Greensky Bluegrass’ Paul Hoffman acknowledges there’s “a risk to having a tongue-in-cheek album title” such as All for Money, the bluegrass quintet’s latest, which comes out Friday and is premiering in its entirety exclusively below. But the singer and mandolinist, who wrote eight of the album’s 12 tracks, is confident that their ever-growing legion of fans will get the joke.
“Clearly we aren’t a band that’s all for money,” Hoffman tells Billboard. The epic and experimental title track — “More linear than anything I normally would have written,” Hoffman notes — also “kind of sums up the record process, in a way. It’s really about the band. When we made our first record in ’04, it’s not like we were trying to shop it around for anything or win awards and all that. It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years, seven records. It’s been impressive — and humbling.” All for Money comes out on the band’s own label, Big Blue Zoo Records.
Recording at Echo Mountain Sound in Asheville, N.C., and co-producing with Dominic John Davis (Jack White’s regular bassist) and Glenn Brown, Greensky Bluegrass set out “to just make another record and record some tunes,” according to Hoffman. But the group also wanted to incorporate more elements of its concerts into the songs, playing live on the floor and employing the “arsenal of tools,” including amplifier tones and sonic effects, that have become part of Greensky’s live arrangements.
“We wanted to get the energy of us playing and not having it sound like it was tooled together,” Hoffman says. “On a lot of past records we would discover those tones as we were working on the songs in the studio. Now we’ve played so much that we just have a lot more ideas to choose from, and new tricks from the last record that pop up when we’re improvising on stage. This time we brought them in with us as things that could be part of the songs from the get-go.”
Greensky, who play up to 175 shows a year, has been playing most of All for Money live during its winter tour, which wraps Feb. 9 at the Fillmore Detroit. The plan for the rest of the year includes playing summer festivals as well as outdoor headlining dates that have become a new part of the band’s rotation. “It’s just mind-bending, some of the places we’re playing,” Hoffman notes. “I think back to when I was 16, 18 and saw Phish at an amphitheater; The ones we’re playing aren’t as big, but it’s great to see the places get bigger and the crowds get bigger and see how it’s growing just about every time.”