From the Ramones to the Descendents, punk has a history of glorifying the Peter Pan syndrome. Colleen Green's second Hardly Art full-length runs counter to that time-honored sentiment, proclaiming proudly: I Want to Grow Up. "Being grown up to me means having wisdom and having lived more, and just getting new perspectives and allowing your mind to grow and stop being so self-obsessed," says the songwriter over the phone from her LA home. "I don't think I am grown up yet. Not quite." But she's working on it. While her records in the past have been lo-fi recordings using a drum machine and Green herself playing all the instruments, this record enlists the help of JEFF the Brotherhood's Jake Orrall and Diarrhea Planet's Casey Weissbuch to create a collection of 10 perfectly polished gems that rival the best Damone and Veruca Salt tunes in catchiness. The album is brave in its deeply personal vulnerability, delving into feelings of social anxiety, struggles with addiction, and musings about the impossibility of love—all delivered in Green's dreamy, honeyed vocals and the candor of a late-night heart-to-heart. It's a coming-of-age record that makes you feel like all the best coming-of-age art: Shit is tough, but ultimately you're not alone and everything is going to be okay.
You wrote on Twitter that there aren't any love songs on this album. Was that a conscious decision?
No, actually, that's just kind of what came out. The lyrics that were coming to my mind just never happened to be about love—at least not the hope of love or the want of love. When I wrote the last record, I was in a relationship, and this time I'm not. I was sort of hopeful about love at that point, but still cynical and kind of depressed about it. And now I am still depressed about love, but I also know that it doesn't matter, and that I shouldn't put too much importance on meeting someone because I am confident in what I'm doing, and that should be my thing. But I'm kind of a hopeless romantic. It would be really nice to meet someone and be totally in love and that would be it. But I just don't know if that can happen nowadays with the internet.
In "Deeper Than Love," you ask, "Is love being ruined by technology?" What do you think technology changes about love?
It makes everyone accessible. In the old days, people kind of stayed where they lived, and they met people through work or school or whatever and they were like, "Wow, this person is the best person in the world. She's the most beautiful, or he's the most handsome, and we're in love." It was more romantic. But now you have Tinder, you have Facebook, you have all this shit that's designed to be secretive and designed to make everyone in the world feel accessible to you. So you can just be checking out people all day long. And of course someone you don't know is going to seem more interesting than someone that you do know. It's kind of sad, but that's just the way the world is. I've been wondering if I will ever meet anyone who's not like that. Actually, this guy that I've been kind of seeing, one of the main reasons I liked him—I mean, he's cool and everything, but one of the things I liked about him was that he didn't have an iPhone. Because I don't have an iPhone and everyone has an iPhone, which they're always looking at and doing nothing on. So I was like, nice, we're in this together. And then he fucking got an iPhone!
Did it change your relationship?
Deal breaker! No. But I feel weird about it.
Do you feel anxious about the vulnerability in your lyrics?
Yeah, it's kind of scary. I mostly am scared about my parents listening to it, but they've heard my music in the past and they still love me. Any time I get worried about my lyrics being too weird or too open or too fucked up, I just think about that Sum 41 song that's like, "Motivation, such an aggravation," or that MxPx song that's like, "Responsibility, what's that?/Responsibility, not quite yet." Those are basically the same song to me, so I'll just think, well, at least my lyrics aren't that. And it makes me feel better.
Weed imagery has always been a big part of your aesthetic, and in the song "Things That Are Bad for Me," you sing about struggling to leave behind all kinds of negative habits. Is weed one of the things that is bad for you?
[Laughs] Yeah, that's definitely one of the things that's bad for me. But how I think about my relationship with weed is slightly different now, and it's definitely evolving. Number one, I just think that weed-leaf imagery is really great. Wear it on your shirt. Who gives a fuck? But I definitely feel like I need to stop smoking weed at some point. But it's hard because everybody here smokes, and it's not that bad. It's not good, though, either. I know your body can't get addicted to weed, but I feel like your mind can definitely get addicted to having that routine. But I have a job now and a bit more of a schedule—I think keeping yourself busy is a key to dealing with your addictions. It's an uphill battle. I'm not super prolific, so I'm not the type of person who can just make tons of art or write tons of songs. I have my moments, and that's it. I think that as a creative person, I'll never stop creating, but that doesn't mean that I can't stop creating. You have to get inspired, and I'm just not inspired every day.
The album ends on a really hopeful, empowering note with "Whatever I Want." What inspired that song?
Part of it was inspired by people telling me that I should get a band. I was just on tour with Cassie Ramone, and she plays alone, but she plays with an acoustic guitar, and I'm sure that no one has ever said to her, "You need a drummer." But because I use something to help me keep time and keep a beat, people are like, "Oh my god, she must need a drummer. What is this poor girl doing? Do you want me to drum for you? Do you need a bass player?" And I'm like, dude, if I wanted those things, I would have those things. Why are you trying to tell me that I should change my art?
It was inspired by that kind of thing. A lot of people think that getting married and having babies is just what they're supposed to do. But I don't have to do that. I can do whatever I want. And I've learned that over the past five years because I'm in a totally different place now than I was when I was living in Oakland and getting drunk every night, working a retail job, playing in a band, and not doing much. Now I'm doing a lot of cool stuff that's what I really want to be doing. It's a hopeful song, and it's also a fuck you—I'm not going to take your advice, because I'm smart and I know it. And I'm good and I know it. And I don't care what you say—I'm going to do whatever I want.