Analogue Music | Colony House

Colony House

By Matt Conner

Caleb Chapman and company are through the portal.

For the first ten years or so, the members of Colony House were pushing and pulling in the same way most other new bands inevitably will—asking questions about art and identity, finding rhythms and chemistry, facing success and rejection. Through it all, they released a few full-length albums and built an impressive audience who fell in love with their earnest and infectious pop/rock approach.

These days, however, Chapman says the band has entered a different era. Call it a portal or a chapter. Whatever it is, Colony House has grown in maturity to find their focus sharper and their confidence greater. As the band returned to their Tennessee roots during a global pandemic, they also found themselves penning a love letter to the state itself and all of the ways it represents home. The writing and recording of it all gave them a chance to grow in new ways.

This should be a big year for Colony House—which also includes Will Chapman, Parke Cottrell, and Scott Mills—with The Cannonballers on the way. Each new release takes them to new heights, but this is also one that plumbs new depths off the record. And that's going to serve them very well going forward.

Analogue: I love the way you've taken things in new directions on each release so far and that's certainly true of The Cannonballers.

Caleb Chapman: We’ve all learned that it’s important to be willing to be shut down for the sake of a really good idea. What you’ll hear a thousand times in a day if you’re around a studio is, ‘This is probably stupid, but what if we…?’ I feel like we start so many of our sentences that way, just to protect ourselves. You have to be willing to get shut down for the sake of a really good idea.

Analogue: But therein lies the real thing you should be chasing.

Caleb: Exactly!

Analogue: So what bubbles up to the surface this time when it's anything goes in the writing process?

Caleb: Coming off of our last album, which was Leave What’s Left Behind and pretty conceptual and leaned into a theme and idea pretty hard, with this album, we wanted to be a little less precious with the story to see which songs would bubble to the top. And what’s amazing with a collection of songs is that if you’re writing about observations through life, you’ll be able to look back at the 11 songs in the collection—in this case of this album—and see a thread that weaves them all together. In this instance, it was the fact that we’re all Tennessee boys at heart and home.

We didn’t want to make a pandemic album. We were pretty careful to not just say, ‘Well, we’re home, so we might as well do something.’ We were trying to keep that off the table, but what that period of time gave us was an entire year at home for the first time in 10 years.

Analogue: What specifically about home was resonating so strongly?

Caleb: We saw a complete cycle of seasons. We fell back in love with Tennessee and [the city of] Franklin, specifically. We revisited a lot of memories from childhood and came to terms with losing touch with some of our best friends. Some of the parents who’ve been in my life have passed away. Some friends for whom I was in their wedding have split. Others have babies and new life. There’s so much that’s vibrant and joyful as well as heartbreaking. It all felt connected and came back to my home in Tennessee, and that’s true for all of us. We’re all Tennessee boys, born and raised, and that’s especially rare in Nashville these days. There’s not a lot of us hanging around.

Analogue: The ability to put something potentially 'stupid' out there... is that related to your experience together or as a band?

Caleb: That’s the gift of getting older is not trying to prove yourself. When you’re a young pup, you always barking, 'Look at me! Look at me!' You kind of learn to get comfortable in your own skin as you grow out of the new band stage, as the 'Hey, they’re new and young and cute!' kind of stops. [Laughs] You’re like, ‘Oh, now we just have to be a band and lean on the songs and the stories and how we connect with people with this music.’

"That’s the gift of getting older is not trying to prove yourself. When you’re a young pup, you always barking, 'Look at me! Look at me!'"

Analogue: How much of that still plagues you?

Caleb: We’re all riddled with insecurities. I’ve always thought it was funny that people who sing songs on stage will say they are the most insecure person in this room, yet they’ll stand up on stage and say, ‘Let me read you a few pages from my diary and then allow the listener to judge it and critique it and tell me if you like what I think about or not.’ I think that’s just a wild phenomenon that us insecure people will stand up and subject ourselves to that. But the stakes are high in a way and I like the thrill of that.

I think growing up is hopefully learning how to deal with those voices, whether real or in your head. I do think this album is growth. I’m supposed to tell you it’s the best thing we’ve done but who am I to tell you whether it’s better? That’s up to you if it’s your favorite Colony House album or not.

Analogue: Is that hard when some fans sort of settle in your musical past when you're off to other places in the present?

Caleb: Something we’re learning is to not be offended by our own music. So often, you put out a new song or album and someone will say, ‘It’s pretty cool but it’s not their first album. That one was so special. That was their best album’ It’s so easy to say, ‘Wait, no it’s not. This one is better. We spent so much more time and money on this one. We dug deeper for this.’ I have to remind myself that I did that one, too. We made that, too, and it’s really cool that somehow this person is paying us a compliment that something we did in the past is great.

We’re just trying to grow up a bit in that way. I hope it’s the best album we made, and I know for sure that it’s the hardest we’ve worked on something. I guess time will tell if people think it is or not, but I’m really proud of it. I think it’s the most collaborative, from a band perspective, and everyone had such a big part in it. We had a new producer and recorded in new places. It feels like a new chapter for Colony House.

Analogue: So you're a different band on the other side of all of this? That's what you sound like.

Caleb: I wholeheartedly feel that this is a portal into a bigger Colony House universe. I don’t know and I’m going to try not to care what everyone else says about that, but every time you put out something into the creative universe, you’re opening that portal. This one feels, to me, like we leaned into what innately us being who we are and letting all of the songs saturate in that.

VISIT: Colony House

Credit: Cody Bennett