Interview: Colorworks

Hey guys!

I'll be honest with you, I've forgotten how enjoyable written interviews can be!
I feel like I've gotten carried away with the fast paced aspects of video and phone (audio) interviews. They are a lot of fun and I love, love, love producing them.

However it's unbelievably calming to just sit down and conceive an email interview.
It allows the bands to take a bit more time and to really get deep and detailed with their answers.

Obviously, that's a great thing and therefore I'm super stoked to present you an interview with Colorworks today!

Colorworks are a four piece band from Seattle, USA.
They describe their sound as psychedelic breakup Pop, if that sounds confusing to you- they'll be explaining that in the interview.

With their energetic live shows and their EPs (Joyla Red, Dreams of Mangoes), the band easily built themselves a loyal fanbase.

Colorworks are:
Bret Dylan (guitar & vocals)
Nick Myette (bass & vocals)
David Easton (guitar & keys)
Andrew Ginn (drums & percussion)

In our interview below, the band chats about the 60's, their gear, how a lemon scented spray cleaner almost knocked the band out and a lot more!
Enjoy reading!

house in the sand: Hi Colorworks, thanks for taking the time to chat to us!
Your recent The Kinks medley is great! I've read you started out with the intention to do a lot of 60's covers- did those covers ever influence your own sound?

Colorworks: Without a doubt. Our intention in the beginning was to learn a number of our favorite songs from the 1960's to learn *how* to be a pop band. Andrew (drums), Nick (vocals, bass) and I (Bret  - vocals, guitar) grew up on punk rock, and though we all had done different kinds of musical projects over the years, none of us had ever actually had the experience of playing bright, jangling chords over a simple pop beat.
I remember the first time we were playing "California Dreamin'" and I thought "Wow, this song works so well, and the arrangement is so simple!". Of course the music is the easy part to that song, the vocals on the other hand took a good long while. But that was our entire incubation stage, and we still learn covers to continue having the experience of playing great songs, because you can't substitute that experience. When it comes to our original songs, we definitely look to older records for inspiration.

HITS: When it comes to your own material; which topics do you find yourself writing about the most?

Colorworks: I seem to have a hard time writing anything other than first person, though that isn't from a lack of trying! Nick is a bit freer in terms of perspective, though all our songs tend to be very personal. When we first started this band, Nick and I both were reeling from relationships that ended on bad terms, and so our first EP "Joyla Red" is all relationship songs. We joke that our genre is "psychedelic breakup pop" because it seems every other song is a failed relationship song, even when the music is upbeat, à la Smokey Robinson.
We're both in better places now and so lyrically we've been exploring our childhood a bit. We're both from Seattle, so green trees, lakes and mountains have been a part of our lives since we could remember. Our next record will have a good amount of nature vibes on it, along with relationships, of course, haha.

HITS: Do you have your go-to gear? Are there any brands you prefer using?

Colorworks: Absolutely. We can't seem to stop modifying our gear, actually. David (vocals, guitar, keys) plays through a Vox AC15 modded by our friend and producer, Andrew Bloom, with a Celestion speak and better tubes, and that amp just kicks.
I had the stock P90s swapped out of my Epiphone Casino for Seymour Duncans and the difference is night and day.
We also love vintage gear, when we can afford it, I'm keen on old Ampeg guitar amps and play primarily through a 1965 Ampeg Gemini I.
David plays a 1967 Guild Starfire IV and I just picked up a 1969 Harmony Sovereign which will play a big role on our next record. I don't think it's coincidental that we play gear from the 60's, haha. Vintage gear has tons of mojo to it, but it's so damn expensive that I guess we are attracted to the ugly ducklings rather than the big name companies, as much as we'd like to have that gear as well. But I swear those old Ampeg Gems have cleans that would make a new Fender Twin blush.

Nick plays through Fender Jazz basses and an Ampeg Portaflex on stage. And we've been lucky getting access to a great little old Ampeg bass amp in the studio that punches like a lightweight boxing champion. Andrew is sponsored by Allegra Drums from Portland, and how he will tell you about his feisty little kit...

Andrew: I was lucky enough to receive an artist endorsement from Allegra last October. I play a custom kit from their "Big Baby" series. All drums in this series have shallow depths. My current setup is a 22x10(!) kick, 12x7 rack and a 15x11 floor tom. They are currently building me a custom 14x7 snare drum which I am way too excited to get my hands on. My current snare assortment is a limited edtion 14x6.5 DW Neil Peart Time Machinest (only 40 ever made!) which I played for a while until I tracked down a 1970 14x5 Ludwig Acrolite that I absolutely LOVE! As for cymbals - they are a combination of Zildjian and Istanbul hi hats. I am currently on a kick to seek out new sounds. My current cymbals are over 10 years old from when I was a teenager and didn't know any better.
Hardware - I use nothing but DW 9000 series cymbal stands and pedals. They are super stout and I don't have worry anything moving. Also, the memory locks are clutch for setting up quickly with having to do all sorts of little adjustments to get them just right.

HITS: Take us behind the scenes- how often do you rehearse and what does a typical Colorworks band practise look like?

Colorworks: We typically practice three times a week with a good amount of this and that between. We actually play DI-ed through headphones, completely out of necessity due to a sweet, but crotchety old neighbor, and we swear by it. Not only are we not killing our ears, we can hear the big picture so much better and give special focus to the harmonies - which have always been a work in progress. Andrew plays a Ludwig Questlove kit in practice that has mesh heads and Zildjian L80 (low volume) cymbals that is something like 20% of the volume of a standard kit. It allows him to play as he normally would, without disturbing the fragile peace we live in.

I think we're very methodical with how we practice. Every new song is charted by David in concert tuning for reference, which is always an interesting exercise in transposition because we both play our guitars tuned a whole step down and often use capos. We use a metronome in practice when we're refining a song, and will often do something like play the song at half speed and bring it up by 5 BPMs each successive repetition - a technique we learned from Steve Smith of the Seattle Drum School. We also loop particularly tricky transitions to a click until they're tattooed onto our collective soul.

We make home demos of every new song, using midi drums and keys and scratch guitars. It helps to understand the picture and is useful canvas for working the devil in the details. David and I will sometimes get together in the evening with a bottle or two of wine and try out all kinds of guitar voicings until our guitars are really talking to each other; and then record the results. His jazz background gives him this encyclopedic mind of inversions and it's amusing to try out all the possible combinations; sometimes to cacklight delight when he finds a particularly nasty sounding chord :p

HITS: Social Media is a very big part of the music industry nowadays. How important is it for you as a band?

Colorworks: Incredibly important. It's our collective public face and we enjoy giving it a personal flavor. We love to see the behind the scenes of our favorite artists, the personal moments or the gear in the studio - and we like to offer that to fans of the band. Nick is the graphic and social media expert. He and Andrew often plan out when to announce things like shows or new videos, what pictures to put up and everything you see us doing. Again, all of this is fairly methodical as well, I guess we take it pretty seriously haha. Nick actually drew by hand the cover of our latest EP "Dreams of Mangoes" and designed the graphic layout of the album. I think that kind of personal investment in the presentation of the band gives us a unique avenue to express ourselves exactly as we'd like.

HITS: Do you ever document gigs, recording sessions, etc in order to remember everything band related?
If so, any funny stories you can share with us?

Colorworks: We do take videos of our gigs and like to capture the spontaneity of the studio. When we recorded "Pears and Mangoes" last year, we were at Robert Lang Studios for the day. Andrew helps out at the studio from time to time and his task for the morning was to clean an AC unin in the control room with four cans of this spray clearner. Right there on the can it said "Only use in well-ventilated area" and "know to cause cancer". This closet where the AC unit was kept was anything but well-ventilated. After he sprayed all four cans, we turned on as many fans as we could, waited for a half hour and tried to record a take. The spray had this fake lemon scent and within five minutes everyone in the studio started to get light headed and loopy on this musky lemon scent and had to step outside for air. We ended up sitting around for four hours while the studio aired out. I can't remember if we ended up using the takes we got that day, but that officially became the "Lemon Session" for "Pears and Mangoes". I still can smell the lemons when I listen to that song now haha.

HITS: house in the sand all about sharing great music with the world. Who are you listening to at the moment?

Colorworks: Oh man, we're all eagerly awaiting the new Temples record. Temples, Tame Impala and Father John Misty are our top three contemporary artists. I guess you can throw Radiohead in there too, their new record is beautiful, though I still think of them as a "90's" band.
Tangerine is probably our favourite local band. And we're big fans of Biddadat and our good friends dreamcatchr.
And just like our gear, we love our old records. I've been listening to a lot of the Left Banke, Love and Blur recently and I know Nick has been listening to a lot of Donovan and Diane Coffee.
We're incredibly taken with David Bowie's "Blackstar", it's so dark! May he rest in peace.
I know David has been listening to a lot of BLackstar and the Kinks recently, especially the mid-late 60's period with Autumn Almanac and the records "Something Else", "Face to Face" and the early 70's period with Apeman and Lola. I came home the other day and Andrew was blasting Abbey Road, we're all big fans of Ringo and Hugh Grundy's drumming. I think the artists we consistently listen to the most are the Zombies, the Kinks, the Beatles, XTC, Burt Bacharach, the Beach Boys and David Bowie, with big helping of Judee Sill, Motown, John Coltrane, Aimee Mann, Brazialian Bossa Nova and Bob Dylan. Too many to list really, but this is a pretty good snapshot of the moment.

HITS: Thank you guys for this lovely interview!

Colorworks: Thank you for the interest in what we're doing, and thank you for being a great blog and source for new music :)
We are very antsy to make it over to Germany and the UK to play!

Colorworks online: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Soundcloud | YouTube | Instagram

Thank you for your visit!

Credits // Text & Questions: Vanessa Jertschewske | Image & Answers: Colorworks


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