Four years in the making, frontman Tommy Evans has taken Secret Colours from his parents basement to a kaleidoscope of psychedelic revival with bluesy guitars, fuzzy reverb and gently cooing vocals. For Evans however, the release of their new album “Positive Distractions,” (part one was released digitally on Feb. 4, 2014) is only the beginning of what Secret Colours has in store. Evans had plenty to say about the new line-up Secret Colours has taken on, and after the release of “Positive Distractions” part two (April 29, 2014) the only way for this psych-rock band to go is up. Here’s just a lightly edited transcript of Evans’ excitement.
How would you sum up the story of Secret Colours so far?
In 2010 I had a bunch of songs that I was writing on my own. And my friend at the time, Dave, just got out of one of his bands. We got a couple friends together and where we started was my parents basement. That’s when I was around 19 or 20. But then I went off to college, we all moved to the city and we continued from there. It was going steady for a while with those members until 2011.
We actually recorded “Peach” in 2011, but it wasn’t released until 2013, just because of complications and personal shit with the band. It was kind of a big mess after we recorded in 2011. Some heavy shit went down.
I was like ‘Oh, shit, what are we gonna do? The band’s done?’ Luckily, I was starting a new project with my friend Eric Hehr. That was kind of falling through, so me and Justin just got new members.
After the other project with Eric fell through, I just said, “Hey, Eric, do you want to join Secret Colours.” And he said, “Yeah, I’d love to.” We started jamming together with Eric on bass, and we got Mike Novak on guitar. The chemistry just clicked on a whole different level. We started playing music we had always wanted to play, but couldn’t for some reason. We were all like-minded finally, and it was good coming out of a big mess of clashing personalities and egos. So we were finally all on the same page and that’s when we went down to Texas and recorded our latest record “Positive Distractions.”
How would you describe the development of Secret Coulours’ sound from the 2010 self-titled to “Positive Distractions?”
Self-titled. That was our first record and we didn’t really know what the fuck we were doing. We were just like, ‘hey, let’s make a record,’ and we tried to sound like the bands we liked. We tried to sound like The Brian Jonestown Massacre. I think it was pretty evident. We were just trying to be something that we’re not.
“Peach” was fun. We were way into our heads a little bit, and we could’ve made a better record. But due to the members in the band it just wasn’t all there. It was just an alright record.
But with “Positive Distractions,” I don’t know, sometimes you get the right people together and you guys all know what you want. We recorded 12 songs in 11 days for “Positive Distractions.” We worked fast. We didn’t think about much. There wasn’t too much experimenting. We just knew what we wanted to sound like. It was a strange experience for all of us because we were all so into it. With “Positive Distractions,” we felt in the right place at the right time. It was the first Secret Colours record where it felt like a band. Previously, a lot of the guitar and song structure is was mostly me. On “Positive Distractions” we all were working together and it’s more rewarding I feel.
It’s been about a month now since part one of “Positive Distractions” was released. What’s the second part like?
It’s kind of a flip-flop. Part one is more on the darker side, and singing about things like past relationships and questioning things. It’s more emotional I guess. Whereas part two is feel-good, more poppy and happy sounding. So it’s kind of like positive and negative. Dark and light. There’s definitely a lot more danciness in part two. One of our songs kind of sounds like Talking Heads meets INXS. Another one sounds like Lady Madonna. It’s cool stuff.
How would you describe your songwriting process?
Before it was like, I would write and song. I’d have the chords. I’d have the lyrics. Most of the time I’d have the lead guitar, and I’d have a kind of mapped out bass line. I’d ask them to mess around with it and do it their own way. Same with the guitars. And Justin always did his own drums. But I was pretty controlling for the first two records.
This one, everyone wrote their own parts for each song and played them as if we were on stage. It was definitely just a think tank between the four of us. We went to the space at least twice a week for about a month and a half before we went down to Austin to record.
Greatest musical influences?
Currently, as far as the band goes, we listen to a whole broad selection of things. Since we started hanging out with Eric, we’ve actually listened to a lot of pop music, like old pop music. Michael Jackson and stuff like that. We love the Kinks. Blur has always been a big part of my songwriting.
I’ve been getting into a lot of old punk rock this year. Sex Pistols, the Clash is a big one for us. It’s funny because we all kind of listen to different eras. Eric Hehr, his nickname is “1955,” and he likes everything from then through the 60s. Whereas Justin is very 1970s-ish and Mike’s around then too. I’m the ‘90s, I love ‘90s music. I love Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Blur, Oasis.
What are the plans for the rest of the year after Positive Distractions is released in its entirety?
We are looking for a booking agent, and we want to tour as much as we can tour, and go everywhere. If that doesn’t happen, then I think we’re going to try and go back and do another record in Austin.
While we have these members of the band, we’re going to try and milk it for what it’s worth. When you have something that feels right, it’s definitely not going to last forever. So you’ve got to do the most you can with it before it goes away.
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