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Colony House Are Diving Back Into Their Roots

Colony House Are Diving Back Into Their Roots

Caleb Chapman thinks the best compliment he ever received was from a fan after a Colony House show.

“She told me our music is like if The Sandlot made music,” Chapman laughed. “I mean, it just doesn’t get better than that.”

(L-R) Scott Mills, Parke Cottrell, Caleb Chapman, Will Chapman

They’d been in the middle of a conversation with a few when she dropped the compliment. Chapman shared that interactions with fans like her motivate the band to keep honing their sound and moving forward with their music.

“The most important thing for us is that Colony House remains a conversation,” he said. “I want fans to feel like they can be our friend, because we want to be their friends through our music.”

Colony House fans have been integral to the success of the band from the very start, all the way back in 2009. While they were still in high school, brothers Caleb and Will Chapman teamed up with Scott Mills and Parke Cottrell to form their indie rock band. For over a decade, the Nashville-based band has traveled the world together, sharing their one-of-a-kind surf-rock sound with millions of fans.

“We’ve always said we want to be a conversational band,” Caleb said. “We want it to be a two-way street. Not just us putting music out, but us putting music out and then really listening to the response and hearing how people translate these lyrics. What they’re responding to as a collection of songs, and then the next batch of songs is usually a response to that.”

After years on the road, however, the pandemic forced the band to return to their homes in Tennessee and stay put for the first time in a long time. Initially, Caleb shared, the guys weren’t sure what their future looked like. But they knew it would involve their music.

“We didn’t want it to feel like a post-pandemic album,” he said. “We didn’t want it to feel like this is what we did when we had nothing else to do. It wasn’t going to be a lockdown album, even if a lot of these songs were naturally inspired by that season of all of our lives. That’s not what I wanted it to feel like.”

But as they each spent more time refamiliarizing themselves with the Nashville and Franklin roads, they knew exactly what they wanted their next album to look and sound like.

Cannonballers is our love letter to Tennessee,” Chapman said. “We all fell back in love with our home when we were there for more than a few weeks. We saw summer turn to fall, fall turned to winter, winter became spring. And it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve missed this.’”

The bandmates revisited their old stomping grounds, taking in the Nashville skyline, attending shows at venues where they first started out, visiting the skate park for hours upon hours at, even catching up with old, old friends. The nostalgia was overwhelming and forced the band to assess their past, present and future.

“During those initial months back in our hometowns, we were remembering back on the times when we didn’t have a care in the world,” Chapman said, “and were were coming to terms with the pace of life that we’ve all found ourselves in. The pandemic was able to shine a big light on that because we were all forced into this sort of sabbatical.”

Creating the album took Colony House on a nostalgic and therapeutic process.

“Nostalgic is a beautiful word, and I think it’s because it is an all-encompassing word,” Chapman said. “Nostalgia isn’t only fun memories — it dives deeper into the hard memories and into the struggles, seeing how that all pans out.”

The writing in particular brought out a wide range of emotions for the band. For Chapman, it was the first time he’d sat down to fully process a lot of changes he’d faced over the last decade. Growing up in their 20s, falling in and out of love, getting married, setting goals and watching their dreams come true alongside their best friends — it was an emotional season for the band.

“Music is like a journal to us. As we were working on these songs, we all had smiles on our faces and tears in our eyes,” Chapman said.

But Chapman shared that the band didn’t want the album to just be a personal diary of sorts. Rather, they wanted to connect with fans and speak to the familiar journey of growing up and letting go of the life you thought you were living, relearning and unlearning how the world works along the way.

Of course, the band knows they don’t have all the answers. Chapman was very adamant that through the writing process of Cannonballers, Colony House realized they still have a lot left to learn.

“With this album, we wanted to remind people we’re having the same conversations everyone else is having. We still have fears we’re letting go of and questions we’re still trying to find the answers to.”

Cannonballers goes through a range of emotions listeners all know well. From struggling with anxiety on “One of Those Days” to working through nostalgia on “Trying to Survive” to experiencing the thrill of making new memories with old friends on “Landlocked Surf Rock,” the album speaks to what it means to be human. And what it looks like to softly admit you’re still figuring life out.

One of the biggest lessons the band is still learning is who they want to be. Returning to their hometowns allowed them to reconnect with their younger selves in an empowering way. Over the years, Chapman shared, he found himself saying yes to things he hadn’t dreamed of, for better or worse. And while he’s happy with where he ended up, he’s entering a new season with a new perspective.

“I want to pace myself better,” he said. “It sounds cliche, but there is a power in saying, ‘no.’ I’m realizing that when you learn to be comfortable with that, you actually start defining lines for yourself and you actually will be more productive. Things will be more fruitful when you get used to it, if it’s indeed out of wanting to be diligent and not wanting to do something.”

Part of redefining his view on life has involved thinking through how his belief system impacts all other parts of his life. Chapman spoke to how being raised in Christian homes — especially the home of a very well-known Christian artist — shaped the band’s worldview.

“I think a challenge we face, being all dudes raised in a very Christian culture, is that it’s a challenge for us to not feel like we have to give a final answer on everything,” Chapman said. “I think that’s a challenge for a lot of people with conviction or with beliefs. Even if we know it’s OK to not have all the answers, it’s still scary.”

It can be nerve-wracking to release songs that are full of questions instead of answers. Chapman knows that fans often turn to music and artists for help figuring out life. But the band doesn’t want to be one-sided artists.

“So many times, artists are coming into their songs as like, ‘Here’s my solution,’” Chapman explained. “That’s a bold statement. What’s put us all on our heels in a really beautiful way is we’re all having to go, ‘Not only do we not have the answers right now, but we are a big part of the problem and we never knew it.’ That’s scary and exciting as a writer. To be like, ‘How am I going to communicate something that is empowering and hopeful, but also convicting?’”

Writing Cannonballers allowed the band to explore those fears, questions and thoughts that have infiltrated their lives, without figuring out the answer in the end.

“I’ve been trying to challenge myself as a songwriter to leave a few more dots in songs,” Chapman said. “These songs don’t have to answer all the questions. I think for me and the rest of the guys, the culture we grew up in made us feel like we need to filter things through a certain lens and find a definitive answer. But as we all know, that’s not how life works.

“Our music is observational,” he continued. “It’s about what’s happening in our lives, our friends, our families, our marriages or kids. All of that is interwoven together with our beliefs and how we’re walking through that.”

That doesn’t mean that Cannonballers is a “faith album,” however, and Chapman makes that clear. Rather, their beliefs simply impact all parts of their lives, which extends to their music.

“My faith is a part of everything in my life, so I’d have to say, of course it’s part of the music,” Chapman said. “But there was a certain point where we felt like we had to stop defining ourselves as a Christian act. For us, that label didn’t matter.

“When we stopped trying to define ourselves, there was so much freedom in that when you’re not trying to stick on certain labels and creatively let you let you off the hook somehow,” he continued.

It’s why Colony House’s music isn’t considered Christian music, but is still bursting with hope. Chapman shared the band wants to encourage listeners to recognize the reality of the world, which can be heavy and difficult, but still choose to pursue hope and fun.

“It’s funny, but I’ve always found writing fun and happy songs is way harder than writing sad ones,” Chapman admitted. “Those are so easy for me at least — and not even sad, but just heavy, heavy content.

“But when we sit down to write songs, we intentionally look for hope,” he continued. “And not just the low-hanging fruit, because hope can sometimes feel like a cheesy, easy answer. But figuring out how to write a real yet hopeful song is something we’re always thinking about. We want our music to spark a bigger conversation with our fans.”

It all comes back to conversations. Colony House doesn’t want to limit who they could be, or even who can be a fan of the band. Rather, they treat their music as an open door, inviting listeners from all walks of life into their music. They’re looking for conversations to spark between themselves and their fans.

“Our mission statement is, ‘the door is always open, so come on in,’” Chapman said. “I guess in a way, that’s faith-influenced, but it’s also not. It’s just a general way we like to live our lives and operate as hospitable people.”

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