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Colleen Green's I Want to Grow Up Is Punk for an Adult World

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Los Angeles-based songwriter Colleen Green performs at Dryer Plug Studios this Sunday, September 6, with Future Single Mom, Safe Boating is No Accident and Male Blonding. An East Coast native, Green moved to Oakland in 2008 and became part of the garage-punk world in the Bay Area as a member of the surf-punk band the Have Mercys. Before moving to L.A. in 2010, Green had her first solo performance opening for Nobunny. Since then, she has become much more well known for her solo material, composed with her guitar and a drum machine.

Green's debut, Milo Goes to Compton, is a nod, of course, to the Descendents and a good dose of her affectionately irreverent and absurdist sense of humor. (One of the songs on the album is called “I Wanna Be Degraded" and modifies a riff from “Blitzkrieg Bop.”) Green recorded both that EP and the follow-up full-length, Sock It to Me, at home.

For the 2015 album, I Want to Grow Up, Green recorded in a studio with a band including Jake Orrall of JEFF The Brotherhood on guitar and Diarrhea Planet's Casey Weissbuch on drums. For the current tour, Weissbuch will accompany Green. Though recorded in a studio, the songs are pure Colleen Green — part wistful, part playful, but emotionally open and always possessed of a disarming tenderness. This time around, Green seems even more exposed in her lyrics, especially in the song “Deeper Than Love,” in which she sings about subjects that many other songwriters wouldn't, at least not with such naked honesty. One of her inspirations in this regard is Mike Hunchback of the band Hunchback.

“I loved how brutally honest he was in his writing, and he was against the idea of self-censorship,” says Green. “[But it's] important to find a way to say what you want to say that hopefully won't hurt people's feelings. One thing that I try to keep in mind is that you don't have to be ashamed of stuff. The things I grew up being ashamed of or shy about or scared to share with other people I realized it's okay, because we're all the same and everyone feels the same way.”

One of Green's great strengths as an artist is that she is herself in her music. Her songs speak to the insecurities we often keep private and to questioning the myths of what it actually means to be an adult and an artist after an age when creative people are supposed to stop and get a “real” job. If Colleen Green is punk, then it's the kind that has space for introspection and haunted melody alongside splintery and fractured rock songs. And if punk is to have any real relevance beyond one's adolescence, it needs elements that are able to retain that youthful spirit but meld with emotional exigencies of adulthood. Few artists are capable of finding that balance with as much creativity and skill as a Colleen Green.

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.