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Meet Nashville-Based Quartet Colony House

The band’s lead vocalist talks family, art and Kanye

“One of our first gigs we booked was in Knoxville at this small club called the Pilot Light. I looked up the venue and saw that Bon Iver had played there in the beginning of his career so I figured it must be cool. We got there and it was the diviest of dive bars. I think the PA system was hand-made. Either the show was going to be great, or everything was going to catch on fire,” the 26 year old lead vocalist for Colony House, Caleb Chapman described one of the band’s first live shows.

The indie-rock band is about to release their second album, Only The Lonely on January 13th. The quartet will be performing their single “You & I” on Late Night with Seth Meyers and “You Know It” on The TODAY Show this month. They’ve done pretty well since playing for a 100-seat room. 

We caught up with Chapman to discuss the formation of Colony House, their second album and what inspires him.

How did Colony House form?

My brother Will and I are half of Colony House. That was a natural, literally a natural, meeting. We come from a very musical family. My grandpa still works in a music shop in the town that my dad was born and raised in in Kentucky. My dad is a singer-songwriter and has had an amazing career. He’s made like, 20 albums and is still going after it. We always knew we were going to join the family business and pursue music. 

We met our guitarist Scott through our cousin who introduced Scott to us as, “This is Scott. He plays guitar. If you ever need a guitar player, he is your guy.” Will and I asked if he wanted to play with us and he went and bought some gear.

We had been playing for a few years as a threesome before we found our bassist Parke. He played as our opening act a few times. He was doing his solo thing and didn’t play the bass. But, we really liked him so we asked if he wanted to play with us. He borrowed a friend’s bass and came to Atlanta to play with us. We always said that the only way we’d bring in a fourth member was if they made us better. Parke made us better. He could play bass, he was a great singer and he was really cool to hang out with.

How has Colony House’s sound evolved over the years?

To the general public we’re a newer face, but we’ve been doing this for seven years now. I’m glad that people didn’t hear us seven years ago though. We thought we wanted to blow up and be heard but I think there was a divine protection around us because we were not ready to be heard yet. We played so many shows and realized what worked outside of the comfort of our homes. 

What can fans expect from your new album?

It is more raw. We recorded it all in a room together as opposed to instrument by instrument. We figured, if this is how we are going to do it live, let’s just record it that way. The album is a lot of guitar, bass and drums. We got back to the basics.

What is your favorite song of the album?

I think the correct answer would be no, I love them all equally like my children. But I do have favorites. I think we’re all really proud of “This Beautiful Life.” It’s a dark horse on the record because it’s the only ballad. It’s not like the rest of the songs. It wrote itself. You know when you’re watching a musical and all of a sudden everyone breaks out into a perfectly choreographed song and dance? It felt like that. As if this song existed somewhere already and I just had to discover it. 

Where do you find inspiration when writing lyrics?

I usually bring the skeleton of a song to the guys and at that point it’s a Caleb Chapman song. Then, everyone puts the skin and guts into it to make it a Colony House song.

That’s such a beautiful metaphor…

Throw some guts in there and it’s Colony House! But really, as far as inspiration goes, about 90 percent of the songs I write are from personal experiences. Either something I’ve experienced directly or I’ve observed a friend go through something. There’s a certain loneliness that comes with doing something you love while leaving the people you love behind. Or coming back home and missing the thing that makes you feel alive.

I did a lot of research while creating this album. I found connections with people like Van Gogh. I’m paraphrasing here but a quote of his that resonated with me a lot during the making of this album is, “A great fire burns within me, but no one stops to warm them at it and passers-by only see a wisp of smoke.”  He changed the game but had no idea he was changing the game. He was heartbroken by the thought that nobody recognized his passion and art. Now people swarm by the millions to lay their eyes on his work. 

Who are some of your biggest influencers of today?

We’re all over the place with influences. When U2 announced their Joshua Tree 30th Anniversary tour, I think the whole band nearly had a conniption. We’re very inspired by Kings of Leon and Coldplay. No matter what, if they release music, I’m buying it. 

In the beginning of our career, the Boxer Rebellion was big for us. They actually came out to a show in Nashville and we got to have a bonfire and hang out with them. It’s funny to list them as influencers now when they seem like friends. I’m a huge fan of Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison as well. I don’t know if you’ll hear them in our music but they’re there. Their ghosts live in our sound somewhere.

What is a band or artist that fans would be surprised to hear you listen to?

Kanye West. I feel like everyone listens to Kanye West so maybe it’s not a surprise but despite the fact that he’s such a polarizing person, I think his talent is undeniable. I can’t listen to his records and not think that he’s either brilliant or has placed brilliant people around him.

I’m really loving Anderson .Paak, too lately. I don’t know if I’m saying his name correctly but I love him. As a band, we have one Miley Cyrus song we will listen to and it’s called “Do My Thang.” We can’t get enough of it.

Purchase Only The Lonely here.