Gareth Roberts chatted to Matt from Lola Colt about their debut album, tour and plans for the future.
As a band just releasing your debut album, how hard have you found it to develop a following and attract attention?
Those aren’t things we’ve consciously tried to do; we’ve just focused on developing ourselves and our music. People will seek out and find the artists that appeal to them.
You’ve been talked about in some reviews as a band particularly suited to a live environment. Why do you think that is and how different is your live sound to your studio sound?
The live show is very important to us. It comes first, above recording, which I think is unusual these days. We work really hard on that side of things. The studio environment is interesting because it offers endless possibilities to sculpt sounds in different and often more intricate ways, but it’s important to find the right balance between how a piece of music will come across on record and how it will work live.
The bands line-up is obviously quite large and that means you can achieve a much more expansive sound than many bands; do you factor this in when writing songs?
The decision to go for an expansive sound was designed into the band at its inception. It’s integral to the music, not a by product of happening to have a large line-up – meaning it exists whenever we write and doesn’t need to be consciously factored in. It’s the colour palette we’ve chosen to help paint the layers we imagine.
You’ve discussed the influence of movie music on your song writing, so how do you integrate the largely instrumental sound of film music into conventional rock songs?
Primarily by not writing conventional rock songs, but there is also another dimension to the way we approach the instrumentation that exists to tie together with the theme. The themes within the music, the sounds and textures we try to create, the attitude in which we play all exist to compliment or challenge the voice of the narrative. They work together, or against each other to enforce or change the songs meaning in the same way film composers use music to enhance or alter the emotional reaction to a scene.
What other influences have there been on your song writing and on the sound you create?
I’ve always been fascinated by the restrictions that artists purposely impose on themselves. It sounds counterintuitive but it’s these restrictions that have led to some of the most incredible creative breakthroughs. It’s also something that can be employed across all art forms. I remember first becoming aware of it in the literature of the beat generation and Kerouac’s ‘spontaneous prose’ method – the idea of a pure stream of consciousness, unpolluted by second thoughts, stripped of the luxury of hindsight having some greater and more deeply personal merit was so exciting! You can find the same approach in great jazz music. The Dogme 95 avant-garde filmmaking movement is perhaps one of the most extreme examples of strict artistic limitation. We use similar principles [although less strictly] during our songwriting sessions to ensure we keep a string stamp on our sound. It’s a further use of the colour palette we’ve chosen, and an important part of our sound.
Your recent album was produced by Jim Sclavunos, who has been in a vast number of highly influential bands. What’s working with someone with so much experience like?
It’s great fun, but it’s also scary to involve someone from the outside. You have to work on the relationship as well as the music. You need trust and you need to find balance. Jim is fantastic at adapting to situations and getting the most from them. He knows instinctively what areas to push and what to let go. Having the right pair of ears critiquing your music objectively from the outside is invaluable at times because as the artist you’re often too deeply immersed in the wood to see trees.
Has the fact that you’re now touring to support an album changed anything about the experience of touring and performing?
LC: Yes, it’s changed the feeling in the room when we perform. Now the album is out there is a good chance that people have heard some, or all, of your recorded music and therefore are familiar with songs. You can see different people react in different ways to what they recognise, and to sing along with songs they know – it really brings a different dimension to the show.
What sort of plans do you have for the future? Will we see you in Exeter soon?
LC: We’d love to come to Exeter soon! Unfortunately the closest we’ll come on our next UK tour in February is Southampton. That’s kind of half way between London and Exeter though, so perhaps we can meet in the middle? Ha. Beyond that we’ll be touring Europe in March and playing some festivals so there’s loads to look forward to.
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