Last week, Brisbane-based outfit C O L T S unveiled their new video for January, we were immediately taken back by their lush and arresting sounds. The band navigate emotional subject matter with their heads held high, and the result is something truly special.
So fresh off the video’s release, we caught up with the band to chat about how it came together, their Calender Collective series, and tackling heavy subject matter in songs.
Fresh off the release of their new video for January, we caught up with Brisbane-based collective C O L T S for a chat.
HAPPY: Hey, how’s it going? What are you up to at the moment?
C O L T S: Hey thanks for having us, we are currently enjoying some post work cocktails (we made our signature drink, The Coltstail) and reminiscing over how good A.Swayze & The Ghosts were last night at Crowbar.
HAPPY: We’re loving the new video for January! How does it feel having the video out there in the world?
C O L T S: Thank you so much! It was definitely a nervous time for us all, it can be quite intimidating to be so publically emotionally vulnerable. A few of us really struggled with it but we were all committed to the project and being there to support one another through that struggle is really what the whole shoot was about. Personally, I was also quite stressed about whether I had handled the content with the appropriate amount of respect, but the feedback has been mostly positive.
HAPPY: Could you tell us a bit about the video?
C O L T S: When I began conceptualising ideas for the clip my main objective was to create something that both reflected and reinforced the ethos of the band. I largely focused on the juxtaposition of the songs. The lyrical content is heavy and emotional but they are presented in a sonically soft kind of manner. I wanted to make something that was heavy but also wholesome, we have a lot of love for each other and it was important to me that that shines through. Everyone struggles in their own way but a lot of the time we repress that and carry it around with us. So the clip is about letting down those barriers and accepting help and support by the people around you.
HAPPY: Do you ever find it difficult tackling heavy subject matter in your songs?
C O L T S: I think the difficult part is the self-realisation. I find that I don’t know or understand what’s inside until I start to write it down, and that reflection can often be quite confronting. Once it’s written down and you bring that to the band it’s the start of the healing process because you let them in. It turns into this whole therapeutic process where your pain is your art and everyone is contributing to that art and supporting your vision. At the end of the process, I’m standing on stage singing about something that started as this really horrible feeling, with my best friends, who have all helped me turn this horrible pain into something I can be really proud of. That was really the essence of what I was trying to communicate with the video, turning your pain to art with the help of your friends and owning that feeling and conquering the hurt together.
HAPPY: Could you walk us through how the video came together? Who was involved?
C O L T S: It was actually a pretty easy process production wise. What really stood out about this idea was the simplicity of it. The outline is pretty simple and then everyone is sort of writing their own parts which was another big positive aspect to the clip. Having everyone access their own unique emotional experience and contribute their own story was quintessential to creating that sense of raw vulnerability. We enlisted some friends to act alongside us to provide a broader perspective and cover some parts of the conversation we felt were being left out. Directing and editing it myself also gave us a great deal of creative control that I think really assisted the authenticity of the project. We were also lucky enough to get Patrick Gatling (who has worked with bands such as Cub Sport and Ball Park Music) as the cinematographer. He did an amazing job of capturing everyone’s physical manifestations of their insecurities without being intrusive or triggering. It was an absolute breeze to cut together his footage, which was then coloured by George Graetz in Adelaide.
HAPPY: We’re really fascinated in your ‘Calendar Collective’ series – where did the idea to do this come from?
C O L T S: James and I were playing in another band finance and sharing a lot of our poetry (and love for reverb). When that band ended we turned our attention to creating a sonic backdrop to the poems we were writing. Having both come from backgrounds of playing in different bands in Brisbane over the last 6 years we both wanted to treat this a little differently. The songs were coming together quite quickly with an array of different themes from different parts of our life that we felt would be best represented as the arc of a calendar year. These themes cover the different personal difficulties we’ve experienced from things like breakups to substance abuse or depression, each presented as a different month.
HAPPY: We’re picking up so many different sounds in your music… was this something you took a while to build? Or do you feel like you’ve always carried this blend of sounds?
C O L T S: I honestly don’t think either. I feel like the result of our sound is an amalgamation of our personalities infused together. Our usual writing process consists of James and I both writing riffs independently and then smashing it all together. The harmony of those two riffs creates the main melody of the song and then the other parts fit around that. Our sound is not something that we necessarily set out to achieve or worked at intentionally, it’s just the way it fell together. Instrumentally, the songs reflect that juxtaposition that was so integral to the film clip. We are all unified in singing the words together however our parts are all emotive in their own right.
HAPPY: Are there any particular artists you’re seeking inspiration from at the moment?
C O L T S: I know this question is aimed at bands but I feel like a lot of what drives me to create comes from other formats of media. Nicolas Bruno, the photographer who recreates scenes from his sleep paralysis in particular. I try to recreate the emotion those images invoke in me through my music. The photos are both chaotic yet refined, horrifying yet beautiful. I also feel very inspired by the moon; airborne, consistent, carefree. I want to create sound the replicates what it feels like to look at the moon. James’ favourite painting is Bathersby Rupert Bunny, which actually hangs at the Queensland Art Gallery. The disconnect between all the figures in the painting parallels a lot of the themes that we write about; feeling emotionally and interpersonally distant from the people around us despite physical proximity. DIIV, Beach Fossils, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are all big influences to us musically. Tight, driving drums, multiple intertwining guitar riffs, lots of reverb.
HAPPY: What’s next for C O L T S? Any other exciting plans in the works?
C O L T S: We are launching the film clip this Friday at Greaser with Hobsons Bay Coast Guard (a favourite for all of us). Our new single, August, comes out at the end of the month and we are celebrating that with a show at The Zoo. We have also made a little video outlining how exactly to make The Coltstail, which will is super exciting and will be available soon.
January is available now. Watch the video above.