Caleb Chapman of Colony House Talks Nashville, Upcoming Tour and Halloween Costumes
Brothers Caleb and Will Chapman hail from the rolling hills of Franklin, Tenn., where they, along with guitarist Scott Mills, launched the indie outfit known as Colony House. After their debut album, 2014’s “When I Was Younger,” hit shelves, the buzz around the band was immediate and spread quickly, with reviews coming in from major publications across the country. Earlier this year, with the addition of bassist Parke Cottrell, the boys dropped their sophomore record “Only the Lonely” to equal acclaim. After an initial headlining jaunt in support of the album, they’ve recently set out on the festival circuit, stopping off in Chicago for their Lollapalooza debut and are booked to play Pilgrimage in September along with Voodoo Festival over Halloween weekend. This busy schedule, along with a supporting role on MUTEMATH’s upcoming tour, which begins on Sept. 14 in Boston, Mass., proves that fans and promoters alike want more.
Frontman Caleb Chapman took some time out of his busy schedule to talk with Entertainment Voice about their upcoming tour, the intricacies of staying original in a world saturated with new music, plus a hint at what Halloween costumes they have planned
You’re hot off your Lollapalooza debut, a festival that brings in an average of 100k people each day. What was your first Lolla experience like?
I’ll start out by saying it was really good. All the shows were really fun. I will say it’s madness. I mean, 100k people is kind of hard to comprehend in a confined space until you see it, but it was super fun. It was epic. I had a really good time.
Your second album, “Only the Lonely,” reached No. 76 on the Billboard charts, which is a huge jump since your debut. How’ve things progressed for you guys as a band since your first album to now?
I think that it’s progressed in a lot of different ways. We’ve played about 300 shows-plus between albums, and something happens when you play that many shows in front of that many people with a band. I think you kind of lock in more to what you are and what defines you. There’s a natural progression that happens with you doing what you do over and over again, refining it. I think we’re just always searching for what makes us better, what sets us apart and time is (the only) experience that can do that. On top of that, we have a lot more people working on behalf of Colony House, which always helps too.
You’ve previously said, regarding your sound, that “to try to be original is a losing battle.” How are you guys able to separate yourselves from other bands in your genre?
There’s nothing new under the sun. At a certain point, we’re all searching for what makes us original, and I think it’s easy to get lost fighting that battle when in reality, it’s just kind of the four guys that make up Colony House. I always say that ‘art is recycled inspiration’ so we take things from people that inspire us and we recycle it through that. In our genre, what we’re trying to do that’s original is just…we want to inspire people to pick up a guitar and learn how to play our songs. Something like that, something really easy to grasp onto. When we’re searching for originality, we’re thinking what can be so left of center that it’s making someone turn their head? What’s so nostalgic and inspiring that it would make someone want to press play over and over again to learn the song? We’ve been thinking a lot about what made us want to start playing music as kids and thinking about the bands that were doing that and the kind of songs that were making us want to pick up a guitar and learn. We want to be one of those bands. I think there’s something to that. I always want to figure out what makes us original. Is it indeed the music or is it just us personally that make up the band?
Your Instagram shows a recent photo of Will in front of the apartment complex from which Colony House took its name. What’s it like to go back to the place where it all started?
We live literally five minutes from that spot. Me and my brother live in the same neighborhood right now. We probably live five minutes away from that apartment where it all started. But honestly, I hardly ever drive by it. It’s not really a road that I take often, but I have so many fond memories there. Franklin’s so small. When you’re in downtown Franklin it just kind of feels like all just one thing. It’s not very expansive. When I’m in downtown Franklin, and I kind of live in downtown Franklin so I’m there a lot…it’s where I grew up so anything to do with Franklin, it feels heartwarming and nostalgic.
As a Nashville-based band, how have you seen the modern-day music scene grow in the city?
Growing up… it’s crazy, because Nashville never seemed like it was bustling or anything. It always felt like a big version of Franklin. Now, it’s mayhem. Not in a bad way, it just feels like the city is buzzing all the time. There’s a lot of different reasons for that, but if I’m putting it into the modern music scene… It’s cool to be a rock n’ roll band born and raised from Nashville just because I feel like there’s a lot of spotlight bands coming out of Nashville right now. Or, coming to Nashville and calling Nashville their home base. Whether it’s like Kings of Leon or Jack White, you know, alt-rock staples like that. There’s obviously something to be said for that. It’s exciting to be a part of a city that’s had a name but is continuing to redefine the name for themselves.
Tell us about your upcoming tour with MUTEMATH which kicks off in mid-September.
We’ve been fans of MUTEMATH for a long time, before they were even MUTEMATH. I remember Earthsuit was the band me and my brother listened to a long time ago. So it does seem a little full-circle. We’ve done several tours with bands that we feel like we grew up with and it always feels like a crazy honor/full-circle experience to share the stage with those bands. But we’re just excited. This summer we’ve been home a lot, writing and just been focused on family time a little more than we have in the last few years. It’s been so amazing that we’re all itching. The Lollapalooza thing was like a taste of like ‘Oh yea, I remember this is why we do this! We love playing shows.’ So I think we’re just pumped to be back out on the road. We’re playing some amazing venues. It feels like it’s going to be a real fun, memorable tour for us.
You’re slated to play Pilgrimage Festival in your hometown of Franklin in late September. What does it mean to be on a bill with artists like Justin Timberlake and Eddie Vedder, in your hometown no less?
Honestly, Justin Timberlake, Eddie Vedder, those names come second to Franklin, Tenn. I think it’s the coolest thing in the world… I’m literally playing a festival five minutes away from my house. They’re doing a great job with it. It feels like they’re really being respectful of the community and how awesome Franklin is. I’m just pumped to be a part of it. I could point my finger in any direction from stage and tell a story about growing up and riding four-wheelers over there or working across the street [at] my first job. I could go [to] pretty much every street around the festival site. It’s kind of my stomping grounds. It’s pretty special.
Colony House is also scheduled to perform at New Orleans’ Voodoo Festival over Halloween weekend. Have you guys thought about what costumes you’re going to wear onstage?
This conversation did happen because we’re not playing on Halloween (at Voodoo), but on the MUTEMATH tour we’re playing a show in Chicago on Halloween. So we’ve been thinking about our costume game. We’ve never played a show on Halloween so it feels like this is the year to really go big. Without giving away too much… I’m thinking of paying homage to the 90s. Like a kids’ classic movie from the 90s or late 80s will probably be the route that we take. I’m building anticipation (laughs). You’ll have to come see.