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The Color Morale: Painkiller

Seven years and four albums in, The Color Morale have evolved into a substantial hope-driven machine. Vocalist Garret Rapp takes BLUNT behind the scenes of their latest endeavour.

The Color Morale

Almost exactly 18 months after their previous album, 2013’s Know Hope, The Color Morale have bounced right back into the fray with a new album. It’s called Hold On Pain Ends (initials H.O… hey, wait a minute!), and it was bred out of both a desire to pursue new material and a desire to get something out on Fearless Records, their new home after three records with Rise.

“I think considering we had just signed to a new label, we weren’t interested in just sitting around and waiting on the business side of things,” explains Garret Rapp, the band’s lead vocalist and primary lyricist. “It was definitely something that we were excited to do – this really felt as though we had a chance to start anew, and to do it with our new family at Fearless just made it even better.”

At this stage in their career, the band – Rapp, founding member and drummer Steve Carey, new guy Mike Honson on bass and guitarists Aaron Saunders and Devin King – have shifted their perspective on the creative process and have begun to view it as work. Not in any kind of negative, dragging way – more in the sense that they treat it as their profession and put all of their collective efforts into what they are making.

“It’s kind of always different with us,” says Rapp on the band’s work ethic in regards to album creation. “Some songs will start with the music – especially in this case, where we were working out a lot of the songs while we were in pre-production. There’s an organised chaos in the way we created the record, with different members coming and going. Once it got to the songs, however, we were very focused. We wanted to create big songs with big choruses… a record that was really dynamic. I guess it’s something that we’ve wanted to do personally for a long time. We’ve never had a record that was really structured in the way this record was. The last record went in so many different directions, and I guess at the time it made sense. I still think that record sounded great, but we just tried to focus a lot more on the lyrical content this time around.”

Given the time window that exists between Know Hope and Hold On Pain Ends, it’s safe to assume that the writing process was quite rapid. Garret is all too happy to confirm this, stating that the album built up quicker than any record the band had previously put their name to.

“The songs on this record all came together around the same time, really quickly,” he says. “We did most of the lyrics in the studio, just to let the pre-production sessions focus purely on the music. Most of the record was written in the two-month period that we were home and away from touring. That’s always been the caliber of our way – we do records fast and under pressure. I think that’s where we work best. When you tour as rigorously as we tour, there’s not much time to sit around and try different things and ideas. That’s what the time in the studio is for, and that’s where a lot of the creative process actually happened. That’s where a lot of the songs came to life.”

As for his own lyric writing? It was simply a matter of catching a glimpse into his inner psyche and not questioning or fine-tuning any of the more raw emotions on display. “I feel I write best in the moment, not preconceiving what I want to be writing about too much,” says Rapp. “I feel that’s how a song can come out rawer and more naturally. I tend to think too much about things and constantly want to change them, as well as having really bad ADHD. I prefer not to go back and refine what I’ve written, as that allows the song to really reflect how I feel or how I was feeling in that moment.”

Hold On Pain Ends also features collaborations with David Stephens from We Came As Romans (on the album’s second single “Suicide Stigma”) and Chiodos/D.R.U.G.S frontman Craig Owens (on the track “Developing Negative”). Rapp could not be more excited to have both men involved with tracks on the album: “These were actually specific parts written for those guys,” he says. “They’re both personal friends of mine – not just friends, but creative artists that I admire greatly. Dave is one of the best frontmen I’ve ever seen perform live; and Craig is one of the most creative and talented musicians I’ve ever met in my life. Having them involved in the record was just such an awesome experience.” So, who else can we expect to see on a Color Morale record in the future? “I’ve always looked up to Josh Scogin a lot – I’d love to have him on a track,” says Rapp of The Chariot’s frontman. “There’s a long, long list of people I’d love to work with – I mean, we could be here for days.”

The band are extremely excited to get their new album out to the world, and there are already plenty of plans in motion in order for the band to get back out and see their extensive fanbase. So, can we expect Australians to be treated to a return from the hopeful quintet? “I absolutely love it there,” gushes Rapp. “I’ve made jokes to the guys that when the touring shoes are hung up, I’d like to move to Australia. Hopefully we’ll make it back there as soon as possible, but the goal right now is just to get the word out about this album. We’re heading out with We Came As Romans soon, then we’re hitting Europe with The Word Alive, then after that we’ll see how we go. We’d definitely love to see you guys again.”


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