After a very eventful 2004, which included an international tour and quite a bit of critical acclaim, The Color Bars started 2005 by bidding adieu to the Big Apple and relocating to Seattle. Luckily for us, they brought their vintage sound and eclectic instrumentation with them. The three-piece outfit's well-received debut, Making Playthings, drew upon the best music of the 60's and 70's, but displayed a very complex and dense sonic palette that set them apart from the huge crop of today's retro-sounding acts. The bands live show should further this distinction, as all three members showcase their ability to play a wide variety of instruments, and even share vocal duties. I recently had a chance to speak with lead vocalist Gerald Slevin about the Color Bars' recent happenings and their new home among other things.
2004 seemed to be a very active year for you guys - can you elaborate on some of the highlights of that year?
We got to go Japan, which was great. We felt a real connection with the fans there and were treated very well. That was certainly the high point for us. SXSW in Austin, TX was also good to do. Excellent migas in that town, but watch out for bike cops.
You started 2005 with a relocation to Seattle. How is the new locale treating you and what have you been up to since the move?
We like it so far. We'd been itching to leave New York for a while; mainly because we're all originally from there and thought it would be an interesting change to try the West Coast. So many of the bands, labels and records we love came out of the Pacific Northwest, so it seemed like a natural choice. New York is great, but rent is brutal and it's very cramped. What's nice is that we can have a little house now with a studio in the basement and two cats in the yard. Life used to be so hard.
Your performance at SXSW last year was extremely well received and got some tremendous reviews, and your recent Seattle shows have been successful as well. What do you think it is that makes your live set so impressive?
Well, I think people enjoy it because everybody in the band sings, which makes the audience feel like they should be singing too. We always try and make sure that our guitars and drums and things aren't so loud that they drown out the vocals, which helps get the lyrics across, which also adds to that. It's a very "c'mon gang, you know this one, sing-along! And a one and a two..." kind of vibe.
Making Playthings, your debut, is a very accomplished amalgamation of musical styles and instrumentation. When can we expect a new studio album, and how do you expect it to differ from Playthings?
The next album will be out in the fall. It's going to be a lot longer, a lot better, and perhaps a bit more experimental in nature, but not overly so. It'll definitely still be The Color Bars.
How about sharing your craziest tour story?
We almost got arrested in West Virginia after being accused of spreading typhoid fever into the state. We then peeled out of a gas station Dukes of Hazzard style. All we wanted were a couple a coffees. What a world.