When you talk to William Clark Green, you know you’re getting the truth. The man does not hold back.
Which doesn’t mean it’s confrontational. Green is warm and funny, quick to laugh at himself, and shares the mark of world-weary wisdom with a nasty streak he’s picked up from spending the past decade on the road.
He shares these wisdoms through songs. Many of them. Green has lent his pen and warm baritone to six records, each dedicated to telling the story of his native Texas. The most recent, “Baker Hotel”, was released in March 2022.
But it sounds perfectly at home in the fall. The title track could fit perfectly into any Halloween party, with spooky organ and spooky lyrics, challenging the listener to climb to the top of the Baker Hotel, a once-chic spa in Mineral Wells. , Texas, now long abandoned and in disrepair. .
“If you really want to tell a story,” Green sings, “you have to go through the 14 stories of hell.”
There is one last irony. The Baker Hotel shouldn’t be abandoned for very long. In 2019 the hotel was purchased, and it is in the midst of major renovations, aiming to reopen the historic complex by 2024. according to San Antonio TV station KSAT.
Green brings his stories to Billings for a show at the Pub Station on Saturday September 10. The next night, on September 11, he is in Great Falls at Newberry.
He is looking forward to visiting Montana, he said, with a small reservation.
“I heard it was hot,” he said. “So I’m curious about that. I was like ‘We’re leaving all this hot weather [in Texas] to have more warm weather.'”
Ahead of those shows, the Gazette sat down with Green to talk about how changes in Texas mirror those in Montana, the state of modern country music and, most importantly, whether he believes in ghosts. (Answers have been lightly edited for clarity and brevity).
Why do you think people in Montana gravitate to Texas country music?
Have you been listening to country music lately? [Laughs] I think the reality is that people appreciate the creativity that is embraced in the state of Texas. And I don’t believe cowboys listen to country music anymore. So I think the country of Texas fits in perfectly, because that’s who we are and that’s what we do. It’s just real.
Do you consider yourself an alternative country?
No. I don’t care what it’s called, because it doesn’t affect anything I do. I know we do a lot of things that aren’t traditionally country. I do folk, rock and alternative. For me, care sucks. I try to create music that interests me, and interests my brain and whatever people want to describe as it’s really up to them.
The cover of your latest album, “Baker Hotel”, is a tribute to the books of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. Is it something you did when you were a kid?
Not really, but I was and still am a big fan of Norman Rockwell. And things like “The Sandlot”. Things that are only American, you know? When I think of Americana, I see ‘Sandlot’, I see ‘The Goonies’, I see Norman Rockwell, I see WWII posters. I mean, it’s just the most American stuff ever. So just kind of putting a modern twist on it was my idea.
The Baker Hotel is a real place. How did this large abandoned building inspire you?
This hotel is in West Texas, and I have been in and around West Texas for most of my life. I lived in a town called Easton, which is not far from Mineral Wells, and I had always heard people talking about the Baker Hotel and how they broke in. I mean, it’s something, like breaking into the Baker and going upstairs is a real thing that people have been doing for years and years and years. Every one of my albums is about a city in Texas, and I thought it was so cool to be able to write a song like “The Monster Mash.” The story kind of lends itself to what we do. Those songs are what make it fun, you know? To do something so original, that has never been done, people have never done a song like that before. And that makes me proud.
The Baker Hotel is notoriously haunted. It has been featured in “Ghost Adventures” and other ghost hunting shows. Do you believe in ghosts?
Yes, I believe in ghosts. I don’t want to witness it, but yes. I think there are spirits running around. How to believe in guardian angels and not believe in ghosts? I had friends who told crazy stories. Not at the Baker, but in other places. I really think there’s something, some people claim it’s purgatory or something. I would be more shocked if there were no ghosts there.
The music video for “Baker Hotel” is inspired by a horror movie. Are you a horror fan?
No. I hate horror movies. I think it’s the dumbest thing ever to pay money to scare you. I can’t stand them. I won’t even watch “Scream”. I hated it when it came out. But like, I was a teenager, you know, we used to tell ghost stories in the tree house. That’s the vibe I’m looking for. The innocence of it. Unlike the bloody look.
Yeah. It’s all American folk storytelling.
Right. It’s like “Frankenstein”. It’s scary but it’s still light.
Changing the album a bit, how has Texas changed since you’ve been there?
It is constantly evolving. Constantly evolving. I mean, how has Montana changed?
It’s a similar conversation.
Yeah, I mean, there’s a massive migration to our state. Which was welcoming and interesting. But our whole country is constantly changing. I hope Texas can keep its identity and not lose it. It’s crowded, but it’s a big state and no one really wants to live in West Texas, so that’s always an option. [laughs].
Montana is in a similar boat. Resorts and mountainous areas are filling up, but we still have the plains to ourselves.
The plains are not bad! They really aren’t. And the price of living is really cheap too. I lived in Fort Worth for three years and lived in West Texas for most of my life. Texas is a very large state, so there is plenty of room. If you want to get away from someone, you can, and you’re probably doing it for half the price.
How do you stay busy on the road?
I have a bike and I try to go explore the cities. We play golf. And we love to cook. But I just had my first child, so I don’t do a lot of travel days. I spent 13, 14 years on the road. After I had my child, I said “I fly back and forth from now on.” If there’s no show, I’m not here. The kid really had fun. I never had a reason to be home. So now I do. Which is fun.
Congratulations. It’s so exciting.
Thanks. It’s just the most special thing ever. Seeing yourself in him is really cool.