with Colony House, Tyson Motsenbocker
Platinum Reserved Available
All Ages Show
As they enter their 17th year as a band, Switchfoot has achieved a level of success that brothers Jon and Tim Foreman and their high-school friend Chad Butler never anticipated when forming the band in San Diego in 1996. The SoCal natives have sold 5.5 million copies worldwide of their eight studio albums (including their 2003 double-platinum breakthrough The Beautiful Letdown and 2009’s Grammy Award-winning Hello Hurricane), racked up a string of Alternative radio hit singles (“Meant to Live,” “Dare You To Move,” “Mess of Me,” “The Sound (John M. Perkins’ Blues),” “Dark Horses,” and “Afterlife”), performed sold-out world tours (visiting five continents in the past year alone), raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to aid homeless kids in their community through their own Bro-Am Foundation, and earned themselves a global fan base devoted to Switchfoot’s emotionally intelligent and uplifting brand of alternative rock.
So when it came time to write the songs that would make up their ninth studio album, the members of Switchfoot were looking for a challenge. “The point became, ‘What are we going to do to push ourselves,’” Jon recalls. “Could we take ourselves somewhere we’d never been before, yet achieve a feeling of comfort at the same time? How do we go to a new place that feels like home?”
Switchfoot found the answers on the road and in the waves. A year ago, while touring in support of their 2011 album Vice Verses, the long-time surfers set out in search of inspiration by visiting several of their favorite surf breaks around the world. “The idea was to surf, write songs, play music, and see what ideas came,” says Tim. The band traveled to Jeffreys Bay and Crayfish Factory in South Africa, Bronte Beach in Australia, Raglan in New Zealand, and Uluwatu in Bali, and chronicled their physical and emotional journey, as well as their unshakeable brotherly bond, in Fading West — a documentary film that features stunning locales, revealing interviews, jubilant live footage, and glimpses of Switchfoot at home and in their studio in San Diego. Like Rattle and Hum meets Endless Summer, the movie is part travelogue, part surf film, and part behind-the-scenes look at the making of the band’s upcoming new album, which will also be entitled Fading West.
Not surprisingly, the album, which finds Switchfoot returning to the melodic pop sensibility of their early years, was inspired by the sea, which Jon describes as a perfect metaphor for simultaneously experiencing comfort and danger. “You’re comfortable out there, but it’s the unknown,” he says. “You can paddle out in South Africa and it’s exactly like home and nothing like home all at once. That’s what I’m hoping our record feels like — trying to find peace in dangerous places.”
There’s a memorable scene in Fading West where the band members are paddling out at Uluwatu with their friend, surf champ Rob Machado. Jon says he had a major epiphany that day. “As I sat on my board in the Indian Ocean, I realized that these waves could eventually make it back to my home of San Diego thousands of miles away,” he says. “That rhythm and pulse was really grounding and inspiring on so many levels. It made me grasp the dichotomy between the pull of the road and the pull toward getting back home. It’s like we had to leave home to find home. For a long time, home was a place of failure because it meant that we didn’t have any shows,” Jon adds. “When you drop out of college in your early ’20s and all your friends are getting jobs and you’re the guy who lives with his parents, it’s way better to be on the road. Only recently did I feel like home was a place where I could feel comfortable and content.”
Switchfoot traces its roots to the beaches of San Diego when the Foremans and Butler connected as surfers (Jerome Fontamillas joined in September 2000 and Drew Shirley in 2005). Though they competed in national surf championships on weekends, their real bond came from a common love of music. They decided to form a band, chose the name Switchfoot (a surfing term), put themselves through months of sweaty rehearsals in their garage, and then hit the road. After just 20 gigs, Switchfoot signed with re:Think Records and released three albums, The Legend of Chin (1997), New Way To Be Human (1999), and the gold-certified Learning to Breathe (2000), before signing with Columbia Records, which released their fourth album, The Beautiful Letdown, on its Red/Ink subsidiary, upping the band to Columbia proper after the album sold more than a million copies. (It eventually sold 2.6 million.) The band released two more albums with Sony, 2005’s Nothing Is Sound, which debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard album chart, and 2006’s Oh! Gravity., which climbed to No. 1 on the iTunes Album chart, before going their separate ways with the company.
Itching for creative freedom, Switchfoot financed the building of its own studio where they recorded their seventh album, the hard-hitting Hello Hurricane, and its groove-oriented follow-up Vice Verses, both of which they released on their own lowercase people records via Atlantic Records. (Jon also released four solo EPs and a debut album with Fiction Family, his side project with Nickel Creek’s Sean Watkins.)
Along the way, Switchfoot have been steadfast in their commitment to giving back by supporting various humanitarian causes, such as DATA, the ONE Campaign, Habitat for Humanity, Invisible Children, and To Write Love on Her Arms. In 2005, the band held its first annual Bro-Am, a day-long event that includes a surf contest, live concert on the beach, charity auction, and after-party at local tavern Belly Up. Now in its ninth year, the Bro-Am has raised more than $715,000 to benefit local children’s charities that aid at-risk, homeless, and street kids in San Diego. “We’ve got a really young fan base and some of the kids who come to our shows are homeless,” Tim says. “You’d never know it, but they are. I think we’ve always been drawn to the underdog, and I can’t think of a bigger underdog than a kid who’s fighting for his life at the age of 12.”
Switchfoot premiered Fading West on opening night of the 2013 Summer X-Games in August. (The band have been very active in the action sports world, having performed at numerous NFL and MLB post-game events, as well as at the US Open of Surfing in 2011.) They will spend the fall on a unique tour, with the film serving as the opening act to a more intimate, stripped down performance from the band. The film will be released digitally towards the end of 2013, with the new album seeing it’s release on January 14, 2014.
We weren’t chasing anything in particular when we started the band,” Jon says in the film. “We simply had these songs that we loved playing. It’s that joy that fueled us and it’s that joy that has kept us going and brought us to here.”
Picture the quintessential rock band. Maybe they’re standing on a grimy street corner with their arms crossed, looking tough, or maybe they’re goofing around in a sunlit field. They could be wearing motorcycle jackets or cowboy shirts or feather boas. They might sound austere and angry or epic and stadium-ready. But what they have in common, regardless of aesthetic, is that they stand together, shoulder-to-shoulder, brothers and sisters in arms. A real rock band is a gang. A group of people united by a shared commitment to what matters in the world, what matters in life, and an insatiable need to communicate that sensibility to anyone else out there who might relate.It’s this idea – that your band is your life and vice versa – that bonds the four members of Nashville-based rock band Colony House. Frontman Caleb Chapman, drummer Will Chapman, guitarist Scott Mills, and bassist Parke Cottrell are all married guys in their twenties, so they don’t really fit the rockstar cliché: there’s no champagne cork popping or model chasing with this crew. “We always kind of joke – you think people think we’re a cool band?” says Caleb, chuckling. “The joke is that we know we’re not a ‘cool’ band. We’re regular guys.” But when it comes to that most sacred rock and roll thing, where you move on a mission from town to town and stage to stage getting “gnarly and sweaty” as Caleb puts it, in honor of the thing you love, this band has that part down cold. “We’re not sex drugs and rock and roll,” Caleb says, laughing. “We’re just rock and roll.”Colony House is gearing up to release their major label debut, Only the Lonely, via Descendant/RCA. The title is a shout-out to the king of elegiac melancholy – “Obviously it’s a direct Roy Orbison reference,” says Caleb. And that might initially seem at odds with Colony House’s sound, a madcap aural rollercoaster borrowing from the anthemic swell of the Killers to the harmonic sass of the Beach Boys to the wit of Vampire Weekend. But beneath the band’s whirlwind of ecstatic guitar playing and intricate melodies you’ll find their real signature: emotion. They write about being desperately lonely. They write about being desperately joyful. But what makes a Colony House song a Colony House song is the sheer feeling it conveys. “We want to connect with people,” explains Caleb, mentioning a favorite quote by van Gogh. There’s a great fire that burns within me but no one stops to warm themselves by it, and passersby only see a wisp of smoke. “I mean, this is Vincent van Gogh we’re talking about!” he continues. “The whole world knows his work! But he felt this loneliness, this sense of, I have so much I have to offer but no one stops to see it.” Colony House’s primary aim is to see that fire. To witness it, as Caleb puts it, “in ourselves, and in the people that come to see us play. That’s what we’re about.”If this sounds like an unusually high-minded goal for a bunch of twenty-something dudes in a rock and roll band, there’s a reason for that: the guys in
Colony House may be young, but they’re serious about their work. And they’ve been at it a while. “So … me and my brother, we know each other for obvious reasons,” says Caleb, as he begins to explain how they all met. Caleb is older, “by sixteen months,” he points out. “I think we have twin tendencies.” The two brothers come from a long line of musicians. “If you’re ever in Paducah, Kentucky and you see ‘Chapman Music’ on the side of the road, that’s my grandpa’s music shop,” Caleb says. Grandpa Chapman’s son, Steven Curtis Chapman, Caleb and Will’s dad, is also a musician. He grew up “playing southern gospel and bluegrass,” in Kentucky, Caleb says, then moved to Nashville and became a songwriter. “He found success in the contemporary Christian music world,” Caleb continues. “This is a proud son thing to say, but he really helped shape what that industry is.” For Will and Caleb, visiting dad at the office meant climbing aboard a tour bus. “That’s what really inspired me and my brother to start playing music,” Caleb recalls. “We were like, we want to do what dad does.”Knowing what you want to do and actually doing it are two different things. It took the Chapman brothers a while, but by the end of 2009, around the time they met Scott, things really started to gel. “My cousin brought him to our little sister’s birthday party, and he’s like, Scott plays guitar if you ever need a guitar player.” They actually did, and eventually Scott became the first guy in the band not named Chapman. Scott knew of Parke from back home in Knoxville. He had a reputation as killer guitarist and piano player, but they’d never met until Colony House asked Parke to open up, as a solo artist, for one of their Knoxville shows. He did. It went very well. And thus began a multi-year getting-to- know-you period between Colony House and Parke.Three years after that show in Knoxville, Colony House asked Parke to come out and play bass with them for a couple weeks. Parke borrowed a friend’s bass, met the guys in Atlanta, and has played every show since. He was officially added to the line-up in the spring of this year.It matters, when you tour with the intensity Colony House tours, that all the people you’re sharing a van with have your back. And it matters that all the people waiting for you back at home do too. “For us at least, they go hand in hand,” Caleb says. “If you’re falling apart in one place, it directly impacts the other.” After the band released their 2014 debut (on Descendant) they proceeded to play over 200 shows the following year in support of it. “We wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, this is the dream,” says Caleb. “But it’s also work.” Discovering that they could be exactly where they wanted to be, living the dream out on the road while simultaneously missing home gave the band a new insight into what they see as a universal human struggle. “Everyone has things they miss, everyone has things they’re worried about – even when life is going great, it can still feel hard, and there’s no shame in saying that, there is no shame in saying you’re lonely or sad, that’s part of the beauty of life,” Caleb says.
And that’s really what Only the Lonely seeks to capture in thirteen impassioned tracks: joy reached via a shared appreciation of struggle. The album’s first single, “You & I,” reflects this quest for communal catharsis. It started as Caleb’s attempt to step outside the super-personal stance he usually takes with lyrics and move instead towards something more of the times. “I was challenged by a friend of ours, he was like Dylan or Kristofferson or the Highwaymen, they wrote songs about the times, about the political climate and the social climate, and you just don’t hear as much of that in our music.” He was right, Caleb thought. “So I decided to give it a shot.” “You & I” is not a political song, per se, but it’s as close as the band has come thus far. “I’ve seen the same thing on the news over and over again and it’s heartbreaking, infuriating, depressing,” he says. “Basically, when someone says, ‘I disagree with you,’ what’s normal seems to be to say, ‘okay, build the wall!’ I feel like my role is to keep that wall from being built as long as possible.”Another of the album’s stand-out tracks is “You Know It,” which Caleb accurately characterizes as “this total surf rock jam.” The song gets at that “push pull,” as he puts it, of wanting to pay enough attention to all the different things you love in your life. It opens with lyrics directed to his wife, reassuring her that he’ll be back from the road before she knows it, and mid-song, flips to say the same thing to the crowd. “I want to be both places,” he says, smiling. Caleb finished writing the song, appropriately enough, in the back of the van, on a sleepless cross-country sprint from Nashville to San Francisco, with a stop over at the Grand Canyon. They had to drive it straight because they’d stayed home as long as possible, but the drive was so inspiring, they played the newborn track at the very first tour stop.“The greatest performers, whether they’re jumping all over the stage or standing still the entire night, they manage to connect with everyone in the room,” says Caleb. “They are able to make you feel not just like, I was honored to be in the room that night, but like, I was a part of something that night.” That feeling is what drives and inspires Colony House. And it drives and inspires them to very lofty goals. “When we play our music, we dream about hearing it in an arena one day,” Caleb says. “Some people say you shouldn’t dream so big, but why would we put a ceiling on something that we love so much?”
In North Central Washington State, Tyson Motsenbocker grew up in the apple orchards and pine forests at the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. It’s the pastoral sound of his childhood that has defined the sound of his music, even among the freeways and fast pace of his new Southern California home. After the release of two EP’s Until it Lands and Rivers and Roads Motsenbocker defined himself as a mature lyricist and accomplished songwriter, sharing the stage with the likes of David Bazan, Vance Joy and James Bay.In 2013, after the death of his mother and hero, Motsenbocker walked the six hundred mile stretch of coastline to San Francisco in memory of her. In the contrast of loud cars on a dirty highway with the serene beauty of the Pacific Ocean Motsenbocker contracted a new view of life beyond loss, a renegotiated relationship with God and peace inside the turmoil. This walk would become the basis for his debut full length record available now on Tooth & Nail Records.Motsenbocker has two brand new EPs, Almira and A Kind Invitation, which both released late 2017.