. So, I have a notebook that I carry with me and I have notebooks at home,” he says, adding with a laugh, “They’re not full. I’ll write a line that I like and then I’ll shut my book and be very happy that I got a line. Then I’ll come back to it or I’ll sing it over and over until I start trying to build the rest of the song. Wait around and hope something presents itself.
“I’m lucky enough that people are interested in listening to me lament my personal problems,” he adds with a chuckle. “I try to lament in a relatable fashion, so people can identify.”
Of all his songs, he says his favorite right now is “Two Coins,” off the new album, because, “You write songs and you record them, a lot of times they don’t come out the way you’re maybe hearing it in your head. It’s pretty impossible to make it sound the way you’re hearing it in your head. You just gotta try and get close. But when I listen to that song, it sounds exactly like I wanted it to sound. When we play that song live, and I get to sing it every night, it’s the part I look most forward to in the set. I don’t know why, maybe because I feel like it explains me perfectly or something, but I also just love the melody and I love singing it.”
Green says he aims “to keep writing good songs, songs that I love. And when I don’t feel that I’m doing that anymore, or I don’t feel that I’m doing it for the right reasons anymore, then I’ll probably stop.
“My goal is never to be the biggest and the best. I never wanted to be famous. I don’t look at myself like that, and when people say, ‘How does it feel to be famous?’ I say, ‘I’m not, I’m a singer.’”
Asked if he has a message for his fans, he says, “Thank you, if you’re already listening and if you’re not, then, that’s OK too.” Dallas Green is humble, through and through.
City and Colour appears Friday-Saturday, Nov. 8-9, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-961-5450.