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Testify - Ryan Hendrix of Colourmusic

Submitted by RamonLP4 on July 14, 2024 – 9:00 amNo Comment

Colourmusic and their clones

Colourmusic’s fuzzy guitar fueled trips of psychedelic sing-a-longs have a  certain joyful folky weirdness about them. Maybe that’s what happens when you mix up people from Stillwater, Oklahoma and Yorkshire, England, drop in a neat neurologically-based condition, and toss in some wild shows - you get a band interesting enough to warrant Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips to sing their praises. We kind of think they are neat as well and since they are playing Fitzgerald’s this Saturday, we contacted guitarist Ryan Hendrix to discuss the band, Newton, their shows, and rudely insult his drumming skills.

FPH- Explain your whole fascination with color and Isaac Newton and how that evolved.
Hendrix  -Isaac Newton was the first person historically to every publicly suggests that there is a relationship between colors and music.  We knew about all this because our lead singer, Nick Turner, has colour/sound synesthesia and he always talked about the colors he would see when he heard certain bands and usually hated the band if the he didn’t like the colors of the lead singers voice.  When he started the band, he wanted to write music to colors he liked and it went on from there.
FPH - Actually, the idea goes back much further than Newton; the Greeks had some ideas on that that relationship as well. I was just curious what in particular of Newton’s ideas appealed to you guys but  colour/sound synesthesia (aka. Grapheme) sounds really neat.  How is the composition process work with Nick since he has this unique sensitivity to sound?

This is how someone with Color Synesthesia sees letters and numbers (from wikipedia)

Hendrix  -Yes, you are right about the Greeks, but what makes Isaac Newton special was that he the first person, as far as I know to specifically notate a specific color to a specific pitch so that “A” is red, Orange is “B”, etc.  7 whole notes and 7 colors of the light spectrum.  When you think about music from this lens, then it changes the way you think of harmony, since you’ll want to group notes based on what colors go together.  Newton’s specific notation has been altered by lots of artists over time like Goethe and Kandinsky and so forth.  I don’t think anyone has ever organized a pattern that totally makes sense.  We changed it so red is “E”, orange is “F”, which is behind our first album title.  Nick doesn’t see colors the same way Newton does or anyone does.  He gets an overall picture of the sound and will have really specific irritations with particular sounds or instruments. So to answer your last question, basically Nick gets irritated about something really specific that most of us would just accept as part of basic music making.  Like, he hates hi-hats.  We have to fight him to get a hi-hat in a song.  It drives us nuts, but at the same time these obstacles force us to rethink our songwriting.

FPH - SEXROCK?  Elucidate please.
Hendrix  -It’s actually Oklahoma Sexrock, and I think that’s what I’d call an oxymoron.  People in Oklahoma-and this is a fact-don’t actually have sex.  
FPH - You guys do wild themes for your shows.  How did that come about, what was the best and which was the most disastrous?
Hendrix  - That’s actually not true, the band from Oklahoma that did theme shows is called Other Lives.  The best show they ever did was when they had their clothes cut off during a performance, which was also the most disastrous because someone scratched their cello.  They are a great band and worthy of checking out.
FPH - Well, that’s not really exactly true.  Maybe “theme” is the wrong word for it. The Denver post wrote “The quintet started its set in all-white outfits, from a painter’s suit to white slacks and a white turtleneck. And as the set progressed, friends boarded the stage and painted their suits - and their set, which was crafted blank canvas. By set’s end, the stage was awash in color.” (1) and The Daily O’Collegian said “Colourmusic performed skits that introduced the band to the audience. The band also proclaimed David Duchovny to be the greatest actor alive and handed out cookies in the shape of Duchovny’s head.”(2)   Call it a theme, call it goonygoogoo if you want but that’s what I am talking about.  I mean there is some thought put into these shows from what I can tell.  Do you care to elaborate?

Hendrix  - Damn, you’re bringing out the sources.  And all I wanted to do is promote our friends band.  Yes we did stuff like that, but we’re on a different trip these days.  It started to feel a bit like Broadway and that’s not really what our new record is about.
FPH - What do you have planned for this particular show? What people expect?
Hendrix  - Sound, followed by an inner ear infection.

FPH -  The drum gods are less than pleased with you and Nick’s  prior attempts to play drums.  They demand a sacrifice, so one of you has to go.  Which is more deserving of death and why?  Plead your case now!

Hendrix  -Geez, I’m sorry I ever existed.  Yes I shouldn’t play the drums.  My name is Ryan Hendrix and I have no rhythm.   Instead, I should be torn apart by wild animals.  Put your foot on my heart.
FPH - No, seriously now.  You guys started as a duo and added Cory Suter because whatever you guys were doing on percussion wasn’t getting your ideas where you wanted them to be. Then you added Nick Ley and Colin Fleishacker along the way as well.  What unique qualities did each of those guys bring into the mix that made the band more than it was without them?

Hendrix  - I guess I didn’t understand the question.  I think they’ve brought more conflict, which is important.  Basically we fight more, instead of two egos, there are four (Corey is no longer with us) and everyone demands to be heard.  I like the music we’ve made at this moment a lot and I’m interested to see how what else we will make, but I’m not sure how long we will be able to stand each other.

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Colourmusic perform with Royal Bangs Saturday July 16 @ Fitzgerald’s. All ages, 21+ FREE!, Under 21 $5, Doors 8pm

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