Columbus: Episode I – The Autumn Menace (p2)
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.
What did you learn from piecing the Home Remedy and Sad Songs EPs together that you wanted to bring over to the recording process for Spring Forever?
We were obviously younger at the time – not much younger, but younger – and I think one of the things I still like about those EPs is that they’re inherently a little more youthful than the album, which is cool. It was just three dudes in a room that wanted to play fast punk rock [laughs]. The album is a little more mature, but I still wanted a bit of that youthful fun to come through in the album, despite it being a fairly serious record. I think Sad Songs especially has a bunch of that youthfulness. Home Remedy is a little more mature, so I think we wanted a combination of that kind of ‘three dudes in a room making raw punk rock’ feel, but with a lyrical and overarching maturity that makes it feel like they’re not just silly songs. They can be taken seriously, but we still want people to have fun listening to them and we want to have fun playing them.
How long have you been sitting on these songs for? ‘Cause there’s a sense of immediacy to some of them, but then others are like, “Fuck, this has to have spent some time brewing!”
We wrote the album over a period of almost a year – we wrote way more than the album’s worth, and some of the tracks didn’t make it. But then other songs, we wrote, like, two weeks before recording, and they’re some of our favourite songs. Some of the oldest ones are “Summer Dress” and “Absent”, and then there are some that we had for a couple of months but got a key change or a change of sections before they made it onto the album. We just wrote a bunch of songs, and then we cut a bunch and ended up with our favourite twelve that we thought kind of fit together. And in the end, we were really happy with those twelve – we feel complete with those songs and we’re not really missing anything. But some of the songs like “Nervous Wreck”: I wrote a song and we recorded it, but it was too long, so I re-wrote 70% the song on the morning of recording – like, an hour before – and it’s like… That’s on the album now! [laughs].
A lot of these songs sound like they’d be absolutely massive in the live set. Did you guys have the stage in mind when you were writing these tunes?
Maybe a little bit. It’s funny for us, being a three piece: we always work really well on a stage because it’s just the three of us, but playing a huge stage is something that’s still very alien to us because we’re so far away from one another. We wanted songs that would feel fun if you were playing them in a small room, with a bunch of people cramped together, but might also work in a bigger setting or a larger venue. I guess we wanted songs that we could adapt to certain scenarios, but it wasn’t something that we thought about too much. We just kind of focused on making songs that we liked, compared to thinking about playing them live – which is funny, because some of the songs changed a bunch when we were in the studio, and then when we went to practise the actual song, playing it after those studio sessions, we were like, “Wait, how do you play this song!? This is way different now!”
“We think that the new dads of the generation are under-appreciated, and under-represented musically, and we will be releasing an official statement on that matter in the future.”
I wanna single out the track “Stay” because it’s just such an anthem – I’m not sure if it’s what you were going for, but I get a really strong early-’00s Triple M rock vibe from it. Where did that song come from?
Well [laughs]… Later on in the writing process, I was listening to a bunch of early 2000s and late ‘90s punk, like Rise Against and Fall Out Boy – those huge punk-ish rock bands. We wrote a few songs that were a bit rock-ier, and “Stay” was the favourite of those songs, so it made it onto the record. It’s a little bit of an outlier on there because it’s much more of a rock song than some of the other ones are – and we knew that, but we always just had so much fun playing it during practise that when we went to the studio and recorded it, it was like, “Wow, this is the most fun song to play!” I don’t know why we wouldn’t have this as one of our songs, it’s sick! [laughs]. It’s not really a big intellectual discussion – there are other, more serious songs that we could have used, or ones that fit better with the album – at least in a musical sense – but “Stay” was, I guess, the rock-ier side of us wanting to come out for a track or two. So we let her be. And we’re really proud of it, we really like it.
So you guys are heading off on a pretty massive headline run next month. How excited are you, gearing up for your first tour with an album under your belts?
It’s going to be pretty scary – we haven’t done a huge handle of headliners. we did our “Replace Me” release shows earlier this year, so we’re really looking forward to having a full album with us. We’ve got twelve more songs of material, so we can write a cool album set and bring that around the country and see what people are digging about [Spring Forever]. Every time we get over to Perth, it’s a great time, so we’re pretty excited about that. Headlining is always really fun and scary at the same time, but with this album, I think it’s just going to be so fun and so new to be playing these songs for the first time. That’s kind of, like, the best part – when you play songs live for the first time – and now that the album will be out for a few months, people will know the lyrics and they’ll be able to sing along. We’re really excited!
With this album blowing you guys up tenfold, these shows are gonna be the first for some of the fam out there – what can people expect to see once Columbus takes the stage?
We’re, at heart, lame boys [laughs]. But we want to have a good, professional show, and try to bring a lot of energy, rawness and honesty to the songs – hopefully do them justice. If someone hasn’t been to a Columbus show before, they should pre-drink a lot, and expect us to have equally pre-drunk [laughs].
Every time I see a Columbus set, it’s a really genuine experience – there’s not really much in the way of bells and whistles, but it’s great because the songs really shine in that raw environment. Is that sort of what you’re aiming for?
I think so! Yeah, I don’t think we’d ever want to be a band that isn’t ourselves – that seems kind of, to us, not very honest or open. I guess onstage, we just want to represent who we are as people and musicians, and the music that we’re playing does that for us. If people want to come and see us play our music the way that we would like to, and they keep coming, that’s all that we can really ask for… Because if I came out in a giant silver jacket and aviators, and then shot fire out from the side of the stage, it’d just be weird. I can’t pull that shit off [laughs].
To address the rumours: is it true that Columbus are the official leaders of the Dad Rock Revival movement?
[In fake-serious ‘press conference’ tone:] We are happy to front that movement. We think that the new dads of the generation are under-appreciated, and under-represented musically, and we will be releasing an official statement on that matter in the future.
KEEP READING: Page 1 | 2
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