Putting in hard work on the road and in the studio for more than a decade, Paul Hoffman and his band, Greensky Bluegrass, have watched audience sizes and stages grow exponentially over the years. 2016 is a big year for the band and its fans, as they ready a new studio album for the fall, prepare for their first headlining show at the legendary Colorado venue Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and lay the groundwork for the next step in the evolution of the band. With a fall tour just announced and tons of festival appearances on the way, including sets at The Werk Out Festival, North Coast Music Festival, Suwannee Hulaween and more, there’s just no stopping Greensky Bluegrass!One of the biggest factors in that idiosyncratic sound is the dexterous mandolin playing and the passionate singing and song writing of Mr. Hoffman. Between his lightning fast fret work and his heart-wrenching wails of pain and effusive cries of joy, each Greensky show is an emotional roller coaster of music and mayhem. Our own Rex Thomson caught up with Hoffman, to discuss his thoughts on the state of all things Greensky Bluegrass.Read on for the exclusive!Live For Live Music: You guys have been teasing songs from a new album coming this fall. How excited are you to have new material out there?Paul Hoffman: I’m really excited to share it. I’m happy with the album and all the songs. These songs are all new this time, which is something we haven’t done before. We did start playing a couple of them…three of them total, but other than that they’re all new songs. That’s cool. We haven’t done that before.L4LM: So you held songs back and haven’t played them yet. That had to be hard for you.PH: It’s not easy. It really helps to get the record done and out there. I wanna play these songs. L4LM: How many songs would you say that you write in a year?PH: I’m not sure, really, but I am guessing not many compared to a lot of people. I haven’t really been writing a lot while we’ve been putting this new record together. There’s something about getting these songs out there…and there’s something about learning from playing songs and seeing where the tricks and the background of putting them together leads me to where the next song is coming from. Sitting on these songs has held me back in that area, if that makes any sense… L4LM: It does, but it’s possible that you personally not writing much could be a positive. Your songs are often gripping tales of emotion and woe. Should we be worried?PH: No. I’m okay. I’m very happy actually. When you talk about stories and novels and stuff like that…the general point of any good story is conflict. I look at songs in the same way.Check out “Burn Them” from Greensky Bluegrass’s epic opening day set from this year’s Summer Camp for a taste of Hoffman’s dark lyrical presence below:L4LM: Can you tell me a bit about your song-writing process? Do you set out with topic or riff in mind, or do you let whatever comes to you come?PH: That really depends. It varies all different ways. Sometimes I’ll sit down and start playing and spit out a verse, sometimes I’ll sit on that verse for awhile and think about it. Sometimes I write a bunch of stuff without music and then later when I am playing I mess around with it. Sometimes I have a specific thing to write about and I set out to write about that thing. It just really varies for me a lot. L4LM: Have you ever worried that, since you do such a great job of writing from a tortured perspective, that the band might try to depress you on purpose?PH: That is a great question! I hadn’t realized that until just nowL4LM: Will the tune you debuted on Jam Cruise be on the disc?PH: It’s called “Living Over” and yeah, it’s on there.Check out exclusive video of the song’s debut on Jam Cruise with Umphrey’s McGee keyboardist Joel Cummins on piano, below:L4LM: The name of the new album hasn’t been revealed….any chance on an exclusive?PH: Yeah, not sure if I can disclose that or not. All our big Hollywood suits have all these big plans for us and all…L4LM: Really?PH: No, not really.L4LM: That point can’t be too far away for you and Greensky. This weekend is a huge step for you and the band, headlining the legendary venue Red Rocks for the first time. That’s quite an accomplishment. Has the reality of it hit you yet?PH: It’s a pretty awesome feeling. It’s also a pretty humbling experience…y’know? I’m stoked to play Red Rocks this weekend, but kinda scared too. Lotta pressure. There’s a lot of people coming from far away to see us play, and that pressure is real. I mean, I’m not worried about it totally…it’s a little overwhelming.Oh, and we do still play Tuesdays in dive bars. It’s not all Red Rocks now. But I am excited, and the show is almost sold out. It’s a pretty amazing feeling.L4LM: You have Leftover Salmon on the bill with you there. One would suspect you’ll have a hard time keeping Vince Herman from barging in on you during your show.PH: I would suspect there are collaborations already in the works.L4LM: Your success is so well deserved, since it seems to come straight from your hard work. You guys have averaged over 100 shows for the last ten years, right?PH: In 2005, we started touring, and by 2006 we were playing around 150 shows a year.L4LM: Well…it’s understandable that you could be a little nervous playing a milestone venue like Red Rocks as the stars of the show, but it does sound like you’ve put in the time.PH: Yeah, we definitely have a lot of experience hours. And even though this is our first headlining show, this is the fourth time we’ve played Red Rocks. The first time was hard…it’s just so big and so powerful. It means so much to so many people it can just consume you. Luckily, having done it three times, I hope to be slightly more prepared. As prepared as you can be for something like that. Something as amazing as playing there.L4LM: You mentioned people coming from far away for the show. You have an amazingly dedicated fan base across the country and a crazy fan page online. Have you ever checked out the Camp Greensky page or keep tabs on your fan groups?PH: I’m familiar with stuff that goes on in there. Sometimes I even share things in there that we want folks to know about. They’re a good bunch, our fans, our friends…it’s a family. L4LM: So is there an official name for your fans?PH: We used to joke around about Camp Greensky, and it seems like that is sticking. It’s what we called a group of our friends at a show in ’04 or ’05 and it’s just been kinda adopted. L4LM: Greensky has some fun festival slots coming up in the second half of the year, including the North Coast Music Festival in Chicago. How did you end up on that varied line up?PH: Hey hey! We’re stoked to be playing with Umphrey’s McGee! Playing in Chicago is always a blast, for all our Chicago crew. And we’re playing for our friend Michael Berg of Silver Wrapper Productions. We’re always happy to play for him anywhere. I would carry him through the desert.L4LM: I’ve talked with bands who point to headlining Red Rocks as a milestone in their careers. Where do you want to go from here?PH: I’m excited about the record, obviously. There’s plenty of awesome venues we haven’t played yet. The Greek. I’d love to play The Greek. There’s festivals we haven’t played yet. Love to play The Gorge…that one is on my mind from seeing everybody’s Phish pictures…That would be sweet.I really just want to keep bringing people joy. I want to continue the growth path we’ve been on. We haven’t been an overnight success but there’s been enough growth to keep us happy and secure, and to give us a chance to get better at what we do. We’re comfortable and we’re happy and more of that is really all I could hope for. L4LM: You play a intensive instrument, the mandolin. You have to regularly serve the rhythm and switch to picking leads, all while singing! Do you ever get the feeling you’re working too hard?L4LM: No, I’m not working at all. Hardly workin’ really. I like to joke about it…I call it “the Office” when I go to the show. It puts it into perspective for me.L4LM: Greensky has a fun little transitional song that has evolved from a joke into a really fun part of the show. It’s a call and response bit between you and Anders Beck called “Fo Sho, Uh Huh.” Do you guys have any sort of plan what you’re going to talk about, or is it just a free-for-all?PH: It’s just whatever he wants to ask me, and it’s also never on the set list…it’s just something we play sometimes. It started as a joke. The questions came spontaneously one night when we were playing something else…the music came out of a sound check jam. But you know…it’s nice to break up a set that can be pretty serious with a bit of silly. It’s nice when we can remind people we’re a bit silly…when so much of what we do is heavy. Dark, even.Here’s a fun version of “Fo Sho, Uh Huh” with Keller Williams from this Summer Camp earlier this year:L4LM: What is it about musicians and Reno? Johnny Cash shot a guy to watch him due and apparently if your song “Jaywalking” is to be believed someone is looking for ya? Is it just a country-bluegrass thing or what?PH: I think it’s more a Reno thing. It’s just out there in the middle of the desert. We never really specified WHAT part of Reno was on our trail. I mean…if you put your mind to the kinda possibilities that could be there…but I think there’s just something about all that gambling in the desert without any of the glory or prestige of Vegas. I guess it’s easy for people to get in trouble in Reno…Check out their tune “Jaywalking” below:L4LM: Say no more. Well, thanks for taking a few minutes out of your Red Rocks prep to chat with us! Have a great show, and good luck with everything!PH: Thanks, I appreciate it.