COLOUR OF SOUND – Album – “When” (CD/download)
Released 27th SEPTEMBER 2010 (Red Grape Records)
We talk to Rod da Rosa lead singer & songwriter for Colour of Sound
Hi, how are you?
Not bad – feeling the burn from some tour dates last week but other than that, all good!
Would you mind introducing us to your band members?
Not at all, they don’t bite. So we have Chris McDonald on lead guitar, Gary Kilminster on bass and Karl Penney on drums.
How long has the current band line up been together?
Err, about 2 weeks but Colour of Sound is my project/concept that I started with the original recording line up about 2 years ago! The current collective is the live line-up who are now on tour and ready for action!
How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t yet heard you?
What have you been up to recently?
Just been on tour with Sivert Hoyem – played Birmingham Academy, Manchester and London Cargo last week. It was great to play the tracks to new folks who’ve not heard the album & really pleased with the response we’ve got too!
What can your fans look forward to in the next 12 months?
There are going to be a few surprises so I’m going to keep some of these as, well, a surprise! However, there will be a full UK tour, some more video action, art, possible European dates, radio sessions and remixes, DJ slots and our own experimental nights in collaboration with other artists.
How did you meet each other?
By shaking hands and saying, “Hello, I’m….”. The usual way I guess.
How did you come up with your name for the band?
Band names are always tricky and at the end of the day it’s just a name. That said if I was named Felicity when I was born I’m sure my childhood would have been pretty different? However, I wanted something organic and that reflected the emphasis on the songs / music as opposed to the band members so didn’t want to be ‘The’ something. Colour of Sound was a song I wrote so we named the band / collective after this.
Did you always want to be in a band?
Well I first dabbled with the idea when I was 14 and had started learning to play the guitar. I started on the piano and it wasn’t until later on that I did my first gig as a drummer that I got ‘the bug’. It was a packed out gig down the local pub in Nottingham – everyone just went mad after we did our first song. I’ve never looked back since then.
What music did you listen to while growing up?
Loads of different stuff but largely influenced by my older brothers who used to be well into Led Zep, Queen, The Eagles, The Jam, Madness, Bowie and many, many more.
How long have you been involved with writing & performing music?
It all started at school – I’ve played the piano from the age of about 5 so when I was in junior school I used to have to play for everyone as they walked out of assembly! Not quite Wembley but certainly got me used to playing in public at an early age.
What were your first music making experiences?
I was about 14 years old when we started our first ‘band’! Myself and a couple of mates who I used to knock around with used to get together and play guitar and sing. Mainly just jamming or doing Talking Heads covers - I think we called ourselves “Perfect World” or something dodgy like that! One guy was Julian Cope’s cousin who later got signed to Fierce Panda and the other has since been in prison!
Are you self-taught or did you have lessons?
Never had a guitar lesson but had a vocal session once – the singing coach made me try and pick up her grand piano whilst barking like a dog! For some reason, can’t think why, I never went back?
What is your current equipment?
Err, a 1960’s vintage, hand-wired, all valve Kelly head and an Ampro cabinet (used to be an old American projector speaker!). Really simple but sound fantastic and are pretty rare.
If you had an unlimited equipment budget what would be on your shopping list?
Do you use the same equipment live as you do when in a studio?
Yes, nearly. Recording - I was lucky enough to have Calum MacColl there who produced the album. As he’s also a pro-guitar player he’s got some seriously nice vintage gear & was kind enough to bring some of it with him.
Do you have a set routine when writing and recording or does it depend on each track and the inspiration?
Well for me writing & recording are two different animals that need to be approached in separate ways. The creative process you go through in writing can be much more spontaneous, you might get an idea, a riff or melody when you pick up a guitar whilst waiting for the kettle to boil. Or a concept for lyrics and a song idea from something you read in the papers or see in the street. Recording, on the other hand, you prepare for, you rehearse, you plan and bring in trusted engineers / producers who have a style that you’re already familiar with. To a certain extent you have a large element of control so from the outset you know roughly what you’re going to get. That said, Take This Ride on the album is one take, we didn’t rehearse it although as a song it was already written.
Which software/recording process do you use?
Album was recorded all live to 2” tape, analogue. That was for the full band sessions and after that the over-dubs were captured via the medium of Pro-Tools. We all only had one take for recording Take This Ride – the Hammond player couldn’t make that original session so I recorded his part as an overdub at my house. I gave him only one chance just like we had and that’s what ended up on the record.
Would you sign with a major record company?
Depends which label and sometimes more importantly, who’s signing us and why?
Do you have any new recordings planned?
Always writing and recording demos and already have about 30 songs in rough for the next album. However, too early to say which direction this ship is heading in though as we’ve only just left the shore!
How much involvement do you have with the arranging and production of the songs when recording?
A lot. All the tracks on the album I first wrote and demoed up in order to play them to everyone before we talked about getting in the studio and recording a record. From these Calum and Phill put their comments forward on song structure and arrangement where needed as at the end of the day, we’re all servants to the song. Generally though, the final versions are not too far away from the original demos. The album just sounds 1,000 times better than my homemade efforts though! I did nearly all the additional programming too but I enjoy doing that bit.
Is the production side of things something you’d like to get involved more in the future, maybe working with other artists?
At some stage but not now – I’ve produced a few smaller bands just for the experience and it was great but a lot of work. I found it pretty frustrating when the musicians involved were not up to scratch. My trouble is I’ve little patience when working with ‘singers’ who can’t actually sing…. it’s just too painful for me.
Do you find the process of recording enjoyable and does it get easier the more you do?
Yes, if you’re in the studio with the right people, good musicians and producers who you trust then it can be great. Especially if as a band you’re really ‘cooking’ or you record a spur of the moment thing then it can be a very rewarding process. You’re capturing a moment in time after all that will be committed to tape for thousands or even millions to listen back to and enjoy.
Do you try to capture your ‘live’ sound on recordings or do you think that the ‘live’ sound and recorded sound should be different experiences for your fans?
Well we recorded it with the whole band playing live, all together with amps plus the room mic’d up. Hopefully, the energy of a true live performance comes across that way, however, it’s still different from what you’d get live – you’ll have to come to a gig?
Do you any favourite tracks from your album?
Pennylan Park is one of my favourite tracks. I’m always in search of ‘the missing song’ and for me that came close to being one of them and it’s about a place where I grew up in South Wales. I put a fair amount of work into the shitty demo too that I made for this but it had quite a lot of ideas in so playing back the actual finished recording on these amazing, loud studio monitors was a very emotional point for me – it was the realisation of this whole project exceeding all my expectations. Also, one of my fondest memories in making this album was having all four of us recording the handclaps on this song. It was well funny – looked like a scene from Band Aid or something!
Who are the main songwriters for the band?
Well me really, I wrote the whole album plus the other b-sides we recorded except for Pennylan Park and Long, Long Time that were written with old band mates.
Do you have a method for writing songs?
No method, only madness. However, melody usually comes first for me then lyrics second. Maybe I should start writing poetry to mix things up a bit?
Do you write songs only about personal experiences?
No not always. One of my favourite songs on there is ‘Can I Follow You?’ that was based on a true story of a kid getting shot by the police in Brixton during some gang fight. He was holding a replica gun but the song tells a story from his brother’s side.
Do you find song writing easy or difficult?
Open Room just came out and I wrote the whole song from start to finish including lyrics in about 20 minutes. When it just flows out like that then it’s easy. However, it’s not always such a painless process.
Is there anyone who you would like to collaborate with on writing songs or performing?
Tricky one that, they say you should never meet your heroes so I’m going to try not too. That said I would have loved to have been around and had the privilege of sharing the same stage as John Lennon or Steve Marriott.
Who are your favourite songwriters?
Well actually I’ve just mentioned two but there are loads who I admire for different reasons but they all have/had the ability to capture emotion in their writing from Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Ray Davies, Van Morrison, Freddie Mercury, Thom Yorke, Bob Marley, Paul Weller, Bon Iver, Neil Finn, David Bowie, John Martyn and loads of others.
Which countries have you gigged in?
Not as many as I would have liked but just costs loads to get there! Sweden and Germany so far although the others have hit the roads in a few more stages further-a-field I’m sure.
Which countries would be at the top of your list to tour?
Would love to play New York and across the States plus Japan? Actually, I think my passport’s just run out so better get that sorted before packing me bags hey?
Who would you like to tour with?
Band of Horses I’m really liking at the moment and as their the other side of the pond it would be great to hook up with hose bandits.
How do you promote your music and get your music out to new fans?
Anyway we can to be honest although playing live is the most sincere way of getting our music across. Since we don’t travel abroad that much then online videos are proving to be a great way of getting in front of potential fans of what we’re doing? There are loads of more leftfield things that we’re going to be doing but can’t release this news yet, will have to wait a bit.
Which music promotion websites do you use and do you have a favourite?
MySpace is a given and Facebook is proving to be a key way of getting in touch with a load of folks pretty fast along with loads of other sites like your YouTubes, Muzus, Vimeo’s, Reverbnation etc. Will have a new funky website soon too – it’s in the post!
Do you think such sites and the internet are good tools for independent and unsigned artists?
Yes, or course. It’s a free and easy way to build a relationship with your fan base and communicate to people what you’re up to. It’s immediate too – everyone leads such busy lives these days they haven’t got time to write letters and put a stamp on it like in the ‘good’ old days!
With all the various websites out there for independent and unsigned artists, is there still something that is missing from them that you think would benefit the lesser-known artists?
Well without censorship on what’s ‘good’ music then no. There are a load of terrible bands out there which as a punter sometimes really puts me off going on these unsigned artist sites, however, that’s not to say that there aren’t a few diamonds in the rough.
How do you relax?
By doing really long interviews! Sorry, by doing something that I really want to do at that time there and then and not having to be somewhere for some specific reason. That’s my treat to myself and I guess it’s a reaction to being so busy all the time. Silence is golden though. In this day and age where media from every angle bombards us and people seem to feel compelled to fill their lives with so many different ways of entertainment. However, sometimes you should just simply…..be.
Have you ever entered any ‘battle of the bands’ competitions?
Err…yes, when I first started out. We did the Emergenza national battle of the bands competition and won! Came first out of nearly 400 bands and they flew us out to Germany to represent the UK at some festival. Essentially, it was a scam by them to get us to sell gig tickets for their events, however, we had an amazing time in Germany and took full advantage of the free beer machine!
What's your best/worst experience at a gig?
Actually, one of my best experiences was playing our album launch the other week in St Barnabas Chapel, Soho. We had a string section, live visuals and it was in a fantastic setting with great sound plus it was completely sold out! There was a great atmosphere in there and it was a celebration of what we’ve achieved over the last year or so. I’m so proud of this record.
Worst experience was probably playing the V-stage at a party at Richard Branson’s house when the cameraman on stage stepped on my pedals and unplugged me halfway though a song. Everyone kept on playing but the thousands watching thought I’d messed up?
Do you get nervous before a gig? How do you calm down?
No, not nervous but excited – adrenalin definitely kicks in for the big occasions. I’d be nervous if I didn’t know what I was doing and had to sing in a different language or something?
What are your day jobs if you have them?
Well we do bits on the side to make ends meet like play in covers bands, session work and teach. You just do what you have to do but as people, we’re all musicians – the music will always come first.
Would you like to be full time working musicians or are you happy with things as they are?
What do you think?
Has your music been used on any film soundtracks?
Yeah, I’ve had stuff on feature films although mainly horrors for some reason and have previously had tracks used on programs like Goals on Sunday on SkyTV.
Is composing for film or TV something you’d like to get involved in if the opportunity came along?
It’s quite a commitment writing film scores and definitely harder than it looks but if more opportunities came up to write for films that would be great. I’m doing a sound track to a collection of short films that a friend of mine is putting together. The intention is then to perform these tracks live with the films being shown – will let you know when the first one’s in the bag.
Is there anything you'd like to add?
Yeah, don’t forget to tell your friends that you were one of the first to discover Colour of Sound and that they should all continue to support new up-and-coming bands like us by actually buying the album and not just downloading it for free!
It’s just good karma.
Can I have a beer now please?