If you’ve kept a close eye on the underground this year one of the names that will have cropped up are the ever excellent Hey Colossus. Veterans by now, this year as seen them release not one, but two albums and each can lay claim to being their best so far. Frequently descrobed as the most exciting guitar band on the planet, Hey Colossus may actually have the chops to live up to that label. Not convinced? You need to get yourself a copy of In Black And In Gold and if that doesn’t move you then their newest release Radio Static High. Albums seemingly poles apart in sound yet completely as one, they serve as two highpoints in a remarkable year for underground bands. Martyn Coppack crossed paths with drummer Rhys Llewellyn to find out more…
So…how are you? What’s it been like seeing Radio Static High go out in the wild?
RL – yeah we all good thanks. the album has been out in the wild for a month or so now so we are busy chasing it up and down the country in our VW.
Two albums in one year is pretty prolific in itself. Two albums of completely different styles is something else. Tell me about how this all came about?
RL – well we put In Black And Gold out in Feb last this year and we had a few tracks from RSH all ready written and record. We were spending a lot of time together as we were gigging IBAG quite a bit so we managed to get in the studio again around that time. We kind of had a plan to follow IBAG up quick and wanted to follow on from where we left off with that album. RSH came about pretty naturally and Rocket were up for doing 2 albums in 9months which was all we could really ask for.
Radio Static High by Hey Colossus
Is there a need to keep moving and not exploring the same avenues as last time? It would have been easy to stay with In Black and In Gold perhaps due to its reception?
RL – I don’t think RSH is a huge departure from the previous record, i think they go hand in hand to be honest. We wanted to make an album we could play live and would compliment IBAG but also take us somewhere we hadn’t been before as a band. i think we try to do that with every record but it seems to have been slightly more noticeable on this one.
RSH harks back to the days of post-punk and in particular Wire, what were your influences?
RL – We didn’t set out to sound like Wire thats for sure. I think we tip our caps to certain artists from that era but i have never once heard any member of Hey Colossus say ‘oh i love that Wire record!’, perhaps i was sleeping when they had that discussion. Influences on this record i think came from a slightly more varied pallet. We all have our own tastes but i think we bond over classic bands like Black Flag, Fleetwood Mac, Neu, Funkadelic, The Fall, The Stone Roses and Jane’s Addiction but then we all bring our own weirdo tastes to the table. Recently i am have been ridiculed for my Van Halen and Drake CD’s in the car. each to their own init?
You seem to be gathering a bit of a reputation as a live act, how do you balance the different styles in the show or is it just one big party?
RL – I don’t think there is a huge switch in styles live. The last few months shows have been mainly made up of IBAG and RSH tracks but mainly because we are enjoying playing fresh songs and it keeps us interested. We still drop the odd tune from Cuckoo, RRR and Happy Birthday from time to time but i think thats as far back as we are prepared to go for the time being.
You’ve been described as one of the most exciting guitar bands on the planet, with the current crop being essentially underground do you see yourself at the vanguard of a new movement?
RL – I don’t think we have ever been part of any scene which has come or gone over the last 12 years….we are either too heavy, too old, too stoned or too drunk. we often get accused of being too colourful. if we wore more black and had longer hair and tattoos we would have been snapped up by Geffen Records years ago right? what was the question again?
Who would you recommend Artrocker readers should start listening to?
RL – I am probably the worst person to recommend anything to Artrocker readers…I’m sat here listening to Nate Dogg’s “I Got Love” and drinking red wine out the bottle. Personally, Part Chimp and Kogumaza have been real treats to play shows with recently. Workin’ Mans Noise Unit are also ripping it up and making a good old racket and The Wharves are bringing some much needed style and grace to the UK music scene.
With the band getting noticed more and more, how do you see this affecting the band?
RL – We are under no false pretences, we know that next week there will be another ‘hot new band’ to listen to and we will be thrown out our van on Camberwell New Road with a pack of roached rizla and a red stripe to share between us while having to take the night bus home. It has effected our haircuts though….since the Financial Times reviewed our record we have all taken to wearing fresh out the box Marks and Spenser socks too.
And what next…a break or on with the show?
RL – Some shows with the lovely Teeth Of The Sea before a Christmas break and then some European dates in the new year. I think we will keep touring till the summer and then see if we can squeeze some more money out of Rocket for our ‘Concept Album’. We need our cosmic leader to return to the line-up so that we can produce our version of Pet Sounds!
Again thanks guys!
RL – not at all. thank you!
Press shot courtesy of Rebecca Cleal