Interview: The Color And Sound

The Color And Sound have probably crept under a lot of people’s radars this year, but those eager for huge punky pop choruses and incredible boy/girl vocals should sit up and take note. Barely 2 years old, the Boston, Mass. 5-piece have already teamed up with Black Numbers (Banquets, Sad And French) to release one of the best EPs of the year in the shape of ‘Peace of Mind’ – and it really is spectacular stuff. Containing six of the punchiest, perkiest and most brilliantly arranged pop songs of the year, The Color And Sound sit snugly alongside The Format and The Red Hot Valentines in making glorious pop music for people with off-kilter tastes.

Already Heard spoke to Chris LaRocque about the history of the year and what has turned out to be a stellar 2014.

Already Heard: Hi Chris, for the uninitiated, could you give us some background to The Color And Sound?
Chris: Sure. So basically the band started off as a by-product of two other bands that we were in Boston, Massachusetts, and both of those bands were coming to a close, and we just started this new thing; kinda like a no-rules, have fun with it and see where it goes kinda thing. It was just a c chance to start something new and to see where it goes. We’re all really good friends, so it’s just an excuse for us to hang out with each other, if you will. So it was just a natural, let’s see where it goes project and it has turned into something that occupies a lot of our time and what we enjoy doing.

AH: So in terms of those two bands that you grew from, was there much in the way of similarity to what you’re doing now, or is this something entirely new?
Chris: We had been in two bands – and I think you could chalk them down to being pop-punk bands for the most part – and it was kinda nice to have an excuse to try something different. When we started, there really were no rules as to what the band would sound like. Even now, we’re two EPs in and we’re writing more stuff, but we’re still figuring that out a little bit. But it’s good that we’ve given ourselves the liberty to do that, I guess.

AH: Regarding the two EPs, what was thinking about releasing ‘Peace of Mind’ as an EP? Was it simply all the material that you had, or was it a conscious decision to go with something short and punchy?
Chris: Well, the first EP, that was just the first 5 songs that we had going at the time, and we were like ‘OK, let’s get something out and let’s get on the road in support of it’. As we were writing follow up stuff to that – kind of going back to what I said about having the liberty to do what we want for writing and for style and stuff – we left no stone unturned to go through every possible idea and direction and thought we could. We definitely found out a lot about what we want to do and what we want to sound like – but it took us right up until we were literally recording the EP to figure out what we wanted to sound like. So I guess it really was a matter of necessity. We weeded out all of the songs that we didn’t like to end up with what we have now.

Already Heard: I’ve listened to the EP quite a bit, but it wasn’t really until I sat down and gave it a real good listen about a month ago that it hit me about how much is going on. I mean, lyrically, it’s quite dark in places, but it’s also very poppy, which is an odd juxtaposition.

Chris: It’s great that you say that. A lot of the reviews we’ve been getting back are that it’s cheery go-lucky go-happy, but the lyrics definitely spin in a slightly different direction, so that’s a great observation.

AH: It’s funny, because I have a long commute, so I tend to just listen to one album on repeat and really get stuck into it. And the initial response is to singalong, because it’s so catchy, but then you realise that there are lyrics about being vulnerable and miserable.
Chris: [Laughs] I guess that’s the dangerous line we were treading when we were trying to figure things out. The thing is, we’re really big fans of bands like Manchester Orchestra, who go into those dark lyrical places and take some really drastic turns with it, but we love bands like Grouplove and (The) Naked And Famous and bands that are really fun and poppy so it’s like bridging that gap really.

AH: How did you guys hook up with the chaps at Black Numbers then? They’ve had a great year, but they also have a diverse roster of bands, so you seem a nice fit?
Chris: So we got in touch with them through our manager Danny, at the Working Group. We’d been looking around to see if anyone was up for picking up the ‘Spring Tour’ EP for rerelease or something like that and they reached out to us. And they have a great history of standing by their artists and doing right by their artists. Dave[Frenson] is in Banquets and he knows what it’s like and they have such a great perspective on how to treat their bands, and we were honoured to be asked by them. So have them to ask about doing that, and the EP we just put out, it’s very flattering and we’re honoured. And as you said, they’re having a great year. Every year they’re putting out great stuff and working with better and better bands, so we’re so honoured to be a part of that family.

AH: I just want to kind of follow up on something you touched on earlier, in terms of your influences, but are you all coming from the same sort of place, or are different members bring different things to the table?
Chris: We definitely touch a base on a lot of the same bands. We’re all great fans of solid, strongly written pop music. As I said, we love bands like Grouplove, Tegan and Sara are huge for us, Arcade Fire are huge for us. But it definitely branches out in lots of ways too. Nick [Stewart], our guitarist and Joe [Aylward] our bassist are huge classic rock fans, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles. Steve [Aliperta], the drummer, and I definitely lean more towards electronic stuff, or similar pop stuff, and Ally [Mahoney], the other singer, she covers off a whole gamut of things. She honestly loves music. She loves knowing everything about bands, and a bands history. You can bring up any band and she’ll be able to tell you something about them, what her favourite CD is, all that stuff.

Already Heard: In terms of songwriting how does it work for you guys? I mean, I’ve read a few interviews with AC Newman when he’s talking about The New Pornographers – another pop band that I love – and he’s said in terms of the earlier records especially, the whole focus would be on sounds and melodies and the lyrics would be dropped in just to accommodate that – so some of the songs are slightly nonsensical lyrically. But you’ve got strong melodies and harmonies and your lyrics make sense – so how does that work?
Chris: For us, definitely on ‘Peace of Mind’, everything was written in a drastically different ways – so we’d be trying to figure out how to write songs together. So some we got the vocals right on the acoustic guitar, and then we just put everything else around it. So we wrote ‘Cigarettes’ just like that. But ‘Back To Me’ we had it like that as well – but Steve and I run our own recording studio here in Boston – and we just took that skeleton of a song and just produced the hell out of it. ‘Do It Again’, was completely different again. So Nick wrote the shell, Steve wrote verses and I did the chorus and we built off that. So we tried lots of different things, but we never want to leave the vocals and lyrics to the last.

AH: In terms of the scene in Boston, where do you guys see yourselves sitting? Your background is pop-punk, but The Color And Sound sit very much to the side of pop-punk…
Chris: To a certain extent I think we’re still there – but it’s about liking pop and punk, rather than just pop-punk, if that makes sense. The bands we were in were definitely the sorts of bands you’re in when you’re 18 or 19. You’re still trying to get into it, you’re still figuring out how you want to sound as a musician, but I grew up listening to The Ramones and The Buzzcocks and The Clash, and I just love trashy loud punk rock music, but I’ve grown up to love pop music and well-written melodies – so I think we love the simplistic ideal of being a pop and a punk band. The scene we play in back home is all punk bands all in basements, and that has an influence without a doubt. But we’re trying to put our own spin on it to an extent.

AH: OK, just to finish off then – what’s been your personal highlight of 2014?
Chris: We’ve done a lot of really great stuff, but I think the highlight, for me, and it’ll sound really lame, but we played this show in our friend’s basement at a place called the Litterbox and it is THE smallest basement I have ever seen in my entire life – it is tiny, and there had to be 70 or 80 people there and my girlfriend was standing in the front row and you could just see this sea of people carry her side-to-side, backwards and forwards – the entire time we were playing. I’ve never seen a crowd react so strongly to our music. We walked away like, ‘man, that was so much fun’. I mean we always have fun, but that show in particular, the reaction was immediate. It’s a basement so we were on the floor, in people’s faces.

AH: And what does 2015 have in store?
Chris: We’re gonna try and get on the road as much as possible and start bumping ‘Peace Of Mind’. We’re really proud of it so we want to take it out, get around the country and make some new friends. We’re always writing and working on new stuff and trying to get better, so it’s just full steam ahead to try and get things going.

‘Peace of Mind’ EP by The Color And Sound is out now on Black Numbers

The Color And Sound links: Website|Facebook|Twitter|Bandcamp

Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)


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