We have some old friends back today, with a double feature. I wrote about Colaris’ debut EP – “The Disclosure” – over a year ago, and since then they’ve been very busy, releasing a great LP in 2012, called Renewal and a very exciting split album just this month, with their friends from Ampersphere. Jessie Schmidt, the guitarist in Colaris, was very kind to answer a few of my questions, so here we go, with a mini-interview and a few thoughts I have about their debut LP.
ZaRecords: Here’s my favorite question to ask: what’s the story behind your band name?
Jessie Schmidt:. It`s a fantasy word. We just wanted to have a name which had different sides to it: a kind of positive/negative thing, something cold and dark and something really hot and shimmering, shining. It`s like the common thread through all of our songs.
ZR: Your songs sound more “grown” than “composed” – what’s your creative process? Do you have a distinct pattern for constructing material?
JS: You’re right, man. Most of our songs are written in jam sessions in our rehearsal room.
We love to jam for hours and hours on different parts. We demo them, listen at home and jam again. Sometimes I write small pieces at home but mostly one riff or phrase. I like to jam with my loopstation to create some basic basslines and start to build up different guitar layers over that.
The Renewal LP feels substantially different in layering and general esthetic than The Disclosure EP, it feels much more patient, much more introspective, a lot closer to the wide, reverberating spaces of post-rock than the band’s previous sound. That’s not to say that the music is lacking in vigor, not in the least – the rhythm section is alive with the deep rumble, much like heartbeat, and the guitar is just as fierce and ready to pounce as always, but rather than providing jagged riff structures, the variations have moved to the tone realm, subtly and maturely.
ZR: Do you enjoy playing live, or are you more at home in the studio? Tell me a funny / weird / entertaining story from a concert.
JS: Sure we love to play live, but playing in a three piece band means there is a lot of “Murphy’s law” going on on stage. For example, my looper starts living its own live on stage. The MacBook with the live samples starts living its own live as well. At a show in Belgium there was no time for a sound check. So we had to build everything up and do a fast line check, after the first band had finished. But my whole setup gave up the ghost. We changed everything from amp to cables and cabinets, only to find out that it was only one (!!!) cable which was not correctly plugged into my effect board. You can imagine how “funny” the rest of the show was for me – nervous as hell and totally pissed off. I think it was our worst gig ever.
Managing a tonal range the likes of which Colaris offers takes a lot of machinery, which is obvious from a multitude of photos the band have posted on their Facebook page from various concerts. The sheer number of foot switches, pedals, cables and whatnot which go into their live set is intimidating to behold, and it’s a real feat to manage making all of it harmonize, but more than that, it’s a treat to hear it put to such good use, as nothing sounds superfluous and cheap. It’s very easy for a musician to hide behind a wall of effects which turn every simple not into a cascade of sound and I’m glad to say that I detect no such shenanigans with Colaris. The effects enhance rather than supplement, and that’s truly refreshing.
ZR: Your music seems to have more of a “post-metal” vibe to it – reminds me very pleasantly of bands such as Cult of Luna or Isis. Have you considered adding vocals, or do you feel they wouldn’t bring anything essential to the sound? Do you try and avoid labels like music genre and such, when talking about your music?
JS: Julian and I have a huge metal background. He listens to a lot of black metal and doom bands like Rorcal, The Tuins of Beverast, Paysage d’Hiver, Addaura, Alda or Ash borer. I played in several metal and hardcore bands before. But i`m also addicted to old ’70s psychedelic and progressive bands like Pink Floyd, Mike Oldfield, Camel or Tangerine Dream. We don`t avoid any genre labels, we are happy with our sound and that we create the music that we have in our hearts and minds. Speaking just on my behalf, I don`t want to use any vocals for our music – it is based on personal experiences, feelings and impressions of life. It also offers a lot more space for each instrument to unfold.
The music takes a certain frame of mind to enjoy, it takes a bit of work to unfold, which I find pleasing. There’s quite a bit of tension being allocated between the three instruments in a very balanced way, a very fair distribution of eloquence. I can see why, with such a tight system, it would be hard to imagine integrating anything else – there’s really no need. The album washes over the listener quickly, compressing time, and the record name shows just how good of a choice it is – one feels refreshed after an attentive run-through of this LP.
ZR: What’s your relationship with the music industry nowadays? Do you follow a more traditional model – record label, contracts etc. – or do you rely on digital distribution, self-promotion and so on?
JS: We love the “Do it yourself” way. It means a lot more work, but it`s a passion thing. We released our first EP by ourselves. It`s easier to make some hand numbered CDs or to use different artworks when you’re doing it all by yourself. But releasing vinyl by yourself is too expensive, so we decided to work with WHOOAAARG and Revolvermann Records for the “Renewal” 2×12.
Currently we are working with Revolvermann Records and Puzzle Records together for our upcoming split. Both are small labels and really really nice guys. For the split we will also have European distribution via Broken Silence Music.
ZR: Thank you so much for your time and detailed answers! I really hope to meet you guys live one day!
JS: Sure, we’d love that too!
I hope you guys enjoy the interview, but especially the LP. Here it is, all of it, off Bandcamp!