Most people know Greg Corner as the tall, good-looking bassist - and friendly merch distributor - of Kill Hannah. However, many KH fans have no clue that he is also a sick-as-hell DJ. True facts, kids. True facts. Greg is one-third of the dark wave DJ's, who promote and DJ a club night in Chicago's Sonotheque, appropriately called: Dark Wave Disco. He and partners Mark Gertz and Trancid have opened for many premiere and well-respected digital artists, such as Justice, Mstrkrft, Digitalism, and Bloody Beetroots. As if that isn't enough to make you wish you were a cultured 21+ Chicago resident, the Dark Wave DJ's have also DJed many awesome events - including ones for Rolling Stone and Filter Magazines. They enjoy vacations too, though, and have traveled to DJ at clubs in LA, Vegas, Minneapolis, and New York city. I was recently given the opportunity, on behalf of Scene Trash, to sit down with and interview Greg; in a little alley behind the legendary stone pony in Asbury Park (NJ) on the 9/13 stop of Kill Hannah's HOPE FOR THE HOPELESS TOUR 2008 (with the medic droid, inner-party system, and white tie affair), we spoke about the breakfast club, slightly scary fan girls, and the quiet humor in...jello shots?
DANI TAUBER: Sometimes when you take Mat's lyrics without any vocals or music and see them just written down on paper, they read more like poetry. Do you think he'd ever consider writing a book, like a collection of uncollected thoughts?
GREG CORNER: I don't think he'd put out a book of poetry, but I think he'd put out a journal or something like he writes. You know? 'Cuz the funny thing is, I never see the lyrics that way until they're in the booklet. 'Cuz he'll write them in the studio, and we'll never see them written down until we see the CD booklet. I remember when we did "Welcome to Chicago, Motherfucker..." We were recording that and I was just like, "DID YOU JUST SAY JELLO SHOT, DUDE?!" and he was like, "YEAH!!" I was like "What?! Couldn't you think of something better?" And he was like "Nah. It's funny, man." And I told him no one was gonna get that, except for him. Haha.think he'd put out a book of stories, or journal entries, but I don't know if he'd ever put out a book of poetry.
DT: Obviously, you're a very creative person...Did you ever face any animosity from peers or teachers, because of this?
GC: I never really had any teacher or classmate challenge me. I didn't really have good teachers; like no one really saw my creativity or what my strong spot was. I was the guy who was kinda just invisible in high school. I didn't get bad grades,didn't get great grades. All my friends were a year younger; I was pretty much invisible to my class and teachers. But it's the friends I have now who challenge me; we're really competitive with each other. Like my friend Chris, he's on the road with us now doing video and stuff, we were in a band together back in '93. We're constantly challenging each other and calling bullshit on each other, pushing each other, you know? It's kinda the same with the band too...I think that's what's gonna drive the next record, actually.
DT: What would you say is the strangest thing about yourself?
GC: The strangest thing...well...we are very UN-rock 'n roll. We're kinda just like, learning how to relax and have fun. We've been doing this for so many years, and doing things ourselves for so long, you know? This is the first tour where I haven't had to sell merch, and we have a tour managerhandles everythingus.'re learning how to relax a little bit. (DT: What is that like for you, not having to sell your merch?) Ah, it's great! I have aof time to go do other things, you know? Like, we went deep-sea fishing in San Francisco and caught sharks, and bike riding in Oregon...You get to see a lot more of the cities you're playing in.
DT: If you weren't making music or touring, what would you be doing instead?
GC: Oh, SOMETHING with music. You know I DJ when I'm at home, and my life really revolves around music. I could probably run a merch company if I wanted to, or a clothing company, or I could probably manage a band or DJ really easily. Even though none of that stuff pays anymore, haha. I don't know how I'd make a life out of it. It's a challenge now, actually.
DT: What is the scariest, most potentially dangerous thingfan has ever done to get your attention?
GC: We've seen a lot of crazy things...like people carving our names into their bodies. Mat signed this girl's like, stomach or side, and the next time we came back to England she had it scarred into her skin. I don't know, like...I guess it's really flattering, that you like the band so much, that's awesome, but at the same time, when you're 50, what are you going to think of that? Haha.
DT: People scribble KH lyrics into their notebooks, and turn to your music in times of tragedy and frustration. Is it possible to adequately describe what it feels like to have so many people look up to you in the same way you looked up to your heroes?
GC: Well that's what "The Songs That Saved My Life'" is about...Um, it's awesome, it's the best form of flattery. Like you're doing something right, you know? I turned to U2 a lot, when shit was going rough, and other bands, and music really got me through the hardest part of my life, you know? And it feels really good to be a part of something like that.
DT: If you could pick three people, alive or dead, to sit and have a conversation with, who would they be and why?
GC: Hmmm...Let's see here. Ian Curtis, from Joy Division, Martin Luther King... Umm...and...uh, who else? Alive or dead? Ok, Jon Hughes or Cameron Crowe. I just wanna know how they get in the heads of teenagers at, like, a later stage in their own lives. Jon Hughes made The Breakfast Club when he was in his 40's I think,it's amazing how he just hit it dead-on for the time music-wise, conversation-wise, style-wise. And kids still watch it now, and relate to it the same way. I think that's just awesome.
DT: What, if anything, is the most intellectual thing you have ever read or written on a bathroom wall?
GC: I've read some ROUGH things haha...nothing really ever intellectual though. I wish, but unfortunately, a lot of the places we go to are not places where intellectual people hang out. And most intellectual people actually wouldn't write on a bathroom wall haha. So unfortunately there's nothing I really remember seeing except for like, stuff that I can't believe is written on a bathroom wall, like racist stuff, and I'm like, "seriously? this still exists today?" (DT: Do you guys play a lot of redneck towns? Haha.) Of course! I mean, anywhere you go in the United States, it's like, you know, when you're in New York, LA, and Chicago, you're kind of in a bubble, but the rest of the country is scary. It really is.
DT: Who or what do you credit most for your success as an artist?
GC: My band, haha. I think they're the ones, you know, like, we wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for each one of us. So, that's the reason for our success. Maybe our friends too, like all the people who told me I couldn't do it, and so I did it. The people that doubt you are usually the people who drive you the most. It's sad, but you know, when you're young, you wanna prove people wrong, and it doesn't stop either. People told us... our manager said "Don't go to England," our label said, "Don't go to England," everyone said we didn't have money for it, and we said "FUCK YOU, WE'RE GOING." We didn't care, we went.success is based on proving people wrong when they say we can't or won't do something.
DT: Has the stress of touring and release deadlines and keeping your gas tank full on the road ever gotten you to a point of almost giving up?
GC: God yeah, every day. I mean, it's a struggle to be in a band, especially when you're older, and you start thinking about having a family and buying a house and things like that, and it really is a life-long decision. I mean, college students make more money than musicians. High school students probably make more money. Sometimes you're just like, "Why am I doing this, why am I doing this?" But you know, the other half is the music, your love of music.music industry is in shambles right now, and no one knows how to make anybut I think the people who are gonna be in it fromon are the people who genuinely love the music. Fans over fame.
And fans over fame is right; I have never once been to KH show where the boys were not hanging out for a few hours after the set just to meet and hang out with everybody. They are by far probably the most approachable band I have ever come across; there's no "lead singer syndrome" or "holier than thou" attitude issues to overcome to have a decent conversation. I've heard people say that would change, once they got even bigger, or whatever, but I don't think these guys know how to be any different, and their fans absolutely love them for it.