Thursday, July 31, 2008

COLOSSUS Among Us! The Interview!

Here’s the deal, people. A lot of things are complicated. Some are not. This one is simple. COLOSSUS, from North Carolina has burst out of the Tarheel State in 2008 and delivered one of the most ass-kicking, guitar mangling metal albums in recent memory. Seriously, if you dig stuff like the very best Maiden ever did, Bible Of The Devil, Priest, Slauter Xstroyes or Mercyful Fate, you might want to drop that damn latte or whatever the hell you’re drinking while you’re doing this right now instead of your job and order their CD. Then, sit back, make sure your boss is on the other side of the office and read about the men behind the COLOSSUS. Their names are: Sean Buchanan – vocals; Bill Fisher – guitar; Nicky Nixon – guitar; Andy Lewis – guitar (that’s right, 3 guitarists and all of ‘em do lead!); Ry Wilshire – bass; Benjamin Smith – drums.

RAY - What on earth is going on in North Carolina, did someone have a sale on Gibsons & Marshalls? I mean, you guys, Thunder Lip, Valient Thorr, U.S. Christmas…etc. Seems like an awful lot of heavy stuff going on down there. Is there a correlation between heavy guitar rock & college basketball?

BILL - Yeah, i guess there is some cool stuff going on here, but you do need to know where to look. very much bad stuff in nc also. as for the basketball connection, hmmmm, i had not considered it, but, UNC is going to kick everyone's ass this year and colossus hopes to kick ass this year as well, so maybe there is some connection there. yes.

RAY - So how did the whole thing start for COLOSSUS? “…And The Rift…” is the band’s first album, so how did you all get to this point?

BILL - I think COLOSSUS really began as this instrumental 2 piece with Nick Perros(guitar) and Ben Smith(drums), they called it Perrosmith (gotta love that. Ed).not sure about the exact order of things, but a few guys came and went, nick went to high school with Sean, so thats how they knew him, Ry started playing bass(i don't know when the name changed to colossus)i knew Ry from our old bands playing lots of shows together, nick was actually playing bass in my old instrumental band Amish Jihad, but that was winding down, i was looking for a band and they were looking for a guitar player, so i was in. i guess it took about a year and a half to write and tighten up the songs for the record.

NICKY - We all met at a Evanescence concert. It turned out that Sean can sing like a girl and Bill was a really good rapper, so we decided to start a band.

RAY - Influences is always an easy question for a lazy writer. Hell, you throw the word out and can usually sit back & catch a few “z’s” while the band expounds. But I’m really interested. I’d like to hear from everybody in the band, but hell, especially the guitar players! Bill, I know who you are (after seeing you don’t try to leave the country!), I’m guessing you might be the guy who’s into Adrian Smith and also some hardcore? I know the other 2 guys are named Nicholas & Andy, but I’m not sure who’s who, so I’ll do it this way: The guy who had the blue fast-pitch softball t-shirt at the Baltimore show & was playing the Les Paul…I heard some real Chris Poland feel there, as well as those kinda hand positions. The Flying V guy, any KK Downing kinda background there? Of course, you’re going to say I’m completely wrong about every one and that I’m a complete dick but that’s what makes this all fun.

BILL - With me you're pretty close. i grew up on nwobhm stuff (though i actually play guitar because of Van Halen), but at a certain point it was pretty difficult to find anybody to do that sort of thing, so i ended up in punk bands for years. my favorite of those influences was always Stephen Egerton of Descendents and All. so yeah, metal and punk for most of my life, but i find my tastes are broadening a lot.

ANDY - My influences as a young guitarist included kirk hammett, marty friedman, randy rhoads, and eddie van halen. classic rock influences brian may, neal schon, tom schotz. jazz influences al di meola, john mclaughlin, pat matheny, allan holdsworth. love some 80's players like paul gilbert, joe satriani, george lynch.

NICKY - Well, I'm the blue softball t-shirt guy. I guess I should explain that unlike Bill, the rest of us were born in the 80's. In fact, Bill was there that fateful night when one of our more innovative ancestors stretched sabertooth gut across a tortious shell making the insturment known to the neaterthals as a "gut-tor." Being a kid during the high era of 80's metal, my tastes were never that sophisticated. When I was a kid Randy Rhodes was my favorite guitar player. It was pretty much Ozzy, GNR and Metallica.

RAY - I’m not trying to shove you off to the side, Bill, but I wanted to address this ? to the other 2 guitar players. That was a tiny stage at the Talking Head, you dudes didn’t seem like you had room to move next to each other, but the dynamics between you were awesome. You reminded me of Scott Gorham & Brian Robertson, trading solos, laughing, almost egging the other one on to top the killer lead lick you’d done. Is it kind like the fun of healthy competition or did somebody just tell a joke I didn’t hear? There once was a man from Nantucket…

ANDY - i have never been in another band where the guitar solo was a dominant force in songwriting, so its a lot of fun switching/playing off what bill and nick do. Plus i change up my solos every night. improvising keeps it interesting, and not to mention i cant play nick's solos

NICKY - The only inside joke that I know of is what a terrible guitar player I am compared to Andy and Bill. I have to laugh when I'm playing with those guys because I constantly feel like I can't keep up. All that aside, we have a lot of fun when we play. It's fun to joke around and try and get someone else in the band to mess up, even though 9 times out of 10 I just end up screwing myself up.

BILL - Nick is being modest.

RAY - What made you guys end up with 3 axe players? A case of Maiden worship? A case of Molly Hatchet worship? A case of Budweiser? Have you ever considered adding a 4th lead player to just flesh out the sound a little, for Christ’s sake? Seriously, I see big bands with 2 players and one is always louder than the other. You guys were all at equal volume and it sounded totally rad. How do you accomplish that? Do I sound like some over the hill 50 year old trying to sound cool by saying “rad?”

BILL - maybe more like maiden worship, love for skynrd, and many cases of high life. really we just thought we'd try and pull it off and we did, so now we're hooked. about a year ago, nick went off to law school and we got andy to take his place. when nick was free from school his first break, we tried the 3 guitar thing and it worked. we can play either as a 5 or 6 piece depending on that, and that's pretty fun. we did have to work a lot on the volume thing, everybody just has to be a little quieter and solos have to be much louder. and saying rad is rad.

NICKY - I moved away last year and they replaced me with Andy. When I'm back in NC they let me mess around with them, which is great. It's kind of like having really good seats at a guitar clinic!

BILL - This modesty thing is new to Nick.

ANDY - I’m the newest guy in the band. i got lucky because i was supposed to move to nyc to pursue music up there. i got the call from ry about auditoning for colossus. it didnt take much thought about joining the band. colossus is a serious band, but probably the most fun i have ever had playing in a band. as far as live volume sound we got it down to science with adjusting/boosting during solos.

RAY - This is directed to the singer, Sean. Dude, I think that Halford had a dream about the upcoming COLOSSUS album (not really a stretch, it was only 30 years away) when he recorded “Stained Class.” What’s your vocal background? Do you have any formal training or do you just find that you open up your mouth while in the grocery store line and things like the chorus to “Ghost Fucker” roll out?

SEAN - Haha... no, I've never had any training really. Basically my Dad gave me a copy of "Sad Wings of Destiny" when I was a kid and since then I've listened to it about 700 times. Before Colossus I would just drive around and sing along to CD's like Maiden, Bowie and BOC so I guess that was where I figured out I could sing. A few random bands later and I was in Colossus.

RAY - Directed to Benjamin & Rylan…You guys are a pretty slam-tastic rhythm section, organic & yet tight as a witch’s twat. How is it holding down the bottom end with all that lead guitar and vocal stuff going on over top you? Do you ever think “Guys…guys! Enough, already, we know you know how to do solos!” Or do you kinda solo yourselves underneath, like a Geezer Butler/Bill Ward lead/rhythm beast?

RY - I think that a very fortunate circumstance for our band was when Ben and i got shipwrecked on a desert island , during which time my right hand was lashed to Ben's right foot. This helped us "fuse our rhythm" and become equivocally taught as a witches twat. Also, fortunately for me, i have no reservations about turning my amp up way louder then three Marshall half stacks

BILL - by the way, computers scare Ben, so Ry answers for him as well.

RAY - RED LIGHT CHALLENGE!!! Does anyone in COLOSSUS believe in the Freudian concept of the guitar as a phallic symbol? Have you ever met any women, either on tour or back home in Chapel Hill who would concur?

BILL - i pretty much point my guitar around like it's my dick, so there's something there, and they don't call it cock rock for nothing.

SEAN - Yeah I don't remember what show I was at when I realized, "Wait a second, these guys are parading around on stage with huge fake dongers!" It kinda reminds me of those tribes you see on Discovery channel that strap huge colored gourds to their junk. Which only makes it more awesome.

ANDY - phallic symbol...more like flame thrower to melt your face.

RAY - I have to ask about the songwriting in the band. With 3 guitar players, does it ever get unwieldy? You know, “My riff is better than your riff!” How do you go about it, does everybody bring in a bunch of ideas and somehow it gets molded together? We want to see how the mind of the COLOSSUS functions.

BILL - seems like the songs have come together in lots of different ways. sometimes somebody brings a complete song in and everybody just makes up their parts to it, sometimes somebody brings in a song that just needs a little extra stuff and we all pitch in. i like to start with lyrics and a vocal melody and work off that. once we have a basic song coming together we just fuck with it a bunch, put little touches in. just whatever works. there's really no competition or anything like that, i think we're all pretty much on the same page about what sounds good.

ANDY - being new to the band writing songs for me is still in its infancy. i feel we all bring something fun and fresh to the process. we are all pretty open to new ideas

RY - We just write each idea we have for a song on a little piece of paper and use this paper to bait a hook. After casting the hooks into the sea we use the parts in the order that they catch mollusks and mollusks only. We have always let the fate of our songs be decided by Poseidon.

RAY - Lyrically, there seems to be a lot of fantasy stuff going on. I understand that some
serious artistes (heavy pronunciation on the “ar-TEESTS”) prefer not to reveal the mysteries behind their lyrics, but a couple I was wondering if you’d care to ‘splain yourselves on are “Willow,” “Hoc’tel” and “Salamandastron.” Wouldn’t mind a little discourse on “Ghost Fucker” too, as in my humble opinion, it’s one of the best metal songs I’ve ever heard. Is “G.F. Nocturne” stand for “Ghost Fucker Nocturne?” Or is it dedicated to the late Gerald Ford?

SEAN - Well Willow is of course about the film of the same name. Salamandastron is based on the Brain Jacques Redwall book. Ghostfucker actually came from a weird dream I had while I was trying to come up with lyrics for the song and I just woke up and wrote it down before I was really awake. And yeah, the G.F. Nocturne is indeed the Ghostfucker Nocturne. Our buddy Danny was putting some keyboards on Limit-Break and Willow and he just kinda came up with that and we thought it was a great ending for the album.

RAY - RED LIGHT CHALLENGE!!! Who is going to win the American League Cy Young Award this year?! Maybe the “fast pitch softball” guitarist can field this one!

BILL - to be honest, i got nothin. i like to get drunk at minor league baseball games, that’s about the extent of my baseball knowledge. hot dogs are also awesome.

NICKY - I live in Boston now, so I'm going to have to go with Josh Beckett.

RAY - Do you guys get to play much in North Carolina? How much have you toured otherwise? I mean, I guess I’ve been behind the door, but you guys seem to have come out of thin air. I found out about the CD, contacted you, had my ever-loving ass kicked sideways to Sunday by it, then a week or 2 later, have you roll into Baltimore and nail my sorry ass to the wall live.

BILL - we play pretty regularly in north carolina, but really there are only so many places that seem to work for us, and you can't overplay a town or everybody gets sick of you, so to be as busy as we want to be we have to get out. we've probably averaged around 2 months of touring a year for almost 3 years. just for practical reasons we have been confined to the eastern part of the country. this last tour we were pretty amazed that we almost broke even(depending on how you look at it) burning tons of $4/gallon gas. it was pretty wierd leaving for this one wondering if we'd get through and if we'd have to pull back to an even smaller territory. but it worked out more or less. the way things are, we will have to be really smart about tour routing to be able to make it work. it's getting harder to make it work but we really love to do it, so we're hangin in there. as for how you never heard of us, i think we do lack some of the savvy that a lot of bands have for promoting themselves. all we really know to do is write songs and get out and play them. we do all our own promo and booking and quite frankly, we're not that good at that side of things. but we try really hard.

RAY - What’s next in store for COLOSSUS? How much of the U.S. are you going to pillage? Any plans to get overseas? How about some kind of tour with BIBLE OF THE DEVIL in the fall when they’re new record comes out. Shit, you ought to contact Mark Hoffmann, your 2 bands together would be sick. THUNDERLIP added to the mix would be ridiculous!

BILL - we're writing a new record for nice life records. after that, it’s more of the same, tour as much and as far as we can manage, have as much fun as we can. we’ve played with bible of the devil before, they rule, and i would love to do more with those guys. put in a good word for us, ray. and we’ll definitely play more with thunderlip, they’re our boys, our vans have totally rocked position 69. you can’t break that bond.

RAY - I’m not familiar with Nice Life Records, is this basically a self-release? Any offers on the table or ideas about doing anything with a bigger label, maybe something like Cruz Del Sur?

BILL - Nice Life is our friends in columbus, ohio, ron and cara. we always play at their bar and it rules so much. they’re doing a bunch of different stuff, most noteably Rebreather out of western PA. I think they may have done a Teeth of the Hydra record too. they are great friends and treat us well. we actually sent a demo to cruz del sur, got no response. that’s a badass label. we are gigantic slough-feg fans and have played with them a couple times. those guys know what’s up, man what a band.

RAY - RED LIGHT CHALLENGE!!! Is the “hot-ness” of women at shows inversely proportional to the heaviness of the music? I call this theorem The Dorsey/Wilson Law Of Inverse Fuckability.

BILL - i think that used to be true. but things seem to change for the better in that respect. used to be, there was nothing but dudes at metal shows, but i definitely see plenty of girls at shows now. some girls seem to just have been dragged there by their boyfriends, and that sucks, but you know, when you see a girl really rockin out at a kickass show that brings the hot-ness factor up several notches.

NICKY - Hmmm. Depends of whether you are into tattoos or not...

RY - I believe that equation has recently been modified. It is as follows: Hot-ness of women at shows = (1/Heaviness)*K*(Number of Effects Pedals on Stage)/(% Overall band baldness)^(1/2) Where K is the 'rock constant' developed by D.L. Roth in the early 1980's and is equal to 0.

RAY - Ok, here’s one that always brings a smile (either of amusement, regret, consternation, disgust…etc.). Do you have any stories from life in COLOSSUS (either at home, on the road, etc) that you can share with the readers that are either uproariously funny, patently disgusting, weird, disturbing or just plain goofy?

NICKY - Yeesh... When we are on tour we have a box of baby wipes that we call "showers."

SEAN - Oh man, we got so many. The first one that pops into mind is when we were playing in Nashville one time. After the show some friends of ours took us to a party in their neighborhood where we knew nobody. Some random girl came up to Ry and introduced herself and he went around the room making up obviously fake names for all of us and when he got to himself he said his name was Ritchie. The girl looked at him and said, "Oh Ritchie... I'm gonna punch you in the fucking face before the night is over." which made me laugh so hard I collapsed into a fetal position on the kitchen floor. Then a dude comes up from downstairs and says that if you don't know who he is then you have to leave the party. I went up and was like, "Hey, I'm Sean, what's your name?" but no dice, we wound up on the front lawn. So we're waiting out there trying to call our friends that are inside and looking into this huge plate glass window where you can see the whole living room hanging out. Somebody gets the idea to send a shirtless Ben Smith in there and get him to root around like he can't find his shirt. So next thing we all see through the window is Ben walking out from the kitchen shirtless and start searching around in the room full of people for his shirt. He's asking people to move, looking under seat cushions... it was great and we were all really proud of him. He walks outside and some of the dudes that kicked us out before are following him. We're all laughing and Ben walks up to us and the dudes are like, "Oh man, you guys are friends with shirtless guy? You can come back into the party!" So we go in and grab our friends and leave because the party was actually pretty whack to begin with.

BILL - i think that same night was when this girl at the party just takes off her underwear out from under her skirt, really for no reason at all, and says “i’m not even a stripper” (nobody asked), i think i was tying my shoe a few minutes later and i feel something on my head and sean has put that girl’s underwear on my head, which was really fucked up. but clever. i’m definitely going to get him back for that. yeah, there’s a bunch more. could go on if i could remember stuff more clearly.

RAY - Any final comments for the readership?

BILL - ray is awesome. can’t wait to get back up to baltimore. rrroooccckkk!

So, there you have it…words of wisdom from the mouths of one of the absolute corkers of a metal band these pages have ever known. But don’t just read…go to the COLOSSUS site, order up and learn what it feels like to have THE COLOSSUS CRUSH YOU!

1 comment:

Mark said...

"I believe that equation has recently been modified. It is as follows: Hot-ness of women at shows = (1/Heaviness)*K*(Number of Effects Pedals on Stage)/(% Overall band baldness)^(1/2) Where K is the 'rock constant' developed by D.L. Roth in the early 1980's and is equal to 0."

Awesome. Great job ray.