Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with The Colourful

Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with The ColourfulA good friend of mine from work introduced me to these guys. We were sitting around the office just chatting about new bands and he was listening to these guys on his laptop. I asked him who they were, and immediately fell in love with their sound. Imagine taking spotless lead vocals, adding industry instrumentals, and tossing in some of the best lyrics you have heard. That is what you get when you put these guys in your ears. They hail from Marion, Indiana and half the group is under the age of twenty-one. There are actually six of them, but when you listen to them you wouldn’t know it. They just sound great together. After one listen to Your Heart Sounds Like Mine you will be taken back to your childhood when nothing else mattered. Imagine wandering the hallways of your empty high school looking for something. For meaning in life maybe. Or for your one true love. Regardless of what you were looking for, this song is playing in your head. It sticks with you and is tough to shake. I am not sure I want to shake it; the music is that good. Sit back and relax because I am extremely excited to introduce you to The Colourful.

Where did you guys come up with the name?

For one, the original bass player for us was from Spain… therefore, the European spelling. The Colourful was, and still is, filled with men from every social circle and genre of music. We’ve even had four ethnicities represented. Some of us like pop, some progressive rock, some metal, some punk. Some have broken families, some were previous drug dealers gone straight, and some don’t even know the difference between cocaine and pot. Our diverse lives and experiences bring a much wider picture of musicianship to the page, and each member is required to write his own parts with artistic liberties.  While the basic structure of our sound stays the same, the big picture changes with each new member. This is why we call ourselves The Colourful.

How long have you all been performing together?

Prozac and I (Brian Fannin) have been writing and playing together for about five years. After some of our original band mates’ lives took a different turn, we both moved to Indiana, found new players, and have never regretted the decision once.

Who writes all of the lyrics?

I write the majority of the lyrics for the band. I use other band member’s input and on the new record, we have a guest lyricist on parts of The First Song named Corey Cisney. He is a good friend of ours and a fantastic writer. Also, our old band-mate, Dan Novak, wrote Holding On to Grace.

Where do you get inspiration for a new track?

I think I agree with Jon Foreman on this one… it’s all been done before. We can only restate things and write music in our own words and tunes. We are inspired by the days we live in, the people we live with, and the music we listen to.

You guys are all over these social media sites. I see you on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace. How do you find time to be involved on all of those social sites?

Fortunately, many of these sites make it easy to post to multiple ones simultaneously… it also helps that music is a full-time hobby for me.

Do you pay more attention to any one social site than another?

Facebook seems to hit people the hardest. MySpace isn’t used as much by individuals as much as it is by bands now (and middle-schoolers).  Many people are on Facebook throughout the day. That way, we can post things directly on their wall feed often. Facebook also helps people to see us as individual musicians rather than just a marketed band. It’s a chance to be more intimate.

Where can I get some of your merchandise? I would love a shirt or something!

Most of our stuff can only be obtained at our shows. The exceptions would be digital copies of our music on iTunes, AmazonMp3, Napster, and Zune. A hard-copy of our album coming out in September of 2010 will tentatively be available for purchase on the Internet.

Where do you guys practice?

We practice mostly in our house/studio. Usually in the living room. But I think some of the best experience we gain is from playing live shows. We can interact with people who generate emotion and energy in a way we could never accomplish in the practice room or studio. The more we play live, the closer we get to replicating that energy at home.

Brian, you do all the booking for the band. How do you keep all that straight with everything going on in your life?

To be honest, sometimes I don’t. I’ve definitely messed up dates, numbers, and financial things in the past. But, it helps to have an foldered and sub-foldered email account and a list of our shows to keep me reminded of things.

Basically everyone that I work with is from Marion. What is like living up there?

We actually live in a city called Upland that is very close to Marion. It’s an incredibly small town. In fact, Upland doesn’t even have a stop light. Just a yellow, blinking light. But Taylor University happens to be here. It’s a little piece of heaven and social opportunities in the middle of cornfields… it’s just fantastic. A peaceful, small town in midst with big city venues at our fingertips.

If you could live anywhere else in the world where would you go?

Oh, my. Having traveled much of the world, you would think this question would get easier, but it doesn’t. Even though I love the adventure in the Amazon jungles and the peaceful beaches of the Philippines, I could never leave my American comforts for an extended amount of time. A first-world country is at my heart, and it’s people need passion just as much as anywhere else. America will do it for me… or a comfortable part of Europe or Australia.

Where did Zach get his nickname?

Prozac and I have played together for years, and our first band together had two Zachs. Therefore, he became Prozac to ease the confusion. You’ll also understand his name a little better if you ever have a chance to meet him or hear his guitar licks live.

You have gone from South Dakota to Indiana. What prompted that move?

I went to college for a bit out here in Indiana. I had made some contacts out here, so Prozac and I decided that we needed a change. Our part of South Dakota is a fantastic place to live, but lacks the big city atmosphere that provides aspiring musicians with the necessary tools to do what they dream of.

So I can’t put my finger on it. Who do you sound like? Who do people say you sound like? (I hear a hint of Bear Reinhart I think.)

I am beyond honored that you mentioned Bear Rinehart. I would hope I would sound at least a little like him since I’ve followed there music since just before their first album and have gone to five concerts this year alone. If I ever had true heroes, it would be Needtobreathe. I would be a happy man to ever acquire half the vocal talent that Bear possesses.

Other vocal influences of mine would be Jason Wade from Lifehouse, Adam Levine from Maroon 5, and Pat Monahan of Train. These musicians have taught what is to sing and write confidently and honestly. Also, I don’t care what anyone says… the Hanson brothers are fantastic musicians that continue to prove it with every new album. Taylor Hanson has been a definite influence on my higher-range vocal techniques.

What are you guys doing when you are not performing music?

Writing music. Truly. Music tends to consume us, often in an insalubrious fashion.

Also, we love to spend time with friends just shooting the breeze, or watching films. Some of the boys are into biking and boating. I like tinkering with graphic design.  Most of the boys are involved in some kind of Christian ministry in our respective cities and campuses. We all have a heart to make this world a better place.

Any word on the full-length disc anytime this year or next? You said September but will it be ready by then?

Yes! Hearts and Citadels comes out at the end of September! We have worked for over ten months on this album. It’s solely recorded and performed in our home studio. Prozac has most of a music production degree from McNally Smith College of Music and the album sounds professional. He is incredibly talented at mixing and mastering.

You guys have some solid graphic design. Who does all your design work? You said you play around in design a little bit.

I did most of our recent designs including the new album, poster, and website design. My brother, Brent Fannin,  is also a graphic designer with much more experience than I. Sometimes I will pitch an idea to him and he always makes it look just like I imagined.

Who are some of your biggest influences?

The answer to this question is a big part of why we’re called The Colourful.

Prozac is a progressive rock type of guy enjoying bands like Soundgarden, Steve Vai, Petrucci, Satriana, and many older musicians. I’m a big pop/rock fan. Or anything melodic, really. The prettier the better. Josh Jones (guitar) listens to John Mayer and a lot of music that I listen to with a twist of indie-rock to his tastes. Graham Smith (bass guitar, keys) enjoys a lot of guitar driven music, and is classically trained. Zach Levickas (drums) is a little bit of a punk-rocker (when we let him). Sangbin Lee (violin) has a keen ear for deeply talented and inventive musicians and listens to a lot of such.

But we all listen and thoroughly enjoy almost every genre of music. Yes. That includes country.

What’s the best show you have ever been to?

Usually that would be a tough one, but Needtobreathe’s headlining tour took the cake this  year. I’ve seen hundreds of bands and they’re still at the top.

Taylor Swift is runner-up. Of course, a big part of that may be her budget. Honorable mention? Check out a band called Sanctus Real. If their open hearts and honesty isn’t enough to cover up for their lack of on-stage energy, then the fact that their sound quality sounds like they’re playing a record will.

What is the biggest crowd you have ever played for?

As a band, we had the opportunity to play for a camp this summer. Can you picture two hundred+, A.D.D. ridden middle-schoolers all running in circles simultaneously? We can.

The smallest?

House shows. I set-up a show at a place entitled The White House just off campus near Taylor University last year. I was reluctant to start playing when only eight of our closest friends showed up. But that show and others like it have become a much needed rest for our souls. It’s a chance to share our passion with the people who’s opinions matter to us the most. And their love and encouragement has never let us down.

What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you guys on stage?

I often stick my foot in my mouth. It’s a trademark of mine, but usually not offensive. It was different one show this year. I stated that the kids needed to stick around because the band after us would “rock your faces off”. Then I remembered that they were a folk band and restated with “they’re going to folk your face off”. This was not an intentional double-entendre but sure sounded like it. Did I mention that this was a church venue? It was.  The next band wasn’t a folk band either.

There are very few people that can pull off a t-shirt and a vest. Nicely done sir. How important is your appearance on stage when you perform?

It’s second only to our music. Our budget doesn’t allow for us to dress like the marketing major in me would allow, but we try our best. A HUGE part of  a band going places is there marketability and I do my best to cater to that at every show and online. Of course, it’s hard to have fitting uniforms when, not only do we have so many different body sizes and ethnicities, but our music doesn’t really fit into any definite genre.

How cool is it having a single on iTunes?

We love it. Shhhh… don’t tell anyone that it’s not that hard to do. It’s our little secret. Also, our new album comes out on iTunes this month, and we couldn’t be more thrilled.

Brian, I hear you know a buddy of mine. How did you and Jacob Elsts meet?

Is this going in the interview? That would be oddly fantastic. I met Rusty (Jacob) at the radio station that I volunteered for on our campus at Taylor University. He is great at his job and was a blast to work for and with as was the entire crew at WTUR.

I have heard you guys described as passionate. Where does this passion come from?

Tough question. I think the perfect answer would have to come from each member. But, we have one thing in common, and that’s our faith and compassion for others. Fortunately, we don’t live in a world with just Christ-followers. Our music is relevant to those going through the same days that we have to deal with and the same situations that make us who we are and we want to be. I hope that our music is never confined to a people group or stereotype. We all share this world.

Explain what someone can expect seeing you guys perform live.

Honesty. And actual belief behind what we state on stage in the hopes that it will change or persuade someone’s life into a better place.

If you could only perform one song for the rest of your career, which song would you pick?

If it was a cover song I would say Devil is Talking by Needtobreathe. If it was one of ours, it would have to be We Will Never End.

Speaking of cover songs, do you play any?

Very rarely. I think the first time we ever did covers was when were transitioning members and needed more songs in the set that they knew. We just threw A Boy Named Sue in there and a Rolling Stones song. The Rolling Stones song has stuck… Johnny Cash has not. We’re planning on working on a Needtobreathe cover for our shows this fall, but with so many great records it’s hard to choose the perfect song.

That face sort of creeps me out. Actually, I love it just the same. Whose face is that?

(Laughs) I love that design. Fantastic story as well: My brother and I made it for our single last year. The face is that of an art/photography major on Taylor University’s campus. I had been bugging her about getting us into the studio to take pictures and she kept saying “yes” but putting it off. Finally, I sent her a Facebook message involving the words “we just want one good picture” or something of the sort. She proceeded to tag me in a picture of herself in defiant sarcasm. So, I rolled with it.

You guys don’t live too far from Chicago. Do you play a lot of shows in the Windy City?

Actually, we haven’t played there once. It’s a tragedy that we plan to remedy this year. We’ve just recently obtained players that we’re all happy with and haven’t had a chance to make contacts out there. We’re planning on our first show to be this year in late October with some new friends.

Describe your genre in one word.


Where do you see yourselves in five years?

I want LASIK. That way I’ll be able to see myself even better.

We want what all young musicians want. But what we really need is just a creative outlet that actually pays the bills. Selling a million records would be just fine, but running water and electricity are enough to keep us content doing what we love.

What do you want to be remembered for when this is all said and done?

To have something people can relate to. To connect with a situation or a lyric. Then to change or enlighten a mind, or give permission to take charge in one’s life.

I always let the artist get the last word. Go.

“They say we have our whole lives to get it right, to get it down. Why not test the waters, babe, right now. This ship won’t drown if it’s made of sails and wood as strong as your hand in mine.”  – The Colourful