I saw Colour Revolt for the first time at The Joint on July 7. The last band to take the stage, they played a killer mini-set to a packed room that undoubtedly turned some new fans. The show revealed a band playing like a band, a set of independents bent to the holistic end. Bassist Drew Mellon and guitarist Jimmy Cajoleas thrashed and swayed on the far rights and lefts of the stage, grinning at the most deafening sections of the songs. Guitarists/vocalists Jesse Coppenbarger and Sean Kirkpatrick sang in the middle as if to center the group, and drummer Len Clark expertly knocked away behind it all. Each song pulled you in with Coppenbarger's lulled, earthy vocals and then shot back with a booming crash.
A couple of weeks later, I talked with the band over chips and salsa at Las Margaritas. The guys in Colour Revolt are clearly compatriots, joking with each other, deflating or inflating each other's remarks to humorous extremes. Of the music scene in Jackson, Cajoleas says with some all-inclusiveness, "The good thing is that they (Jackson bands) stick together."
"But," Sean says with a smile, "we all know what we do in our living rooms," hinting at the competition that must drive the scene to a degree. There's a push-pull dynamic among the group, and they really reap from it their sound: most songs supply a tension between diligent hypnosis and trenchant blasts.
Colour Revolt has its origins with Clark and Cajoleas, who've played together since eighth grade. Coppenbarger and Mellon joined in high school, and Kirkpatrick (of City Lights) has just recently begun playing with the group. Long-time fans may know the crew as Fletcher, the moniker they've been using for the majority of their career, and the name under which they released their first record "Friends Don't Speak," on Esperanza Plantation in 2003. All members are local talent, and most are Jackson natives.
The recent name change to Colour Revolt entails an "aural re-tilling" with the band focusing more on songwriting than straight-forward rocking out. As Clark jokes: "It used to be, 'What are we in, Drop D? OK, let's do open chord.'"
Mellon sums up, "We're not as loud anymore." Coppenbarger adds, "We're just as loud live, just maybe not as abrasive."
Anyone who had the pleasure of seeing them play at The Joint knows precisely the new sound they're speaking of: gradual, pensive builds, soothing if cautious melodies, percussion that plays along with droning, mesmeric passages before leading out on more powerful sections, all leading the band to a thundering squall that is part cathartic, part agitational.
The group has just finished recording an EP at the Tweed Recording studio in Oxford. Cajoleas says, "It's been so much fun recording in Oxford," although Coppenbarger admits there were some considerable mixing problems with the studio. Fortunately, that's only pushed the release date back for the EP until the fall.
Colour Revolt's music is serious and searching. One listen to "Mattresses Underwater" (available on their Web site), and you'll know the band wants to go professional and has the head for it. But don't think the band is too ponderous. The chops are there, and the lyrics are
neither mawkish nor trite.
The band has cuts a pretty wide touring path, but the guys say touring thus far this summer has been excellent. "There's at least one guy in every state that hates us. You know, that's how you start," Mellon jokes. Cajoleas adds, "We're just really grateful for how things are going."
When asked to describe their sound, Clark says, "We just say indie rock," gesturing his palms out in a "What else can you say?" motion. It's a difficult question, especially for a band that doesn't easily yield to pat adjectives. See these guys live, and you'll be privy to some mini-epics that'll stick in your head for months (yes that's good). So sure, "indie" it is.
Colour Revolt will be playing at Two Stick in Oxford on July 28 and in Jackson at W.C. Don's with Go Fiction and The Tide on July 29. For more information, see www.colourrevolt.com.