Greenlit features 12 instrumental guitar compositions and one song, End of the Line, played on nylon guitar with cello accompaniment by Eric Remschneider and lead vocals by Dan Monahan.
The Greenlit writing and recording sessions resulted in a variety of songs that incorporate many elements of heavy rock guitar and lighter, melodic guitar timbres. While writing and recording Greenlit, I made a conscious effort to include a pallet of tones and compositions that span a variety of musical genres.
During the writing of and selection of tracks to be included on this album, I focused on the theme of “new beginnings” or “getting started,” hence the title (and title track) Greenlit. The theme of “beginning” is also reflected in the title of each instrumental track on the album. Some of the track names are evident as to why they represent “beginnings” or “firsts,” others are somewhat less obvious or obscure, as they have personal meaning to me (some are in jest, others are introspective).
I did not want Greenlit to sound like every other instrumental “rock guitar” album released over years past. As a result, there was a concerted effort on my part to create an album that sounded consistent, yet diverse in tone and musical variety. My greatest influence in playing the guitar has always been Jimmy Page. After being really drawn into the instrument by his approach to guitar, I was later influenced by guitarists such as Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani, Al DiMieola, Steve Vai, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Santana, and Michael Hedges. I also wanted to include some of these influences in my playing and approach to Greenlit to recognize the impact they have had on my own playing and love of guitar.
I had always written instrumental guitar music. In fact, the first song I ever wrote, called Equinox, was an acoustic guitar instrumental track. I wrote Equinox during the summer as I entered my freshman year in high school. Greenlit enabled me to release some of the music I had been writing, and continued to write, for this project with my theme of “getting started.” My personal assertion was if I were to truly get started and “greenlight” my ideas, it would have to include a wide spectrum of musical ideas, styles, genres, and tones.
The sound throughout Greenlit is ambient and varies widely. My approach to playing lead electric guitar is evident in the thunderous riffs of Hand of God, blazing solos in CoeXisT, to the more soulful playing on Road to Forgiveness. To put this in context, the track Up, Down, Top, Bottom, Charm, and Strange contains Middle Eastern percussion accompanied by overdriven lead work, nylon guitar, and fretless nylon guitar (played on an 11-string Glissentar). I overdubbed an electric and acoustic guitar army with an E-bow for that track, as compared to Nights with You, which is basically one nylon guitar track with one improvised nylon lead track centered around drummer Jeff Moehle’s Brazilian percussion. To take this a step further, compare those two tracks to the tom-tom driven, ska-inspired guitar work on Empathy, and you really do have a variety of instrumental guitar work under the umbrella of “getting started” and showcasing the guitar.
I have always loved listening to instrumental guitar music. I love the varying degrees the instrument possesses. I believe guitar is the most versatile and expressive instrument in any instrument family. Playing guitar empowers the player to express heavy blues and rock-based licks yet include the subtle nuances found in classical and acoustic guitar. The possibilities across 6-strings, coupled with acoustic, electric, amplification, and effects, is truly infinite. My goal was to capture these infinite possibilities.
In addition to guitar, I played a variety of other instruments on Greenlit. These include bass, mandolin, bouzouki, hammer dulcimer, kantele, and keyboards. Tracks, such as The Charlie Foxtrot, White Noise, Carpe Diem, Empathy, Balance, and Galloping on Water provide an audible illustration of the melodic, complex balance of classical, flamenco, rock, and folk guitar in composition. In addition, the musical styles on Greenlit range from modern hard rock guitar to Eastern-influenced instrumentation. I wanted to explore the limits of contemporary rock guitar through complimentary, contemporary electric and acoustic guitar arrangements.
Given my approach to Greenlit, I also wanted to include one vocal composition to wrap up the project and showcase guitar with vocals and orchestration. I included a song I wrote, called End of the Line, which features acclaimed cellist Eric Remschneider. Eric is best known for his work on The Smashing Pumpkins’ 1993 release Siamese Dream, as well as the Plain White Ts’ 2006 hit, Hey There Delilah. I had recorded with Eric in the past and I was particularly proud of his work on End of the Line.
The lyrics to End of the Line address teenage suicide, which is a topic very near and dear to me. I believe most parents would be shocked to learn a fair percentage of children (possibly their own children), prior to and as they become teenagers, experience bouts with severe depression and suicidal ideation. Many times, these feelings remain private, as most people tend to feel too ashamed to discuss and/or share. I wrote this song when I, myself, was 17 years old and still in high school. I performed End of the Line with a post-high school band and finally included it on Greenlit many years later.
Greenlit provided a catalyst for me in terms of approaching instrumental guitar work, which, ironically, fulfilled my theme of “getting started” and “new beginnings.”
Produced by Chris Dignam for Gram Theft Audio Sound and Production
Engineered by Dan Monahan
Published by CANE Dubh Music (ASCAP)
Equinox Management / 606N Entertainment Group
All songs written and arranged by Chris Dignam except for Empathy, written by Chris Dignam, Liam Carolan, and Domingo Castillo, Jr.
Photography by Damir Ara and Norah Dignam
Artwork by Marjorrie Custodio
Art direction, design, and layout by Chris Dignam
Chris Dignam – Electric, acoustic, and classical guitar, glissentar, mandolin, bouzouki, hammer dulcimer, kantele, e-bow, acoustic and electric bass, and keyboards
Jeff Moehle – Drums on Greenlit, White Noise, Hand of God, CoeXisT, Carpe Diem, The Charlie Foxtrot, Nights with You, and Road to Forgiveness
Bob Repin, Jr. – Drums on Empathy
Dan Monahan – Lead vocals on End of the Line
Eric Remschneider – Cello on End of the Line