Music News

Colourmusic searches for its identity

Ryan Hendrix and Nick Turner, the founding partners of Colourmusic, aren't cut from the same cloth. Hendrix is an Oklahoma native who worships at U2's altar, while Turner is a Brit by birth who much prefers My Bloody Valentine's oeuvre to anything by Bono and company. No wonder that when they first became friends, Hendrix says, "he'd make music and I'd make music, and he'd hate what I did, and I'd hate what he did."

Bridging this creative divide wasn't easy, Hendrix admits. The first concept that sounded equally interesting to both of them involved writing songs inspired by colors — a notion reflected in the name of their band and the titles of their recordings to date: They've released two EPs, dubbed Red and Yellow, respectively, plus a new long-player that combines material from both under the chromatically appropriate moniker Orange. Still, doing so "was very difficult," he confirms. "I remember it being very painful." The reason, Hendrix now realizes, is that "if he said, 'I don't like the guitar part,' I'd hear it as him saying he didn't like me." Fortunately, though, "we've managed to disconnect that. It's no longer part of the conversation. If someone doesn't like a particular guitar part, they're not talking about you. It's okay. You're going to be fine. But this can be better."

Such efforts resulted in charming, melodic and bracingly weird Orange songs such as "Yes!," a deeply ironic, gleefully life-affirming, psychedelic fuzzfest. This material manages the neat trick of looking forward and backward at the same time. "I've lost the desire to be purely original," Hendrix explains. "That's not really a part of how we think about things now. I think of us as a sort of super-retro band. We want to take things that are really old and bring them back and make them alive again."

Not that he wants to spend the rest of his career duplicating Colourmusic's sound to date. Indeed, he admits to being over most of the numbers on the group's current release. "Basically, the presentation of our band to people when they hear our first album is that we're a very upbeat, happy band," he notes. "But that's not all we're intending to do." He adds, "Some of the songs drive me crazy. I think it's interesting to go in that direction and really try to create that stuff. But I feel it'd be too one-dimensional to be satisfied with something like that."

Instead, Hendrix and Turner are coming up with tunes for a new album that he describes as really "dirty" and "nasty." What'll they call it? "Pink," Hendrix says.

Glad the two of them could find a color to agree on.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts