HEADSHRINKERS

Headshrinkers band photo

HEADSHRINKERS (l-r, clockwise from bottom left): Matt Whalen (drums), Xavier “Xav” Al-Naqib (bass), Garran Hickman (vocals), James Knott (guitar)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

PHOTO by ROSIE MULHERN

From the West Midlands, indie/punk four-piece Headshrinkers formed in 2018 with a determination to craft great songs, and perform live sets that would leave a lasting impression on audiences everywhere.

Last year, the band unveiled ‘Underclass‘, their debut single, to a positive response, and having just brought out its follow-up track, ‘Where She Plays‘, they chatted to me about such things as that, lyrical influences, future plans, and more.

How did the band initially form?

Aside from knowing of each other for most of their lives, living in the small town of Wall Heath, Garran and James properly met in their local pub, and he told James that they needed to start a band together. A few days later, they started writing tunes, then they recruited Xav and Matt, and it all went from there.

How did the name Headshrinkers come about?

We found the word written on a 1950’s flyer from a cinema, which was located in Stourbridge town centre, and is now demolished.

No, we’re only joking! Actually, there’s not much of an interesting story to the name, it’s an Oasis song. We’re not even huge fans of Oasis, but we thought that it would be a cool band name. It also happens to be the name of some kind of wrestling team from the 1980’s, although we weren’t aware of that until afterwards.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

Lyrics are really important to us. Garran writes the lyrics as poetry, which we then put to music as a band. At the moment, we’re experimenting with different sounds and styles.

What inspires the band lyrically?

GARRAN HICKMAN (vocals): I try and mirror myself when writing. My lyrics seem to be quite self-destructive at times, so I don’t know what that says about myself. Maybe I’m a bit awkward, or maybe a little weird, I don’t know.

I also try to capture modern life, as I think it’s important that we all address how we are currently feeling at this present time. Everyone should be honest with themselves.

Last year, you brought out your debut single, ‘Underclass’. How was the reaction to it, for you all personally?

The reaction was brilliant, and we were buzzing with the support we received. We hadn’t been a band for very long when we released it, and the first time we got played on the radio, we were all listening to it together, really excited. That really gave us a push to want to keep going bigger.

The band recently unveiled a new track, ‘Where She Plays’. How was the recording process for that?

We recorded with Gav Monaghan at Magic Garden in Wolverhampton. Gav is a brilliant producer, he really knows how to get the best out of a track, and us as band. We knew how we wanted it to sound going into the studio, and it came out sounding even better. He’s worked with so many great artists, so it was a pleasure to be able to work with him, and so easily, too. Gav is the fifth Shrinker.

And how does your latest release differ stylistically to ‘Underclass’?

Where She Plays‘ is more melodic than ‘Underclass‘. ‘Underclass‘ came at a time when we were all angry about what was going on politically, where as ‘Where She Plays‘ is a bit more introspective. As a band, we never want to do the same thing twice, and our sound has been evolving since we formed.

You have been getting a reputation for putting on live sets that are frantic and forceful. How is the experience – for you all – of playing on stage?

GARRAN: Once I enter the stage, I have to be the best, I have to give it everything I’ve got. I can’t do anything else. That stage is mine. When I see James, Xav, and Matt giving it their all, I have to step it up a level.

We put everything into our live shows, as it’s so important for us to make the whole show something special, and more than just the music.

Now that the single has come out, what are the band’s plans for the near future? 

We’re planning on growing our fanbase throughout the UK. We want to constantly improve by trying different sounds, and trying to write better songs. There is no better feeling than when you have just written your best song to date, hence why we are constantly writing. It’s become almost like an addiction, and we’re way beyond obsessed.

And lastly, what is your long-term aim?

To be the best British punk band the world has ever seen.

Headshrinkers Single Cover

‘WHERE SHE PLAYS’ – THE LATEST SINGLE FROM HEADSHRINKERS – IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

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NIGHT THIEVES

Night Thieves band photo

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

London four-piece Night Thieves – comprising of vocalist Jess Moyle, guitarist Paul Andrew, bassist Rick Wall, and drummer Chris Coello – have combined dynamic, melodic rock with undertones of pop and metal to bring to the table a truly unique sound.

Having just unveiled a debut EP, ‘Battle Cry‘, the band spoke to us about its recording process, what their fan base can expect from the release, and much more.

How did the band initially form?

We formed two years ago. Jess and Rick were looking for a guitarist/songwriter to start a new project. Paul got in touch, had an audition, and then we went from there, writing as much as possible.

How did the name Night Thieves come about?

Choosing a name took us ages! There must have been over 100 ideas on our WhatsApp group, and every time someone came up with a good one that we all liked, it had already been taken by several other bands.

Anyway, eventually we came up with the name on a night in the pub, and we were inspired by the orange glow over London at night, and the lights that take away the night. It has nothing to do with burglary!

What are the band’s main musical influences?

We all listen to a wide range of music, from pop to hardcore. Everyone brings their own influences to the band, and that blend gives us a unique sound. There’s a couple of tracks on our EP where you can probably pick out some pop and metal influences.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

The main thing is to write songs that are enjoyable for us to play. Our songwriting process starts by WhatsApp-ing ideas. Either Rick sends basslines, or even a whole song written on bass, or Paul puts together a basic song structure with full production in Logic Pro. Ideas will go back and forth until we are ready to jam them out in the studio, and then, we’ll record a demo as a band.

What inspires the band lyrically?

Anything. We’re not a political band, and we don’t really get too deep. Jess has got quite a unique writing style, and the lyrics usually start with something relatable, a feeling or a topic, something to talk about that starts an idea or what that could mean, or how people perceive things. They tend to be fables that play out the life you choose.

You have just brought out ‘Battle Cry’, your debut EP, which has been produced by Jason Wilson (Fightstar, Dinosaur Pile-Up, As It Is). How was the recording process for that?

Great fun, but Jason made us work hard for it, in a good way! Before we entered the studio, we recorded our own pre-production to use as guide tracks. That was a huge time-saver, and it gave us room to experiment. The drums went down first, then bass, with the main guitars following, and then the rest of the session alternated between guitars and vocals.

There wasn’t any major changes, but Jason had some great ideas with different beats and tweaks to some guitar and vocal sections, which really made the tracks pop. It was a really nice vibe in the studio.

And what can the band’s fan base expect from it?

Hopefully, something a bit different, and a good intro to what we’re about. There are four tracks that have their own identity. There’s lush ambience, catchy melodies, and some heavier moments, for example, ‘In This City (Say Never)’ is a track where you can hear a range of influences going on.

You have performed live at such London venues as the Hope And Anchor, The Water Rats, and the New Cross Inn. How is the experience – for you all – of playing on stage?

It’s the best part about being in a band! Our songs have a lot of energy, we always give a performance to match it, and now we have our music out there, we’re really looking forward to playing as many shows as possible.

Now that the EP has come out, what are the band’s plans for the near future?

Coming up are two more music videos, and we also have a few shows lined up, including a show supporting Marisa And The Moths on April 2 at Nambucca in London. It has a great line-up, with The Dark and Finding Kate also on the bill.

And lastly, what is your long-term aim?

To keep having fun! We’re already planning our next release. We have another 10 songs, and 20+ ideas floating around that we’re working with. Ideally, we would like more music out before the end of this year. Beyond that, we want to keep building up our following, and seeing where that takes us.

Night Thieves EP Cover

‘BATTLE CRY’ – THE DEBUT EP FROM NIGHT THIEVES – IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

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FALSE HEARTS

False Hearts band photo

FALSE HEARTS (from l-r): Phil Benton (bass), Adi Bowes (drums), Emma Hodgson (vocals/guitar), Ali Westwood (guitar)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Specialising in a melodic but uncompromising rock sound, the stock of Cambridgeshire four-piece False Hearts has just kept on rising since the release, to wide acclaim, of 2018 debut, ‘Dirty Little Soul‘, performing hard-hitting sets at venues and festivals across the UK, and even managing to get one of their songs included in the soundtrack of a Hollywood film.

Now, with an eagerly-anticipated EP, ‘Remedy‘, coming out this April, the band shed some light on its recording process, what their rapidly-growing fan base can expect from the offering, and much more.

How did the band first get together?

Emma and Adi had met through a previous music project, but didn’t really know each other before that. We later met Ali through an advert, and after one meeting, we asked him to join the band. We later found a bassist from our local studio, however, he then chose to focus on his family and other projects, which is when we finally met Phil for an audition, and the rest is history!

How did the name False Hearts come about?

Ali came across a book of the same name whilst browsing in a library at his work. We were looking for a name at the time, and that was the one we all liked.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

It usually starts with a riff, and progresses from there. One of us will come to practice with a riff, we’ll start jamming it out, and then we’ll build the song structure from there.

It’s a great process, as it involves all of the band, and we all add our own little parts and character to each song. Some songs come together in half an hour, but with others, we have to thrash it out over weeks to get it right.

What inspires the band lyrically?

The lyrics come from from the feelings or emotions of the song, or what we’re going through at that time, we like to tell a story. The lyricists we admire are Brent Smith (Shinedown), Chris Robertson (Black Stone Cherry), and Chris Cornell (Audioslave/Soundgarden).

Recently, you unveiled a new single, ‘Misery Loves Company’. How has the response been to the track so far?

Amazing! It’s a scary moment releasing new music, as you never know how it will be received. We’ve had some great comments, and lots of radio play, so it doesn’t get better than that!

The song was taken from the band’s EP, ‘Remedy’, due out this April. How has the recording process been for that?

It’s been exciting! We really enjoyed the recording process, and working with our producer, Dan Lambert, at Valhalla Studios. Working with Dan was a great experience, as he pushed us and the songs to be the best they could possibly be, and in that sense, he became the fifth member of the band.

And how will the upcoming release differ stylistically to your 2018 debut release, ‘Dirty Little Soul’?

This new EP is a lot more “loud and proud“, compared to ‘Dirty Little Soul‘, and we think it more reflects where we are heading stylistically with our sound.

One of the band’s tracks, ‘Cynical Love’, featured on the soundtrack to Hollywood slasher horror film ‘The Strangers: Prey At Night‘. That must have felt good for you all.

Yes, it was very surreal, and hopefully, we can get a few more of our tracks onto the big screen!

You have performed at venues and festivals across the UK, and you have also supported the likes of Hollowstar and Building Giants. How were they as experiences?

It’s always a fantastic experience, as the rock community, overall, is incredible, and since starting this band, we have met some amazing people, and made even more friends.

Also, how is it overall playing live?

We love playing live, as for all of us, it’s the best part about being in a band.

And lastly, EP aside, what are the band’s plans for the near future?

We’ve got a number of amazing festivals coming up this year, including Crazy Cowboy Festival 5 and Hard Rock Hell, to name a couple, plus a few more big gigs we’re not allowed to talk about yet, so 2020 is looking to be an exciting year for us.

False Hearts EP Cover

‘REMEDY’ – THE NEW EP FROM FALSE HEARTS – WILL BE RELEASED ON APRIL 3, AND FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

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SUBCULTURE

SubCulture band photo

SUBCULTURE (from l-r): Dec Mills (drums) , Oli Orton (vocals/guitar), Lewis Smith (bass)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

From Nottingham, SubCulture are an emerging three-piece that effectively combine power-pop, punk, new wave, and British mod culture, resulting in a sound that is delivered with much energy and passion, which is also evident in their electric live sets.

With a new single, ‘Break Me Free/Think Again‘, coming out next week, and a debut album, ‘Tales Of A Teenage Mind‘, due for release later this year, the band’s vocalist/guitarist, Oli Orton, spoke to me about this and much more.

How did the band initially form?

It was during our third year of secondary school, and myself and Dec had chosen music as one of our options. Dec had to learn to play an instrument, so naturally, he decided to take up the drums, the loudest and wildest instrument there is, and I had been playing guitar for a while by that point, so we decided that we should get into our school’s practice room at lunchtimes, and start learning some songs.

Lewis steps into the picture when I was stood waiting for my guitar lesson one afternoon. His lesson was just before mine, so he came out, and I can’t remember how or what it was about, but we just got talking, and before we knew it, he was joining us in the practice room.

How did the name SubCulture come about?

Well, we had a few names when we first started out, about two or three different ones. I remember being stood in the kitchen one day, looking through a dictionary and a thesaurus, checking the synonyms of different words. I came across the word “subculture“, and thought, “That just sums us up“.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

I’ve never really thought about it before, but I would say that it’s very hard to write a song without an idea, and what that may be, which gives me the urge to write, can vary from a person to a feeling, to an image, to a quote, to a song, or to a chord progression.

They’re all ideas, and there’s plenty of them. Sometimes, they come easier than others, sometimes, they just don’t work, and sometimes, they work perfectly, for example, I have sat down and written a song in one go, without a single chord having been played, which I suppose you could class as a poetry.

Other times, the chords are the first embers of a song, but, like I say, it always starts with an idea. Actually, that’s something to think about next time you listen to your favourite song. Where did it come from? What was the idea behind it?

What inspires the band lyrically?

The things that happen in life. The trials and tribulations of it. Different thoughts and feelings. Social commentary. Story-telling. We especially like the British themes in songs, and The Kinks are big inspirations for us, as some of their songs, like ‘Shangri-La‘, ‘Strangers‘, and ‘Days‘ are rather mellow, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the lyrics are great, as they actually mean something, and even Two-Tone has some really great songwriting about the times and lives they were living or seeing. Also, it may come as a surprise to some, but I think Mike Peters of The Alarm is a brilliant songwriter, as he’s another one that writes from the heart.

It goes without saying that the lyrics in our songs are a BIG part of what makes the song, as after all, the lyrics are the reasoning. I could talk about lyrics all day, and start listing off songs that I think more people should appreciate their lyrical content, but if you want to know the short answer to that question, it would simply be: Lyrically, we’re inspired by life.

So far, you have brought out a string of single releases, the most recent being ‘Sound Of Truth/Ivory Tower’. How have the reactions been to them?

It’s been really good so far. Everyone seems to like the songs, which, of course, is always a great pleasure. Quite a few people have commented on the cover art for ‘Sound Of Truth‘, as it was taken right in front of the infamous Camden Lock bridge. That was an eventful day, as we took that photo at midday on a Saturday in London, and had to wheel a 4×12 speaker cabinet through the busy streets. The music video for that track happens to be my favourite, as well.

Also, we like to make sure our B-sides aren’t what is known as a “filler song“, because, as we all know, the A-side is meant to be the song that attracts the attention, but we don’t necessarily like to live by that rule, and we’ve met and heard from lots of people that their favourite song is actually a B-side, so it’s nice to see that people are enjoying the B-sides just as much.

And soon, the band will be unveiling their debut album, ‘Tales Of A Teenage Mind’. How has the recording process for that been?

It’s been great so far. We haven’t finished recording just yet, as we have got a few more songs to get done. It excites us to think that what we’re recording at that very moment, while we’re in the studio, will one day be heard by the public, and recording the album has also proven to be a very good learning curve for us.

Also, when are you currently planning to get the album by?

Our plan of action says this November…so November will be the month to watch.

Since forming, the band have played somewhere in the region of 300 gigs across the UK. What have your main highlights of performing live?

Having the opportunity to play The Dublin Castle in Camden was brilliant, and we can’t wait to go back there this year. When we won the competition to perform on the main stage of the Derbyshire Sausage and Cider Festival, that was a great gig. The Isle Of Wight Lambretta Day & Scooter Rally was a fantastic experience, another one we are looking forward to returning to, and we played a scooter rally near Derby last year, the night before my 18th birthday. That was an amazing gig, the hall was rammed, and we had just as much fun off-stage as we did on.

And how is the overall experience of playing on stage for you all?

It’s electric, and always will be for us, as quite frankly, it’s the best part of being in a band, and it’s where we feel most at home. We realised very early on that we feed off of the crowd, and in moments when there’s a crowd of entirely new faces in front of us, we, as a band, have this strong urge to just get on stage and prove ourselves, as there are so many bands out there, we see it as trying to make our mark.

However, on the other hand, when there’s a crowd of people that are having a good time from the first word, it’s almost like the energy is contagious, from both us and the crowd. We’re feeding off of their energy, and they’re feeding off of ours. Playing live offers moments that are simple but brilliant to be a part of.

Album aside, what are the band’s plans for the near future?

Well, we will be releasing three singles throughout this year, and in the run-up to the release of the album, with The first of these, ‘Break Me Free‘, being released on February 28.

Other than that, we will be working on keeping up our appearance, stepping up our game, getting out to play more places, to more people, and growing our audience.

We’re looking forward to playing at The Dublin Castle four times this year, the first being on February 22, which has now sold-out, so that’s going to be a really good night, and we’ve got other big, exciting news in the pipeline that we can’t talk about yet, but rest assured, it’s got us very excited.

And lastly, what is your long-term aim?

To just keep going. We don’t want to rest on our laurels, we want to keep progressing forward however we can. The future’s our aim! It’s all or nothing!

SubCulture Single Cover

‘BREAK ME FREE/THINK AGAIN’ – THE NEW SINGLE FROM SUBCULTURE – WILL BE RELEASED ON FEBRUARY 28 VIA HEAVY SOUL! RECORDS, AND FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

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THE CRYPTICS

The Cryptics band photo

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Since forming back in 2008, New Hampshire collective The Cryptics have spent the majority of their time either touring the US and a host of other countries, or honing an energetic, melodic punk sound.

Having recently unveiled third album, ‘Continuous New Behavior‘ – currently getting good reviews – and about to embark on another American tour, the outfit’s frontman, Tino Valpa, spoke to me about those, their experiences supporting the likes of the Dead Kennedys, as well as a range of other band-related topics.

How did the band first get together?

Myself and my best friends, Frank and Brandt, started playing instruments. It was the only thing we did besides skateboarding, biking, and trampolining. Holy shit, we were not good when we started.

How did the name The Cryptics come about?

The word “cryptic” was a word in my eighth grade vocab book. I decided to name the band that in, like, five seconds, and have never questioned it since.

What are the band’s main musical influences?

In terms of influences that actually somewhat trail into our sound, I would say The Ramones, Dead Kennedys, Misfits, Descendents, TSOL, Wipers, Joy Division…the list goes on, but there are so many influences that aren’t punk, but they don’t transcend into our sound, even though they do influence us greatly. Andy loves a lot of Motown groups, we all love new wave and melodic 80’s rock, and I’m a huge fan of smooth jazz, 80’s/90’s video game soundtracks, swing, etc. We’re kind of weird, but also, hell yeah.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

It just happens. The riff comes to me, and I need to get to a guitar quickly. Sometimes, it also comes at random when playing, and I will need to document it really quickly. Other times, if I have something going, I’ll purposely try to come up with more parts.

All of these methods work fine. I love to write. Writing and producing have always been something that feels really good to me, and it’s something that I love to do.

What inspires the band lyrically?

It’s impossible to answer this, as I’m inspired by anything I might find interesting, important, or intriguing, and I can’t really add more than that because it’s too broad.

You recently unveiled your third album, ‘Continuous New Behavior’. How was the recording process for that?

Very swift. There was a lot of preparation with demoing it out first and critiquing, but as far as the final studio tracking was concerned, everyone really nailed their parts really quickly, therefore, the recording process didn’t take a long time.

Andy threw down the drums like nobody’s business, Anthony fired out the bass parts swiftly, and especially for the amount of detail he added to the record, I’m surprised how quickly the tracking came together. Frank laid down a bunch of great guitar solos in no time, we had a lot to pick from. I did rhythms in a day, and vocals took, like, two sessions, so all in all, it was a pretty smooth and timely process, which is not always the case.

And how has the initial response been to the release?

It’s been fantastic, as we really didn’t expect anything. The music video singles have been doing really well, more people are watching than ever before, and we couldn’t be happier about it. There have been a lot of kind words from people from all over the place. We truly appreciate the great support thus far, and it’s only been out for a couple of weeks!

The band have toured across the US, Europe, Mexico, and Cuba, and have also supported the likes of the Dead Kennedys and Guttermouth. How were they as experiences?

All of these tours were different experiences. The direct supports were great, because obviously, you get to play in front of larger crowds, and with the internationals, you see things you’ve never seen in your life. They’re all great in their own ways.

Also, how is it overall playing live?

It’s fun, as long as we play well, and there’s energy from the audience. If a show is dead, or if there’s people there, but no-one’s receptive, then it’s not a good time, therefore, I appreciate the good shows more than ever.

I could care less about playing just to play, as I want it to be good, and I want to feel an energy in the room. If the crowd has energy, it bounces off us, and amplifies right back to them. It’s a trade-off.

And lastly, now that the album has come out, what are your plans for the near future?

We’re going to tour many different places in support of this album, and that’s what we’ve got on our plate for the rest of this year. There’s also going to be some great stuff being announced over the next couple of months!

The Cryptics Album Cover

‘CONTINUOUS NEW BEHAVIOR’ – THE LATEST ALBUM FROM THE CRYPTICS – IS AVAILABLE NOW VIA PINE HILL RECORDS, AND THE BAND WILL BE EMBARKING ON A TOUR OF THE US LATER THIS MONTH TO PROMOTE IT, FURTHER INFO ON WHICH CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

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COLOR COLLAGE – PART 2

Color Collage Single Cover

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

SINGLE COVER ARTWORK by PEN WILLIAMSON

In the second of a two-part interview, Shane Conerty, founder and frontman of New York City indie-pop collective Color Collage, spoke to me about the band’s new single, ‘What A Time To Be Alive‘, the experiences of playing live, and their plans for the near future.

In 2015, you brought out a debut album, ‘Pieced Together’. How was the reaction to the release?

It topped the charts pretty quickly. Went to number 1 in three weeks. Okay, I’ll be serious. The album, ‘Pieced Together‘, was an important exercise for me, as I wanted to prove that I could make a solo record after being in a band for so long.

It showed some evolution from my previous stuff, and I think that’s one of the most important aspects of any artist. You’ve gotta keep growing! Not only as a songwriter, but as a person.

Anyways, I have to give credit to Paper Garden Records. Bryan and Heidi really helped me get the project off the ground, and I’m grateful for that. My buddy Caleb has always been in my corner, and I appreciate that, but overall, I think there was a pretty positive reaction. Millions of streams daily.

The band have just unveiled a new single, ‘What A Time To Be Alive’. How has the recording process been for that?

It was kind of a long process, actually. I recorded a demo of it in October 2017, and at the time, it was an acoustic folky version that kinda sounded like that song by Bright Eyes, ‘First Day Of My Life‘. Conor Oberst is my favourite songwriter, so that’s to be expected, I guess.

Fast forward to 2018, and I brought the song to an early line-up of the band. We messed around with different feels and genre, settling on this kinda groovy Motown Gospel thing, I guess you’d call it?

Once it was ready, we took the song to my friend Vishal, who has a studio called The Black Lodge in Brooklyn. We tracked all the music in a half-day, mostly live, and then overdubbed the vocals.

Months later, after Mel and Kim, aka The Foxy Johnstons (check them out), joined the band, we recorded all the background vocals at my apartment. Two Dougs worked on the song, too. Doug Moss mixed it, and Doug Van, and the rest, as they say, is history.

And how does the new track differ stylistically to your first album?

Drastically. My first album was straight-up electronic pop. I came up with the genre of “electronic doo-wop” to describe it to people. It’s completely different now, because it’s not just me and my lofty backing tracks anymore.

The musicians I play with have changed the sound, obviously, but they’ve also changed the way I write songs, as now, I’m thinking of them while I’m writing and saying to myself, “He can do this, or she can sing that“, whereas before, I would write a song on guitar, and then come up with a backing track, so I could play it live. I’m just so glad that I don’t have to spend 40-50 hours making a track every time I write a new song any more. These days, I will demo a new song on my phone, make a chord chart, send it off to the band, and then we’ll work on it in practice and shape it there.

I feel honoured that the people in the band are willing to practice my songs once a week. It’s a good feeling! They call me “Dad” in the band, and I really do feel like a proud dad, as they’re all such quick learners, so I’m always bringing new songs to the table, but to answer the actual question, it varies significantly.

The band have performed at venues in New York City. How – for you all – is the experience of playing live?

I love playing shows with this band. It feels great. It’s all the other stuff that goes along with it that’s hard in NYC, as no matter what day your show is, there will always be something else going on. People are busy here, and it’s tough to get people to come out and show up. There’s so many bands in the city, but it’s all worth it when you have a good show, and you’re reminded of why you’re doing all this in the first place.

For me, it’s because I love music. The goal is to once again support myself by playing music, but I might have to move somewhere else to do it (laughs). I used to live in Vancouver, and it’s very nice there. Just saying.

And lastly, single aside, what are your plans for the near future?

Well, we’ve got an animated lyric video for the single coming out on March 1, which was done by this great artist named Travis Adenau. Check him out.

Besides that, we try to play one show a month and practice once a week to stay tight. We’ve got plans to record a few more songs to get an EP together, and then try to find a new label to help out with that. Maybe find some bands we like to go on tour with. Basically, just do as much as we can before the inevitable downfall of society (laughs). We’re gonna keep in slightly positive in 2020!

‘WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE’ – THE LATEST SINGLE FROM COLOR COLLAGE – IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

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COLOR COLLAGE – PART 1

Color Collage band photo

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

PHOTO by WILL OLIVER

Having started out as a solo project of New York City musician Shane Conerty, Color Collage has gradually evolved into a tight-knit six-piece that effectively combine musical influences, both classic and contemporary, to bring to the table a melodic indie-pop sound, accompanied by personal but relatable lyrical content.

In the first of a two-part interview, Shane spoke to me about the band’s origins, musical and lyrical inspirations, and songwriting approach.

How did the band initially form?

Color Collage started as a solo project way back in 2013. I had just moved back to New York City after living in Asheville, North Carolina playing full-time in a band called Now You See Them. I also had a side project during that time called LEANN GRIMES, where I sampled popular indie music and did electronic remixes of them.

Back in NYC, I started writing songs about my experiences and the band breaking up, and I didn’t have a new band to play said songs with, so I changed the name to Color Collage, and started making backing tracks on my computers that were big arrangements with a lot going on to take the place of a band.

I did that for a few years, and when I would play to the backing tracks live, people would always say they thought it was cool, but it would be better with a band, so after hearing that many times, I figured I should try to make it happen.

My girlfriend, Kyra, had a huge part in the current line-up, as she introduced me to our bassist Jeremiah, and our keys guy Mason. I actually found our drummer Wave on Craigslist, and months later, I met Mel and Kim at an Aretha Franklin tribute show, we became fast friends, they joined the group, and the rest, as they say, is history.

How did the name Color Collage come about?

Like I mentioned, I was making remixes as a hobby under the admittedly silly name of LEANN GRIMES. As I started writing more new songs, and was planning to release them online, I figured I should come up with a better name, so I made a list on my phone of potential names, which I wish I still had somewhere (laughs).

Anyways, I sat down at my computer and started googling the list to see if the names were taken, which a fair amount of them were, so I decided on Color Collage, partly because I like the alliteration and imagery it implies.

Another factor in choosing that name was that I wanted my graphic designer pal Pen Williamson (who is an amazing collage artist among many things) to have a platform to just go nuts, and come up with the most colourful and vibrant images he could. He’s done the art for all of my projects for the past ten years, including Now You See Them.

Just a quick shoutout to Ducli and Jason from that band, because they basically raised me, but that’s another story for another time.

What are the band’s main musical influences?

Literally all music. I’m obsessive about finding new music. I try to find something that I’ve never heard before every single day, be it modern or otherwise. Lately, I’ve done a deep-dive into the music of the 1970’s, and I think you can pretty clearly hear the influence in our new songs.

It’s interesting too, because all of the members come from pretty different backgrounds musically. Jeremiah has played in much louder and faster bands, Mason has a jazz background, Wave has this natural swing in his playing, and Mel and Kim add this soulful bluesy aspect that has really changed the band’s sound for the better.

It all kinda comes together to make this weird amalgamation of styles, and that’s why it’s been kind of difficult to describe the band’s genre, because we’re doing a lot of genre-hopping from song to song. I would love to hear what our fans would call it, actually.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

I really just try to write songs that are personal, but also relatable. I write about my own life, I write about society, I’ve written a concept EP about cults where each song is about a different cult from a different perspective (leader, follower, ex-member).

Nothing’s off-limits to me, anymore, as a few years ago, I decided to let go of the reservations I had about writing too personally or honestly, and now, I’m hyper honest. I’ve been writing like no-one’s going to listen or read it, and that’s a very freeing feeling.

As far as the process goes, sometimes, I’ll catch the inspiration from the ether, and an entire song will fall out in, like, 20 minutes. My approach lately has been to come up with a progression or melody, record it on my phone, and then walk home from work, writing to it in my headphones on my notepad. A good amount of my songs have been worked on like that since I’ve been back in NYC.

What inspires the band lyrically?

A lot of the stuff I just mentioned above. Honestly, death is probably the thing I write the most about, probably because I’m scared of it, like a lot of people are. My songs tend to be morbid, but if you’re not listening too closely, you’ll be tricked into thinking it’s a happy uplifting song by the music. My things has always been sad words, happy music.

The newest song set has a few themes tying it all together. Technology and the effect it has on society is a big one, as I think the internet is both the best and worst thing to ever happen to humanity, and the way things are looking, it’ll probably be our downfall.

Although I write a lot about negative things, I always try to instill a little bit of hope or positivity into my songs, but usually, it’s a very small amount (laughs). For example, we have a song called ‘Tired Of Living (This Way)‘. See, slightly positive!

That’s our new genre, Slightly Positive.