Colossal (09 février 2005)

Nous nous sommes entretenus avec le groupe Colossal récemment. Le groupe, qui a déjà joué à l'X, propose un son punk unique qui inclut même des trompettes. Voici ce que Patrick, chanteur du groupe, avait à dire.

Could you tell us a little bit about where Colossal’s from, how long you’ve been together and the past accomplishments of the band?

Colossal is from Elgin, Illinois, which is about 40 miles northwest of Chicago. All current and past members have lived in Elgin at one time or another, except Neil Hennessy, who’s just the second drummer anyway. We’ve been together for about 4 years, though we’ve had a few different bass players and we’ve added a second drummer, as I mentioned. We’ve released an EP, a full-length, a few songs on comps, and done 4 tours in the U.S., one of which took us through Eastern Canada.

In a short time, Colossal has managed to create a truly unique sound, a thing that most bands can’t even acheived after several years. How do you write your songs, where does the inspiration mainly come from?

The primary method of our songwriting is this : Jason, the guitarist/trumpter, or I will bring in a skeleton of a song with several parts and a rough idea of an arrangement. We show it to the other members, they create their own parts, and together we refine and refine until we come up with a version that we’re all happy with. We try not to step on each others’ toes about parts, but we don’t hold back from constructive criticism either. For me, the inspiration is really from any sound or music that creates an enveloping and almost palpable mood, be it a pop song, a movie score, or any random noise or sound. Also, there are countless bands that have inspired us over the years, and we are attempting to carry on the spirit of those great bands.

I saw you when you played at l’X last year in Montreal with The Lawrence Arms. Even though you have a distinctive sound from the rest of the ‘punk’ scene, you did get a very good response from the kids. How does that happen?

Gosh, I don’t know. I’m not ashamed to say that we try to write songs that are interesting to us, so it’s nice when other people like it too. We are all critical music listeners ourselves, and we have faith that much of our audience is too. It’s invigorating to get a positive response from a discriminating crowd as well as a crowd that may be typically content with some sort of punk status quo.

Why is it that so few bands dare to incorporate horns into their songs? Last Summer did it with amazing results, but very few bands go to that extra step.

I suppose some bands may fear they will get branded as ska simply for having a horn in their band, ska being pretty uncool these days. Some critics have suggested that we’re influenced by ska, but obviously they’re not listening too hard. Sweep The Leg Johnny was a totally amazing band that used a horn in a very unconventional but very successful way. A concise answer to your question is this: they’re wimps.

You have a new record out, Welcome The Problems. Was it that hard to record it?

It wasn’t terribly hard to record it, but most of us do get a bit anxious once the tape starts rolling. Our engineer, Scott Adamson, made it pretty easy for us to be relaxed. We spent a little more money on that recording, so we had the luxury of a few more days to think over what we’d done and where we were going with it.

Who produced that album, what is the response you got so far from the kids?

Scott Adamson recorded the album at Semaphore in Chicago. The response so far has been great. The positive feedback has far outweighed the negative and we’re excited to keep touring and playing the songs.

What are the themes of the albums, the messages behind the music?

It’s hard to generalize the themes or messages behind the music, because each song has a variety of themes and messages going on. To be totally honest, my approach to lyric writing is to be both very personal and ambiguous at the same time, so something that may be terribly personal to me can seem less opaque to listeners and can be interpreted in a variety of ways, which may differ from what I originally inteded. The title, «Welcome the Problems», is definitely a guiding theme of the record, though its application to the meanings of individual songs is sometimes vague or non-existent, in all honesty. I love the idea that you can whittle positivity and style from problems. It’s a great refuge for someone who grew up very cynical but is trying to eke out some sort of optimism as an adult.

How is your association with Asian Man Records? Rob has been in two bands that produced albums with that label. Is that the reason why you chose them over others?

When we were first starting out, we were moving at a snail’s pace writing songs and playing shows, mainly because we all had full time jobs. We knew it would be a long shot for us to even try to persuade a label to put their money into a band couldn’t tour to support a record, no matter how much they liked us. Luckily, Rob has been friends with Asian Man Records’ owner Mike Park for many years and Mike was daring enough to put out our first EP, which sold more than expected, so he took the chance on the full-length. Asian Man is a great label – extremely nice and honest, and they have great distribution. Our style of music doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of their roster, but that hasn’t seemed to hurt us too much.

Your website offers quite a few songs from your current cd -- is it important for you guys to give everyone a chance to hear what Colossal is all about? What’s your take on internet piracy?

Yeah it’s important to have free songs available on the internet. It’s the best way to find out about new bands without leaving the house. I say, Internet piracy is fine – free the music. But I am not someone who burns a ton of CD’s or downloads tons of songs. I listen to see what’s out there, but if I like it, I’ll buy it in the store.

If you had to add an instrument to your band (different from the ones you already have), which one would you choose and why?

It would probably be someone who plays synths/loops/samples. We already put some of that stuff on our records, so it’d be nice to have someone to do that live who really knows what they’re doing - and has great taste, of course.

What quote first comes to your mind?

« Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body? I dunno. »

When I think of Canada, I think of…

DeGrassi, socialized health care, Propagandhi, Julie Doiron, Do Make Say Think, Rockets Red Glare, Poutine, Pizza Pizza…

If you had to put out a benefit show, what would it be for, and what bands would play?

I think the benefit show would be to raise money for underfunded Public Schools in the U.S. The bands would be The Smiths (reunited), Pavement (with Gary Young), C-Clamp, The Regrets, Julie Doiron, Fugazi, The Dead Milkmen, Ida (with Miggy on drums), LaBradford, Hoover, Smoking Popes (c. 1993), and Colossal (sucking very bad in comparison to everyone else).

Can you tell me about any upcoming bands from your area that we should check out?

Yes! Check out The Wildcats and No Funeral.

Any last words / plans for the year ahead?

We plan on doing a tour with the Alkaline Trio at the end of April and to tour the U.S. this summer. We’d love to come back to Canada, but I must admit that that would be financially irresponsible at this point. We’re actually starting to write new music now, so come see us play new songs at shows.

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