As the singer of UK rock band Hundred Reasons, Colin Doran has toured the world. However, with his new project, They Fell From The Sky, which sees the vocalist team up with long time friend Jason Bowld, there are no plans to take the project out on the road when they release their debut album. To find out why, and to find out more about how the project came together, we recently spoke with Colin.
Hi Colin. Finally, we get to do this.
Colin Doran: “It’s been a long time coming and now we finally speak.”
Excellent stuff. So how is life treating you?
“Surviving. It’s been a weird 15 months, but just keeping busy over the last 15 months with the new projects.”
So how did They Fell From The Sky happen then?
“It’s just, well, it’s been something that we’ve written over quite a long period of time, actually. It’s been not doing too much over the last year, just sitting all finished, you know, while we talked about what we’re going to do with it.”
I know you’ve obviously worked with Jason before in This Is Menace. How did the idea for this project come together?
“I think Jason had some riffs and ideas knocking about and he sent them over to me. I liked them and got together some ideas to put on it. It just went from there really, quite organic. There is no pressure or anything like that. It was just, you know, Jason just called me up one day and said he had just got this stuff going on did I fancy having a look. It was rude to not get involved really.”
Absolutely. What was going on with you at the time? Did you have anything going on musically?
“I wasn’t in too much musically at the time. I think the thing for me is I don’t try to spread myself too thin. Sometimes, if you end up kind of, you know, being in this and doing that, and everything else around you, I think it can compromise what you’re actually trying to do. I just take each project as it comes and if I’m working on that project, I’m just working on that project. It wasn’t really necessarily the case where They Fell From The Sky, because it just took a long time to come together. I pick my projects very carefully. I take projects that I can put my heart into, and if I think something is worth it, I’m going to do it, but I don’t want to be on everything.”
That’s fair enough. Obviously, you’ve got a connection with Jason, like we said. What was it about this project that made you think it was worth it?
“It’s just, it was just really good and I really like the ideas behind it. Also, I’ve always lent personally to the more heavier side of music anyway. Yeah. I love bands like Meshuggah and bands like that… Will Haven, Converge and stuff like that. So for me, it’s not like an alien world to be confronted with an incredibly heavy band. For me, it’s just a case of seeing what can I put over that might be a little bit different. You know? Put my own stamp on it and I think, had the scope to do that. I think that when I write my melodies and what I do in terms of that thing, I don’t feel as though sound like other people.”
How did it work getting everything together then? Jason has had the material together for quite a while now and with nobody being allowed in the same room as each other for the last 15 months, how did the recording work?
“Well, we didn’t really write in a room anyway, everything was done remotely. And, you know, it’s amazing what this internet thing can do these days. It came together and, when we had ideas, rather than try to flesh out ideas in a room, yeah, which might happen when I go into record. So, Dave Draper was the guy that was recording it all, played the guitar, and wrote the material as well. When Dave and I just got together to effectively lay ideas down, sometimes they will evolve, like, whilst you’re in the room so that, you know, that happened quite organically. But a lot of the time, it was like this idea of doing that and then I’ll have an idea in my head, chat with Dave or whatever, or Jason or whatever and they’d have their ideas and we’d work it all together. So, it was very collaborative, but very, you know, just all done remotely, pretty much apart from when it was time to get in and record it.
And, you know, Jason, is such a good drummer anyway, that, you know, every time that he records tracks on something, it’s something that isn’t going to take him long to do; it’s offensive how good he is. And then Dave Draper, and I, you know, just have a really good workflow. So yeah, he’s quick, very easy and we’re not one of these types of people who are necessarily precious over things. I think I get precious over lyrics because they mean something in a personal way to you. But when it comes to melodies, if you can sit and work through your ideas, you can get to write very quickly, because no one is saying that you having to do it this exact, precise way. So, it works really well in the creative context that we have. You know, Dave will come down to my house or whatever and we work on some stuff, and then go back and mix it and sometimes change the music underneath or likewise the other way around. So it was very easy.”
Which is exactly how it should be…
“Yeah, there’s no real urge to worry about everybody getting in the same room. It’s great if everybody can do their job. I’ve said this in a couple of other chats with people where, you know, I’m not into the idea of going out on the road again, trying to start a new band, because it doesn’t work. Yeah, you know, I’m sure my work would let me have the time off to let me go and do that, but it’s not something you can really justify at this stage in my life. Yeah. So for that reason, obviously, with Jason’s commitments to Bullet For My Valentine, that takes priority. So, we didn’t even figure out musically what we were going to do with it, the album sat around, I think, for the best part of the year. I had a bit of a listen. I had a chat with him. We talked and we agreed we just wanted to put it out, we just want people to hear it. We’re not worried about success or anything, we just want people to hear it because we love the music.”
This leads to my next question. It’s been described as a studio-only project. What prompted that decision, although you’ve touched on that when you said you don’t really fancy going out on the road again…
“It’s not that you don’t want to play shows necessarily, but it’s got to be worthwhile for everybody to get together to do it. Dave, who’s worked incredibly hard on this record, as we all have, but you know, he’s a very in-demand producer is pretty much busy all the time. Jason’s busy all the time. We’re all busy. So, if we were to play a show it would have to be something special. It would have to be right and not about going to play The Dog & Bucket to ten people to try and start something new again.
I always say this anyway, I think that thing where you want to do that, that’s what I would call just a young person’s game. You’ve got to have the energy to do it. You’ve got to be selfish enough and have a lack of commitments elsewhere to be able to do it. There’s nothing wrong with being selfish. You have to be selfish to be able to go and do what you need to do to build a career for yourself in the early days of your life. So from that perspective, if a good festival slot comes up, or something is good to do then I would never say never but we’re not like we’ve got a new album out so we’ve got to go out and tour it. I don’t really feel the need to go and do that.”
You say you don’t feel the need to tour but do you think the fact that gigs have been non-existent has helped you from getting that itch to go out on the road?
“There’s always an itch. The itch always comes usually when you go to a show and it was amazing. Generally, I think the idea is to always almost be realistic about it as well. So, if you’re releasing something, it’s effectively just going to be a potentially singular body of work where maybe you go and do something every now and then. Then I think that makes it more special too rather than, again, trying to oversell something and work something.
The response to the songs that we’ve released so far has been really positive and really happy about that. Like I say, if a good show comes our away, I can’t say hand on heart that it’s not going to happen. I think it just has to be the right thing but I don’t mean that in terms of money. I think it’s just the right setting. The right bands, that thing where you feel like it’s going to be a good time. I’m not some musician that suddenly is going to have maybe a midlife crisis. I don’t feel any need to recapture the glory days or anything like that. That’s just not me. I enjoy being creative. I enjoy hanging around with creative people and doing those things but yeah, I don’t necessarily feel the need to relive those days.”
In terms of memories though, those were some great days. What are your favourite memories from that period of your life?
“They’re brilliant. It was the best time ever. Yeah, you can’t sit down and knock what happened. We had a modicum of success, played some great shows, hung out with some amazing people and made some great friends. I certainly don’t feel embarrassed of my past or anything. I think it’s just one of those things where it’s not your day-to-day life anymore and that’s fine too. Yeah, you know, that’s ok. A manager always said to us don’t think you’re going to be doing it forever and I think that kept us quite grounded, because what you’re doing is you’re just sitting there glad to be doing what you’re doing, touring the world, hanging out with cool people and making music that you love. That’s definitely not something to be sniffed at.
So, from that perspective, you know, when you have that expectation, when it doesn’t work out, it’s not the end of the world. Me personally, right now, you know, I help run a music business school in London, and a lot of that knowledge was gained by understanding what was my publishing deal, what was in my record deal, how I marketed and those kinds of things. Then, with the reputation that the band had, working hard, getting on with people, that thing. You know, that means that doors don’t shut in your face when it’s not really working out. Larry took the route of production and producing you know, produces albums now for bands like Sea Girls, Nothing But Thieves, Marmosets, these cool bands. Without the band, we wouldn’t have any of that. Our expectation was to just have a really good time, to do what we love whilst we can do it because very few bands actually get to do it for years.”
What do you think about a band like While She Sleeps who are trying a different business model for their album by involving their fans?
“I think that While She Sleeps have always been really good with their fans. Yeah, you know, and I think even when I look back and remember hearing about the maybe four or five years ago, just, I think that connection that they have with their audience, they’ve got that dedicated fanbase. The people that like that band love that band. I think if you can do that, you know, obviously, there was the whole drama with Pledge Music a few years ago which was a shambles.
But, I think that While She Sleeps, and I don’t know the guys personally, but from what I’ve seen about what they do, I think they’ve got a lot of integrity to what they do and I think if your fans can fund you, there’s nothing wrong with that. You don’t always necessarily have to rely on the typical label route. If you’ve got that solid fanbase to be able to do that, then why not and all credit to them.”
It goes back to your comment earlier about how you’ve got to really want to do this because being told that you’re not going to make any money for possibly ten or 12 years, before you start being able to have a life makes it a very hard industry to be in.
“One of my favourite bands ever is Clutch. I know they did the Sony thing as well. I think they did two or three records with Columbia. Yeah, and they used that, if you will, to raise their profile. And then they signed to the odd indie or two here or there then they created their own label and they’re the only people on it. You can email the label boss, and they’ll get back to you. But, you know, they’re in control of everything and what they’ve done is they’ve built something for themselves over a long period of time. I think it goes to show that there is longevity when you do it right.
What you’re doing is not always necessarily looking at making a shit ton of money, so to speak but what you can do is if you can survive in that interim, so when you talk about that ten to 12 years or something, if you can survive that, and have that longevity, then it will build into something a bit more meaningful. Sometimes what that can be about is your fanbase, just getting older. Not to say it is the case with everybody, but maybe what happens is, the guy that is 15 years old or whatever, with his girlfriend at the front and loving it,15 or 20 years later becomes like a project manager or something on a good amount of money and then it means they can buy that special edition reissue set that is a hundred quid. I think when you’ve got those models in place, or that kind of, you know, understanding of the industry, you can carve out your own way.”
It’s nice to get your thoughts on the way the industry is going. Going back to They Fell From The Sky when Jason came to you with the idea, did he have a long term vision for where this is going to go or was it just a case of it him having a bunch of songs?
“It was just ideas, you know? Jason’s like that. He’s really casual and I think we both have a similar approach that you don’t get attached to it until it’s become something. I don’t think Jason necessarily had a vision. I think it was just he had some songs and I liked those songs. It doesn’t have to have like a big rock n’ roll story or anything like that, or a big vision. I think it just has to be some you know, at the end of the day, you’ve got to make music that you love making. If you’re getting to do that, that’s great. Sometimes, it doesn’t have to be this overarching goal. It’s just an organic thing.”
The record’s coming out, have you thought beyond that?
“I think it’s been a conversation but it hasn’t been more than a conversation. Probably the easiest thing to say. The thing is, what we’ve done is we’ve kind of, like I said, we’ve sat on this for quite a while. I can listen to the record, and I love it. A lot of songs are the best stuff I’ve ever done. But when I’m talking to Dave, or something, you know, we finished it and wrapped it up, like a year ago, or something daft like that. So for, us, it’s just not new anymore and I think that when you’re seeing people’s reaction to it, and again, as I said, you know, we’ve been quite lucky so far, the reaction has been really positive. So then, that freshens it up a little bit to you.
We had a little bit of a chat about it the other day, I think, just me and Dave, and we don’t know, it’s probably the easiest way to say things at the moment. It is nice that we can be buoyed by people’s enthusiasm for it. It’s a little bit early to say yes, there’s more coming but it’s also a little bit early to say that there isn’t anything coming.”
As you said, the singles are out, and the reaction has been very positive. What can people expect for the rest of the album?
“It’s an amazing record. It’s genuinely amazing. I think there’s a good variety on there and no ballads. It’s got a good variety going on. There’s stuff on that is even heavier than what you’ve heard right now. There’s stuff where some of the choruses and some of the tracks are just massive. Without even slighting the tracks that have been released, which I think are really, really good, there’s way better to come. I think the idea was to just put a taster out there. The album will hopefully, hopefully, just blow some people away because it’s amazing.”
So, given that it has been sitting on a hard drive for a while, why was now the right time for it to come out?
“I think it’s just because it’s happened this way. It was just right. I think because, at the moment, realistically, if you look at the way you know, the industry is, there is going to be I think a massive raft of new releases over the next six months to a year anyway. A lot of bands that have not been able to tour have gone back to back to the studio to work on songs. So, I think there’s going to be that meaning that it could be argued that the timing is pretty good right now before this huge influx, but I don’t necessarily even feel it’s going to get buried. I mean, it’s not like the old days where you have to go and actually buy a record like you would go down the shops. Now you can stream anything you like. It’s all you can eat. In terms of that, you know, it’s good timing for that but, other than that, it’s just good to get it out and have people listen to it.”
Ok, I think that’s absolutely perfect way to end it. Just to finish, what else is there for you personally? Is there anything else in the pipeline?
“I don’t know, really. I think see how this goes. See what happens with this. As I said, I’m not the person that does stuff every week with music but it doesn’t mean I don’t have ideas. I think the idea is genuinely just to see if there is something worth doing. When one door closes, another one normally opens. So I’ll just see what happens next. And I’ll go down that road if it’s worth travelling down.”
Great, thanks for taking the time to chat, and good luck with everything…
“No problem, I really appreciate it and glad we could actually make this chat.”