Cumbrian trio Colt 45 may have been around for some time now, but constant touring and their recent exposure in the British press are contributing to a breakthrough moment.
“Having press representation for our EP definitely helped,” says drummer Adam Lewis when we ask about this newfound popularity. “We got so many plays of the EP [through websites] on Soundcloud so when we finally released it, it spiked.”
The importance of being in the right place at the right time is not lost on them. It’s a different attitude, and one that explains their disproportionate time on the road.
“We aren’t from a big city, so we definitely needed the support,” Adam continues. “You never know who is going to be at the show. You can meet people who are going to make bigger things happen further down the line.”
All three band members – drummer Adam, vocalist and guitarist Neil Harper, and Gareth Jenkins on bass – are humbled by the suggestion that their media presence has increased. Far from suggesting that success is about who you know, Colt 45 are proving that hard work is the key to finding opportunities.
This philosophy doesn’t just apply to their promotional work. It was born from the band’s early days in the isolated northern county. “First and foremost we are from Cumbria which is a really isolated part of the country in terms of the music scene. Because it’s so isolated it’s easy to get sucked into that and not go anywhere, so we made a conscious effort to play locally, but also go on the road as often as we could. It changes you. We take a lot of influence from wanting to break out of Cumbria.”
All three of them are nodding and it’s clear they practice what they preach. Their attitude towards touring, fan interaction and support seemingly stems from the lack of a scene back home. It is part of what drives them across the country, and what motivates them to keep going.
This hometown experience has influenced the band’s sound too. ‘Inside The Triangle’ – their second and most recent EP – contains its fair share of retrospective and malevolent lyrics. Delivered by Neil Harper’s distinctive stretched vocals, there are moments on both their releases where the band channels truly angry punk from the last twenty years. This is offset by a smattering of melody – the likes of ‘Happiness is a Dying Art’ proving both hypnotic and huge in a live environment.
These two sides of the Colt 45 coin may be due to producer Romesh Dodangoda’s input into both ‘Chasing Yesterday’ and ‘Inside the Triangle’. Although heralded for his pop-punk professional leanings, the band is first to point out that Dodangoda has a wider range of skills.
“It’s not like he’s strictly pop-punk. He’s worked with loads of people – Motorhead, Kids in Glass Houses, Bullet for my Valentine – lots of metal, punk, and pop – loads of mainstream rock.” This mixture of influences and musical styles is evident throughout all of Colt 45’s material. Although a grittier take on mainstream punk may underpin both EP’s, there is a definite interest in experimenting with other styles and approaches. Where Colt 45 are successful they blend the two together into a cohesive sound, not massively unlike their current favourites The Menzingers.
“We’ve just been listening to the album on the way here,” Neil admits when the topic of ‘On the Impossible Past’ is raised. “It has great guitar, the recording of it is brilliant, and we hear some of ourselves in it. They do it for the same reasons we do it; they write songs about where they are from.” It isn’t too far a step to see these comparisons between the two bands – a comparison which sheds Colt 45 in an exciting light.
Contemplative lyrics and a concoction of various punk based styles run through the veins of both bands, ultimately dictating their overall sound. Colt 45 may lack the polish that The Menzingers so readily wear on their sleeves, but with that they bring something of their isolated early British years.
With a debut album on the way which may or may not feature Romesh Dodangoda back at the production helm, the promise is one that brings the collaborative creativity of the band further together. They’re working with a DIY punk attitude that has seen a slow rise, but 2013 could place them at the top of their game.