Columbus: Episode I – The Autumn Menace
Ladies, gentlemen, and everybody else: the official Dad Rock Revival movement is here. In a short four years, Brisbane rising stars (and BLUNT HQ mainstays) Columbus have grown from a weekend hobby act – ambitions no broader than a simple pub gig – to a band worth slotting in your CD stack alongside Blink-182, Green Day and Fall Out Boy. Having signed to UNFD earlier this year, the pop-punks are ready to make their mainstream breakthrough: Spring Forever is loud, lively, and lovably nostalgic – a debut album no less than stunning and undoubtedly a future classic. With the album (finally!) in our hands and an enormous headline tour just around the corner, we caught up with frontman Alex Moses.
On a scale of 2008 Katy Perry to Boys Don’t Cry by The Cure, how emo would you say Spring Forever is?
It’s kind of like… It’s as emo as Blink-182’s self-titled. It’s kind of emo, but it’s not super emo – we wanted it to have a mature kind of sadness, where it didn’t feel like we were necessarily whinging, but instead like we’re coming to terms with what’s happening. If I can land it somewhere in the middle there, that’s where it is. We’re not exactly a Box Car Racer yet [laughs].
So you guys teamed up with UNFD to release this album, which was kind of unexpected since they’re usually more ‘core inclined. What was it about those guys that drew you in?
We first met a lot of the guys from UNFD at UNIFY 2016. We knew some of them earlier – Eddie, our manager, works at We Are Unified – and we had talked to a few labels, but UNFD were really kind and they approached us seeing things in the same ways that we did. They wanted to help us out and create things that we wanted to create, and they were very supportive in everything that we wanted to do. We met them and had a good chat after UNIFY 2016; we were gearing up to record the album and do all the stuff, and they were really onboard with helping us out. We also really liked the idea of working with an Australian label, too, because y’know, we’re in Melbourne right now – we can go into the office and say “hi” to the guys. It just feels close to home.
Spring Forever is an intensely passionate and intimate affair; pouring all of your emotions and these personal stories into a CD – is it nerve wracking to know that so many people are gonna be jamming out to them?
A little bit! It’s definitely something that pops into my mind when I’m writing songs, but I guess our music has always been pretty honest and we like writing music about things that we go through and we see other people go through – experiences that have happened to us – and I guess, y’know, being normal 20-year-old guys, hopefully some other people are going through some of the same things and they can relate to our music. Hopefully we can help them, or help them feel something too. Even though it’s a little scary being super honest with people you don’t know, it’s still a really good release for us, and if it’s positive for someone else, that’s pretty cool. So I’m okay with it… But it’s still super creepy when my grandma asks about my lyrics [laughs].
How do you put yourself in that situation where you’re comfortable enough to get so personal?
I think I do hold myself back a little bit, but it’s a natural thing where we gauge what’s comfortable for me – or for the band – with what we want to put out there. You’re comfortable, to a certain level, with expressing a certain amount of things, but say something happens to you where you really want to write music about it and it feels good to get it out: what comes out will be what you needed to write.
So it’s a method of catharsis?
I think so, yeah. Getting stuff onto paper – the first time you write it is like the first step, and that’s almost the best part. But then hearing the songs being recorded in a studio, getting it out on a CD, holding that in your hands and having someone else listen to it is like… It’s the cherry on top of the cake! It’s done. It’s created. It’s out there. And hopefully, if you’re proud of the music and you feel good about it, people can take something away from that too.
“‘It can’t be Spring forever’ is the idea that sometimes, you have to go through the Winter to get to those perfect Spring times, and that life isn’t always easy or simple…”
Not just in the title, but across the album itself, there’s a very ‘seasonal’ theme going on. How did that – and using the weather as a reference point – come about?
That was definitely something I did intentionally in a lot of the songs. I said the title, Spring Forever, in a conversation with a co-worker – we were talking about the weather and making small talk, and I mentioned that I really liked the season of Spring. I was like, “It can’t be Spring forever, y’know?” I really kind of liked that so I wrote it down, and then when it came to writing the rest of the songs for the album, that theme of ‘It can’t be Spring forever’ came very naturally, as did using the seasons as metaphors for feelings, situations and relationships. Originally, some of the songs were going to be even more season-y and weather-y themed, but we didn’t do that because we thought it’d be too much – so I kind of speckled that throughout the album: I wanted to portray a mix of ideas and get things across with like a consistent theme or metaphor. But yeah, it’s a funny thing to explain. I guess it’s like… Summer can sometimes represent the good times, and Winter can be the bad ones – things like that.
So then with that title, Spring Forever – what is it about Spring itself that resonates so much with you?
Spring pictures the balance between the Summer and the Winter in a literal sense, but in a metaphorical sense, to me, it pictures this perfect balance of comfort and discomfort, and a perfect base-point of content happiness. “It can’t be Spring forever” is the idea that sometimes, you have to go through the Winter to get to those perfect Spring times, and that life isn’t always easy or simple – sometimes its complicated, but it’ll be Spring eventually.
A lot of the songs on the record deal with topics of heartbreak and relationships; are they telling of a single situation, or does the LP chronicle a handful of different experiences?
It is a chronicle in a sense that it’s not all about the one thing, and I didn’t want to necessarily write twelve songs about girls – because I totally could [laughs]. For some reason, I fall into that really easily: I’ll come up with an idea for a song, and before I even know it, it’s about girls. But for me, [the album is] about important things, and stuff that’s happened in my life, and a lot of that is about relationships and experiences with feelings and people. There are songs about different people in different situations, and then there are some songs that aren’t about girls clustered throughout to break up the [monotony]. But I guess it’s not chronological in the sense that it’s about one thing happening over a bit of time – it’s a few different things, but I think when we looked at the tracklisting, we wanted songs that went with one another, and some of the songs that were put together are chronological in that sense.
Bit of a cliché question: what was that process like, actually stepping into a studio and smashing this froth-fest out?
It’s very cathartic for me, piecing an album together – this is the first time we’ve done a whole album, but recording for us is always like building a puzzle. You slowly start seeing the picture come together, and once you’ve got the picture, it’s so fun to add all these extra things, and watch one song grow from nothing into a whole album. The process for us was really good. We had quite a bit of time so we smashed out a lot of work in the beginning, and at the end, we had a bunch of time to go back and change things: add some harmonies and pretty stuff. It was actually pretty stressful sometimes – my voice got really sore, and a lot of nights I was not talking at all. Ben and Dan were just drinking beers and I’d go to bed at 9pm [laughs, but in, like, a depressed tone] – but it was a super fun recording process, and as soon as it was done, I was just like, “Let’s get it out, I want to do another one!”
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Columbus / Horror My Friend / PLTS
Friday October 21st – Jack Rabbit Slims, Perth (18+)*
Saturday October 22nd – Prince of Wales, Bunbury (18+)*
Thursday November 3rd – Crown & Anchor, Adelaide (18+)
Saturday November 5th – The Workers Club, Melbourne (18+)
Thursday November 10th– Rad Bar, Wollongong (LIC/AA)
Friday November 11th – Newtown Social Club, Sydney (18+)
Saturday November 12th – The Foundry, Brisbane (18+)
Sunday November 13th – Foundry Records, Brisbane (AA)
* – Horror My Friend and PLTS not appearing