After going almost nine months without playing live shows and six months in the recording studio, Colourmusic is back.
The band is one of the headlining acts at Free Tulsa this weekend.
Free Tulsa is a music festival featuring some of the best bands from across the state. Along with Colourmusic, other notable acts include OK Sweetheart, Taddy Porter, Broncho, Ester Drang and more than 160 other local bands. The festival is free and open to the public, though some venues have age restrictions for people younger than 21.
Colourmusic will be playing on the McNellie's main stage at midnight Saturday.
Colourmusic band member and co-founder Ryan Hendrix is nervous about returning to the stage.
“I feel uncomfortable because there are so many awesome bands from Oklahoma that will be there,” Hendrix said. “Just being in front of people that I know and respect makes it that much harder.”
Hendrix and the rest of the band have added pressure this weekend.
This weekend they'll be debuting new songs from their yet-to-be-released “purple” album. The band has been in the studio for the past six months recording what he describes as a “sequel to the pink record.”
“We just really loved a lot of the musical ideas we were exploring in the pink record,” Hendrix said.
Colors of emotion
The band started preliminary work on the new album almost immediately after it released “My ___ Is Pink” while it was in negotiations with a new record label.
Hendrix said it's not uncommon for them to work on albums that overlap. The band has had a rough idea of its goal several albums in advance.
The band's ultimate goal is to evoke an emotion associated with a particular color. It's the one gimmick the band has, Hendrix said. It's a concept that is easier said than done.
“As a musical concept, it is intriguing,” Hendrix said. “But the problem is finding particular notes that match particular colors.”
While they haven't perfectly hit every color, Hendrix feels they have come close with their latest record.
“I feel like we've really hit the color pretty well,” Hendrix said. “We kind of nailed the color purple.”
Aside from trying to put sound to color and emotion, the band has the pressure of pleasing a label.
“Sometimes musical ideas are not going to get you a tour,” Hendrix said. “So there were some songs of the pink record that weren't necessarily ‘pink' but they were something the label wanted. Until we have a more solid audience, we have to play that game.”
It's a game Hendrix admits can be a struggle.
“We're not really good at commercial music,” Hendrix said. “We just don't really listen to it.”
Colourmusic has an established audience in Oklahoma, but the band wants a more universally established audience.
One of the greatest things about the music industry these days, Hendrix said, is how people everywhere are making music now.
“On one level it's amazing,” Hendrix said. “But at the same time, if you're in a band it makes it that much harder to get your music out there.”
Hendrix had initially adhered to the advice that if you can survive seven years and your band is still intact, you'll make it. Now, that paradigm doesn't always hold true.
Colourmusic has reached the seven-year itch, having plenty of ups and downs along the way. What started as a small side project in Stillwater has become something Hendrix and the other band members are extremely proud of.
Over the years, the band has replaced a drummer, changed labels, toured overseas three times and lost another band member to fatherhood (British co-founder Nick Turner, who still plays with them when they go overseas). They have had a whirlwind of a career already, but Hendrix has his mind fixed on the future.
“We're living in the idea of what we want to become,” Hendrix said. “Which is why we're excited to get this new music out there and focus on what else we're writing.”
They aren't so focused that they forget to live in the moment. Playing shows and connecting with fans is still the band's goal.
“Our logic is that if you're there and we're there, let's just make a connection,” Hendrix said.
The band's first show in nine months was at the Crystal Pistol in Tulsa last Saturday, and it is excited to showcase new music at Free Tulsa this weekend.
Aside from Free Tulsa, it'll be playing another free show at the Opolis in Norman on Aug. 11 to commemorate its 10th anniversary.