Awesome Color

author MT date 09/06/10

I was recently offered to interview Awesome Color, who's new album "Massa Hypnos" I reviewed a little while back. I jumped at the opportunity to not only learn more about this Detroit based band, but also to give them a little more exposure to the rest of the world. Their bassist Michael was kind enough to give some very insightful answers, proving they are not just your regular run-of-the-mill rock band; their background being just as colourful as the band's muisc. Please introduce yourselves to the readers and what role you play in the band.
Michael: Michael, bass guitar. Do you guys do anything else on the side or is Awesome Color a full-time gig?
Michael: Sometimes we work, when we’re not on tour. We go see our friends’ bands play a lot, depending on where we are, either in Michigan or New York City. We play other music too. Can you please tell us a little bit about the origins of the band and how you came to be?
Michael: Derek had a practice space in his Brooklyn loft and Allison and I would come over sometimes to jam. Our friend Colin from the band Usaisamonster asked us to play a show a few months later. We had three “jam” songs at the time and thought it was good enough to give it a start. Not many of us here in Denmark know much about the music scene in Detroit. Can you describe it to us and how coming from that city has influenced you?
Michael: It’s an amazing city. It’s super-inexpensive to live here and so it attracts a lot of creative folks: artists and musicians especially. There are always great bands coming out of Detroit. A lot no one ever hears about outside of the area but they are always influencing each other and everyone is in general very supportive. Because the “scene” is pretty small, there aren’t so many cliques. You will see rockers at noise shows and noise people at funk and soul events, for example. People don’t seem to be so hung up as in bigger cities about being cool and therefore a lot more energy can be put into the actual quality of the music or art or whatever people are creating. How did you get picked up by your label Ecstatic Peace!?
Michael: We played a gig in Northampton, Massachusetts, where Thurston Moore lives and where his label is based. A friend of his was at the show and said some kind words about us to Thurston. Apparently Thurston checked out our Myspace page when we only had a couple demo songs up there. He particularly liked our song “Free Man” and sent us a Myspace message asking us if he could put out a record. When I received a promo copy your new album “Massa Hypnos”, which acted as an introduction to your band, I was blown away. How do you feel the response to the album has been so far? Are you as satisfied about it now as you were when you had just completed it?
Michael: The response would be different depending on who you asked in the band. I have read some reviews of it and they too seem pretty different. I think people either really love it or they totally hate it. Frankly speaking, making the record was a very frustrating experience and not something I would ever want to repeat. Making a record should be fun. Making this record was not fun and I’m not really satisfied with how half the record came out.

After saying that, I’m just glad the process is finished. It’s not “my” record anymore. It’s the listeners’ record now. “Massa Hypnos” sounds more energetic and raw than your previous record “Electric Aborigines”. Was your approach to the song writing any different this time around?
Michael: We don’t really write songs. We come up with riffs and then jam them out in practices until Derek can sing over them and they sort of resemble songs. A few of the songs on this newest record came together really quickly and were written specifically because we needed more songs to put on the record. As a result, we hadn’t been playing those as long as we had the songs on the first two records before recording so maybe that has something to do with the rawness. The sound of the band has a very retro and unpolished feel, which finds you swimming against the current stream of today’s over-produced music. With the technology to make a sonically “perfect” record these days, what stimulates Awesome Color to take another direction?
Michael: Probably just that we all like listening to vinyl records. Most of time I would rather listen to stuff that sounds raw and has “mistakes” and sounds weird, rather than things that sound “amazing” and “perfect” but have no personality or soul as a result. There’s definitely great music being made today but as far as rock music goes, it’s hard to deny the force and power of the stuff from the 60s and 70s. To tie in with the previous question, how involved were you in the production of “Massa Hypnos”?
Michael: We were all in the studio to lay down the basic tracks together. Some overdubbing was done. The album wasn’t really produced in the classical sense of the word. When Derek mixed it, he added some elements of production. Is there a concept behind the psychedelic artwork of your albums?
Michael: Our friend, Gregory McKeighan, comes up with our album artwork and he’s tuned into a lot of things: mysticism, astrology, pop culture. I can’t really speak for him but I know that he’s a deep-soul and a very talented artist.

There are running themes that tie the artwork from the three albums together but I’m not sure there’s a concept that could be made explicit. That would be a question for Gregory, the artist. The art in my mind seems to get crazier and better with each album. Is there any chance the European fans will get a chance to see you live sometime soon?
Michael: Hopefully in July and August. One word to sum up the band?
Michael: Live. Anything else you’d like to put out there for the readers?
Michael: Thanks for taking the time to contact us and to the readers, thanks for reading this. Now get outside and do something!

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