Thornton grad’s new band roars to life

Brian Green was initially motivated to learn how to play the guitar with the hope of winning the attention of his elementary school crush. Unfortunately, the girl wasn’t as impressed as he hoped she would be.

Coming home · Music school alumnus Brian Green (second from left) plays lead guitar in The Whisper in the Roar, a rock band with Trojan roots. - Photo courtesy of Mike Libby

“In that sense, maybe it was slightly disappointing,” Green joked. “But I think it worked itself out in other ways.”

Now a much more refined musician, 25-year-old Green has assembled a diverse and impressive résumé, which includes recording a solo instrumental album, graduating from USC’s Thornton School of Music and touring with popular crooner Michael Bublé.

Just 10 years ago, Green began taking lessons from Ted Greene, a well-known and well-respected jazz musician from the Los Angeles area.

“Hearing him play really opened the door for me,” Green said. “He showed me some new and interesting ways of thinking about and understanding music.”

Inspired by his mentor, Green continued to develop his jazz guitar skills. Before his acceptance to Thornton in 2002, he already had several fine accomplishments under his belt. As a 2000 Spotlight Award finalist, he was invited to perform at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion with renowned pianist Gerald Clayton. Also a Clifford Brown/Stan Getz Fellow, he was later selected to be part of the 2001 Grammy band.

After a year of pursuing a studio jazz guitar degree, and with glowing recommendations from mutual contacts, Green was offered a spot in Bublé’s touring band. In the year and a half he was with the band, Green was able to record on Bublé’s Grammy-nominated album It’s Time and be the guitar soloist on the number one single, “Home.” He also played numerous esteemed venues such as the Sydney Opera House and the Hollywood Bowl, experiences that Green found very powerful.

“You end up getting on stage, and there’s this weight that you feel of how much talent has been where you are,” he recalled. “That’s a feeling that always resonates with me.”

Green describes his journey with Bublé as rewarding on more than one level.

“It helped me as a musician because having the experience of playing every single night with really great people definitely lifts you up and forces you to rise to the occasion,” he said.

Being in the band also taught him about the business aspect of his field, giving Green what he calls an “insider’s point of view” to what makes a difference in the music industry. But perhaps the experience he appreciated the most was learning how to be an engaging performer.

“Getting to see how [Michael Bublé] works the crowd and is able to understand them and bring them into his world is something that I’ve tried to emulate when it comes to my own performances,” Green said.

Although it was a difficult decision, Green left Bublé’s band in 2005 to return to Thornton.

“At the time, it was definitely the right decision for me to make,” he said. “It was clear I wanted to finish up school and work on some other projects and grow in that sense for a little while.”

Graduating in 2007, he began to record his debut album, Scenic Route. Recording the instrumental album is one achievement he is particularly proud of. Green said that while composing his music, he has no exact idea or concept in mind.

“A lot of the better ideas I’ve come up with have come from just experimenting and playing, not necessarily thinking about anything or being inspired by anything in particular,” he said. “The love I have for just sitting and playing the guitar seems to lead to the things I’m happiest with.”

While instrumental music still has a big influence on him, Green is now focused on his current project, playing lead guitar for the band The Whisper in the Roar. According to lead singer George Krikes, the band’s five members met at USC while studying jazz. They soon started to jam together outside of school, which led to songwriting and creating the concrete lineup of Green, Krikes, Bill Zimmerman on keyboards, Andrew Perusi on bass and Gavin Salmon on drums.

Encompassing a multitude of rock genres, the group has a sound as unique as its name, which was indirectly inspired by the title of singer-songwriter Tom Waits’ “Glitter and Doom” tour.

The band sought a name that reflected the wide emotional and musical range its members felt it has, finally deciding on the two contrasting forces of a whisper and a roar.

The songs are written by Green and Krikes, but in the end, it is a mostly collaborative effort from the whole group.

“We come from similar but different enough places that we can offer individual and unique insights,” Green said. “The end result is a cool combination, and it is better than what I would do by myself.”

Krikes explained that girls, death and despair are recurring themes in the band’s lyrics, but ultimately there is a positive message to be heard.

“We talk about these things without being too dark,” he said. “It’s a lot about considering decisions we make in our lives, and what path we’re taking.”

The Whisper in the Roar is currently unsigned but hopes to keep making new music and playing for as many people as possible. Green said that “the sky is the limit” for the band and he is excited to see this project through. Passing on some valuable wisdom to any aspiring musician, he advises to keep an open mind.

“It is good to be driven and have goals while not limiting yourself to one thing,” Green said.

“Where I am now is not the place that I would have thought I would end up when I first started at USC, and I think I’m at a place that is much happier now.”