It’s almost time for Almost Green

Melissa Weigel

If it weren’t for their hatred of a particular restaurant, the members of Almost Green may never have gotten together.

What happened was that several of them worked at the same eatery, at which they were promptly fired for playing guitar in the back together instead of actually working.

It turned out to be one of the best jobs they barely had, catalyzing a friendship that would eventually turn into the band Almost Green.

Composed of Jay Liberatore (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), Kevin Hill (drums), Shaun Ruymen (lead vocals, keys, percussion, acoustic guitar), Dan Miller (bass, vocals) and Paul Schober (lead guitar), the band has only been together with its present line-up for about 18 months.

However, several of the band members worked together on past collaborations, including the band Pumastrut.

But this variation in members is something the band values. Indeed, at Novafest this Saturday, the band will feature a different drummer than their normal one, Kevin Hill.

Joe Bellia, who has played with such local favorites as Bruce Springsteen, will be filling in.

“It’s kind of an honor to see other established musicians coming in to our band to try something new,” Ruymen said.

Though Ruymen said the band does not have a philosophy to their music, per se, one of their central ideas is reflected in the band’s name. Almost Green refers to the point when a fruit is almost ripe. The band is never quite at that stage, never quite ripe or perfect. They are constantly changing and improving and never staying the same; hence, it’s impossible to ever quite reach that ripeness. But that’s a good thing, Ruymen said.

“It’s like we all suffer from ADHD,” he said. “We don’t want to play a song too much or else we’ll get bored of it. Whenever we write a song, we never take the first version; we’re constantly changing it. Though it’s cliché to say this, we’re being genuine when we say we’re trying to do something different.”

Playing a mix of folk, rock, R&B and pop music, Ruymen describes their sound as a mix between “Matchbox 20, crazy Latin rock groove, Dave Matthews and Jack Johnson, like a fun Counting Crows.”

Almost Green has played at Villanova twice before, and they said that every time people have been welcoming. For this show, though, they hope to draw an even bigger audience and hopefully to draw in some repeat listeners from their previous shows.

Other than that, Ruymen couldn’t say what the audience should expect from the performance, as the band doesn’t write a set list, choosing instead to be spontaneous.

“Our biggest thing at shows is fun,” Ruymen said. “We invest as much in the audience as they do in us. We still practically consider ourselves a college band.” Though they may consider themselves a college band, the members are all several years out of school.

Ruymen and Schober attended The College of New Jersey in Trenton, while Liberatore attended film school in NYC. They all now hold other jobs besides the band, though they have lofty goals for Almost Green.

When asked where he hoped to see the band in five years, Ruymen said, “I hope we’re playing Novafest again, but this time at the night show.”

Almost Green’s second album is nearly finished and is scheduled to be released later this summer. They are currently playing shows in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey area.

And just for the record, the song that Ruymen listens to in the shower and is embarrassed to admit, except to the Villanovan because he loves us, is “S.O.S.” by Rhianna.