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Exclusive Interview: Indie Rock Band Colony House

The music of Colony House—an indie rock band made up of brothers Will and Caleb Chapman, as well as Scott Mills and Parke Cottrell—is playfully self-described as “landlocked surf rock.” Their personal genre designation is as much inspired by their hometown of Franklin, Tenn. as is their new album The Cannonballers which was just released on February 3, 2023.

The Cannonballers marks the band’s fourth full-length release: their three previous studio collections take listeners on a journey through stories of loss, grief, and heartbreak while welcoming them into the hope that comes on the other side. The band has performed their songs for worldwide audiences with two appearances on both Late Night with Seth Meyers and CONAN, as well as The Today Show, VH1’s “Morning Buzz,” and MTV Live. They have also been part of several festival lineups including Shaky Knees, Austin City Limits, Firefly, WonderBus, and Lollapalooza.

Colony House’s music is built on pillars of honesty, accessibility and family, and much of The Cannonballers is too: within 11 tracks, the band delves into where they come from and how a place, and its memories, have made them. To the band, The Cannonballers signifies the carefree times of childhood past, with its beautiful naivete, while simultaneously encapsulating their alter ego—a character speeding down the open road, racing the clock in his rear view. The band is often caught in the duality between the “Cannonballer” and the kid on the album cover.

Disney Plus Informer recently had the chance to chat with Colony House’s frontman Caleb Chapman about their new album, touring and more.  Check out the full interview below:

You have such a unique sound. I like to say that you’re a one size fits all band, because I hear pop, rock, some punk, garage band, and even inspirational.  How would you describe your sound, and who are your influences?

Oh, man! Well, thank you for that little introduction. Very fine!  I think the inspirations are probably the reason why we have such a vast big sound as far as what you’ll get.  You could go from the massive rock bands like U2 and Kings of Leon, who in our formative years were everything we wanted to be.  And then we were listening to, just 5 minutes before I called you, Randy Newman and Nick Cave.  And younger artists… there’s a band that we’ve been really into called Dehd.  We could go all over… Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell… we could literally have a whole interview about our influences if we wanted to. But I say, on this last Colony House album, we got it down to what our sound is, and we’ve come up with what we like to call our own genre, and that is Landlocked Surf Rock.  That’s us. Colony House.

I know that you and Will are brothers.  How did you all meet? And how did you come up with the name Colony House?

Yeah, me and Will met the obvious way, biologically.  And Scottie was introduced to us from our cousin at a family gathering. Scott was good friends with my cousin, and they were hanging out, and my cousin was like, Hey, I’m supposed to go to my cousin’s birthday party, you wanna come? And that’s how we met Scott and we found out that he plays guitar and so that’s the very long story short. From that day forth, he played guitar for us.  He’s from Knoxville, and that’s how we were introduced to Parke, who is also from Knoxville.  And through a bunch of friends, and hanging out and touring together, Parke entered the fold as the bass player. As far as Colony House… the name goes when Scott joined the band and moved from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to Franklin.  I got married and was gonna move into this apartment but then me and my wife ended up buying a house, and so my brother and Scott moved into this apartment, and that’s where the band started. That apartment was called the Colony House Apartments in Franklin, Tennessee.  So we decided, this is where it all started. Let’s take it with us wherever we take these songs.

Your fourth full-length album, Cannonballers was just released last month.  Congratulations, by the way, because it’s just incredible.  The title track Canonballers is currently climbing the charts, and this is such a great, fun song, but also has a back story to it and a little bit of folklore.  I was wondering if you could just tell us a little bit more about the song.

Yeah, it’s kind of this weird, eclectic song… both, I think, sonically and lyrically… it kinda came in the middle of the studio.  We had hit a creative wall, and we just were like…Hey, we’re making music and this should be fun. Let’s take a little break on what we are working on right now, and try to just creatively entertain ourselves. And that’s where Cannonballers came from.  Pretty much a band, like in the early days, just messing around.  And so we started working on this song, and a lot of this album… the Canonballers kind of calls back to our childhood, and talks a lot about Tennessee since we’re all Tennessee boys born and raised.  I started thinking around the same time we started working on Cannonballers about this old theme park that doesn’t exist anymore, called Opry Land, U.S.A.

And there was a roller coaster there called the Wabash Cannonball.  And it was me and my brother’s first real roller coaster… went upside down… it was just a thrill.  And I thought, man, what a visceral name of a roller coaster!  It’s just fun to say. And so I was like, I’m gonna figure out how to get that into this song.  So I started looking into the actual backstory of the Wabash Cannonball.  Obviously, with it being in Opry Land, it was mostly based off of the Wabash Cannonball song…But I started looking into the actual Wabash Cannonball, which is a train.  And there’s this old folklore that surrounds it, that the Wabash Cannonball is more or less the Flying Dutchman in the hobo community… when the Wabash Cannonball whistle blows, it’s coming to take you off for your final ride… your ride into the great beyond.  And so there’s some kind of spookiness to it, but also this fun kind of ghost story.  But that song kind of wrestles…without getting into the nitty-gritty… it kind of wrestles with the speed that we all live our lives and the pace that we’ve kind of become unfortunately comfortable with… and I just like looking at life and we have such a small amount of time here.  It’s so precious. Why are we spending it in a hurry and that’s kind of the idea of the Wabash Cannonball.  And thus the song Cannonballers.

Your songs are very visual so I wasn’t surprised to learn that your song, “You Know It” was featured in a nationwide Samsung Mobile commercial.  And then your music has also been featured in shows like Good Behavior and Pretty Little Liars.  How did that happen? Did someone reach out to you and say, Hey, we want to use your songs? And is writing music for a specific show or film something you’d like to do in the future?

Oh, man, what a question! Yeah, I love it. Yes, is the short answer. As far as how those songs get to where they get… that to me is pretty fascinating, and almost beyond me.  There’s obviously a whole team of people working hard to get your music in as many places as possible.  So to me, one of the greatest compliments is when a music supervisor is like, I love this song, I’d love to put it in our show…I’d love to use it on a commercial or whatever.  As the artist, as long as it feels like it supports the song and doesn’t take away from it, it’s like a really big gift.  Like hey, I get to pair my music with the song. Personally, when I’m writing music, I am very visual, and I kinda think of my songs as little short films, and I kinda see them almost before I hear them.  Not in a literal way, but I imagine them as a visual before I hear them as a completed song.  So, of course, bucket list items would be to work on a film one day and dive fully into composing or into the soundtrack world.  But as far as writing specifically for a show or something like that, I think right now, it’s a gift to just write what’s on your heart and what you’re living through, and then if that pairs up with something, that’s a total win and a high five moment for the band.

Your songs have very powerful lyrics. Looking For Some Light comes to mind, which is a personal favorite.  And you all created, directed, and produced your own feature film, Everybody’s Looking For Some Light. Can you tell us a little bit more about that project?  And also is it available to stream anywhere?

Yeah, unfortunately, it’s not available to stream yet.  We’re working on how to do that in the best way. I’ll start with how it came about.  When we released the album that Looking For Some Light is on, Leave What’s Lost Behind…we released it right before the pandemic.  And so we started touring, and pretty much two or three months after we released the album, the world shut down, and as a touring band, we were like, what are we gonna do?  And having no idea how long the pandemic would last…I just started digging through old footage from making the album and making all the music videos and started kinda mixing down some live performances sonically and little by little I started piecing together these little clips that we thought well, let’s just put these out while we don’t really know what’s next so people can stay connected and hopefully encourage people. And as I was editing the clips together, I was like, I think there might be a story here that is bigger than just some Instagram posts.  So, over the summer of 2020, I edited together a feature length film that pretty much asks the question…when something unexpected happens, when the wind is taken out of your sails, what do you do when you hit a fork in the road? You know?  What do you do with that? And for us, the idea of everybody is looking for some light really encapsulated the feeling of that time for us, and for so many like we’re all just looking for a little bit of hope in this really desperate situation.  And so, we leaned into that and told our version of our story through our music and I think it really landed with a lot of people.  We showed the film at a drive-in movie over the pandemic.  We created this whole drive-in experience, and then we submitted the film for the National Film Festival, not expecting much out of it, and it got selected.  So it’s this really endearing DIY film that kinda gave us a lot of hope and creative opportunity in that really weird pandemic time.

You are currently headlining your own tour in the U.S. and are playing Bonnaroo in June. Last weekend you live-streamed your concert, which we were lucky enough to catch and I could just feel the energy coming from the screen. You have this really special way of connecting to your audience.  Can you explain what 2:20 is? And how did that start?

Oh, man, yeah. 2:20 is a song off of our first album and that song is literally called 2:20 because when we first wrote it and recorded it, it was 2 minutes and 20 seconds long but we didn’t have any lyrics at the time.  So we just called it 2:20 cause that’s how long the song was. And obviously, wrote a few lyrics to it.  But it just started out as a fun song to play at sound check.  And it’s kind of turned into this cult classic for our band.  A bunch of kids love playing it on guitar because it’s kind of this bluesy riff song, and it’s so much of a cult classic at this point that a lot of kids wanna come up and play the song with us on stage.  And that’s been happening through the years where people hold signs up like, let me play guitar on 2:20.  Sometimes it works out.  Sometimes it doesn’t, and so on.  On this tour, we decided to just lean into it and give people the opportunity.  It’s like, hey? Why not? I mean the worst thing that can happen is we just gotta start over or something. I don’t know.  It’s just music. So at every show, pretty much, if someone wants to play it, we just grab them out of the audience and let them come up, and we see what they got.  So the most important thing to me is that it’s never actually planned out. We never know the person and their ability.  We know that we’re gonna give someone an opportunity but I don’t wanna know if they can actually do it, because then it feels like a fake moment.  So if you ever see us, and someone comes up on stage from the crowd, it is a stranger to me, and I don’t know what’s about to happen.  So it just keeps us on our toes. It keeps every show a little interesting.

Many thanks to Caleb and Colony House and be sure to check out the music video for Cannonballers and a review of their concert at House of Blues in Chicago below :

The Cannonballers is now available wherever you listen to music.  Colony House is also currently touring the US throughout the spring. Dates HERE.

Review of Colony House at House of Blues Chicago 3-14-23

Colony House immediately hit the gas pedal with the opener “Landlocked Surf Rock,” their self described genre song which also happens to be the first track of their new album Cannonballers, followed by the powerhouse track “Would Ya Could Ya.”  Next up is “Silhouettes” off their When I Was Younger album and during this song, frontman Caleb Chapman has no qualms about diving into the audience and dancing and mingling with fans. The energy this band and its fans exude is infectious.  Even the ballads match the impressive electricity of their lively anthems.  Colony House’s songs are diverse and magical in a way that they can connect with every single person in the room.  The show concludes with “Looking for Some Light” and “You Know It.”  With fans echoing the lyrics, I’m not sure who was the loudest, but the energy literally shook the floor and blew the roof off House of Blues in Chicago.  They’ll blow you away too.  See them live!

Check out some photos from the show below:



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