In the end, it’s not what your influences are, it’s what you do with them. Secret Colours are certainly aware of 60′s psychedelia and I envision them playing A Gilded Eternity by Loop on repeat for days on end. But it’s their fresh take on the genre that makes it exciting. Guitarist and vocalist Tommy Evans talked to TDOA writer Sania about their hometown of Chicago, their influences and the future.
TDOA: How did you all meet and start playing together, and who plays this or that?
TE: We all grew up near each other in the suburbs of Chicago. Dylan and I met in 7th grade though a similar taste in music. Margaret and I have known each other for that long as well. I met Dave through a mutual friend when I was a junior in high school. Dave had known Justin in high school and introduced me to him then. I had written a handful of songs freshman year of college and wanted to get a band together to play them. Since we all lived in the city I asked Dave if he wanted to start a band. He had just left the band that he was in and thought it would be fun. He plays lead guitar and sings backing vocals and I took up lead vocals and rhythm guitar. We then asked Dylan to play bass and soon after Justin to play drums. Margaret didn’t join for a month or two, picking up keys/tambourine and backing vocals.
TDOA: I’m actually from Chicago, one of the best cities on the planet, what has been the bands experience with the music scene there?
TE: This city is full of amazing bands. When we first started playing we were put on bills that really didn’t suit us or our style. Lately, we have been playing with some cool bands that are more up our alley. There is tons of killer psych music in the city but the scene is not all that organized. Everyone seems to be functioning in their own little pockets. The new psych bands in this town have endless potential to start something to be remembered.
TDOA: The self-titled LP is pretty amazing, what was the writing and recording process with this album?
TE: Thanks! I wrote most of these songs before the band was started. When we started jamming we basically just ironed out these songs that were already written. From there we wrote new songs together to finish the album. We had a blast doing this record since the majority of us had never been in a real studio. The songs turned out way different on the album than on the demos I had recorded in my basement. I was pleased to see the end result because it showed how we had progressed and how everyone added their own personal touch to the songs.
TDOA: You have two great EP’s available on your bandcamp page for free download, In the Absence and Tomorrow Never Knows, what was behind the decision to release them this way?
TE: We didn’t really have a specific plan as to how we were going to release them. We did the Beatles tune because I have all ways wanted to do a cover of that song ever since I heard the anthology version. We just kind of just put our own ingredients in and that was what came out. More luck than anything. Soon after we recorded that song, Justin brought in the outline for the track In the Absence. We all loved the song decided to record it later that month. We chose to give them away for free because we just really want to see people listening to our music. Being such a new band it’s difficult to sell a lot of music, so we figured if we give our EP and cover away for free people may be more inclined to check out our album.
TDOA: There’s so many varying pieces coming together in your sound, a seamless blending of garage, psychedelic, spaced out blues guitar, soft melody, raw reverb edge and hints of so much more, what are some inspirations behind it all, musical or otherwise?
TE: We all have common influences as a whole, but I think it’s our uncommon favorite ones that make us who we are as a band. Justin loves all sorts of garage rock and takes his drumming from 60s bands. Dylan loves folk music and the 60s. Dave loves bands like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Spiritulized and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Marge loves Grateful Dead and anything Jack White has laid his hands on. I love bands like Blur, Stone Roses, and the Beta Band. Everyone has their own personal style, and Secret Colours is sort of the culmination of all the best music we each listen to and emote in our playing styles.
TDOA: What are you guys currently listening to? Care to give us a quick five song playlist to throw on our Ipods?
TE: We all love the new Black Angels record, Phosphene Dream. Every tune on that record is flawless. The newest Upsidedown record is pretty killer as well. Justin and I have been listening to a lot of The Clash and the Jam in the car lately. Dave is really digging the new Ty Segall record.
For a quick playlist of what I’ve been listening to lately I would have to say:
1. Haunting at 1300 McKinley – Black Angels
2. Whiskey Boots of Snake- Upsidedown
3. One Love- Stone Roses
4. Nightclubbing- Iggy Pop
5. Long Agos and Worlds Apart – Small Faces
TDOA: What’s the typical Secret Colours live show like?
TE: Not really sure. I guess it depends on the show… Lots of delay and fuzz? Generally we dig loud amps, everything soaked in reverb, and long jams out of songs. We really like the idea of being able to stretch a 30 minute set into a 40 minute set by jamming out of certain songs instead of adding more songs to play.
TDOA: You guys are playing SXSW 2011, how are you guys feeling about that? Anyone you want to catch while you’re there?
TE: We are so stoked to be invited to showcase this year. We really didn’t think we would make it in this year. I have no idea what to expect for this year. We know some of our friends from Chicago got invited, so we’re excited to see them and hangout. We know that Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall, and A Place to Bury Strangers will be there. A band we played with in DeKalb, IL once, The Main Street Gospel is also showcasing, and we’d love to see their set.
TDOA: What are some favorite equipment toys you can’t live without, guitar pedals and such?
TE: We all love our gear, and messing around with new toys. All I need to be happy is my 67 Coronado, Fulltone OCD, Electro-Harmonix Cathedral reverb, and a killer tube amp. I’ve been using a great boutique tube amp made by the company Victoria, for a while now. It was modeled after the vintage Bassman amps, and it sounds great. Justin loves his vintage Vistalite Ludwig kit. Dave is a slut for pedals. He’s tied to his vintage Big Muff, Tubescreamer, and plethora of delay pedals. I think he has 3 delay pedals in total on his pedal board. He recently got his hands on a sweet 60′s Silvertone amp, and he’s never seen with out his black Jazzmaster. Marge plays the Microkorg XL live. Dylan plays this rad old Gibson bass that looks like an SG, but ge is waiting until he can afford to get his dream Rickenbacker bass.
TDOA: What’s next for Secret Colours?
TE: As far as the future goes we are still writing songs and hope to record another full length in the summer. We’ll be releasing another new free EP at the beginning of the year. Other than that we just hope to get more out of town gigs and keep showing people what we do.
For more information about the band, visit them at: http://www.secretcolours.com/