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CHRIS COLBERT
on drones, breakfast with amy, the recording of the prayer chain's mercury and much more

(translated from german) Chris Colbert is not to be excluded since end of the 80's no more by the Christian music scene. With its volumes with Amy it BREAK nearly made at the beginning of the 90's with diagonal kind skirt of itself for speeches. The plates of the Amies appeared among other things with Michael Knotts blond Vinyl record, for which Colbert produced some volume. Then Chris Colbert Duraluxe, Fluffy based and co-operated with Tess Wiley. In the recent past it mixed the photographs that read leave Foundation, produced volume for Absalom record and had with ester of urge ?Infinite keys? the fingers in the play. As a clay/tone engineer it mixed Live appearances of U2. The kings of the Messageboards, Diaz and Formerroadie, interviewten Chris Colbert for its magazine Somewherecold . (back to english)



Hello Chris. Thanks for doing this interview. We are a fan of duraluxe and want to know if duraluxe is working on some new stuff? What can we expect from you guys in the future?

troy and i are working on a few new things,were in a regrouping phase right now. troy wanted to go back to school in his hometown of evansville, indiana. that is where we are right now. we have been playing a few show as "la honda", just to play non duraluxe tunes.

we are starting a new record right now. we have about three songs in the works. it's a departure from "the suitcase", sorta. after three years in los angeles\orange county, we have had it with anything commercial sounding. i don't know who will put a new record out, we never have had a solid label situation, three records on three labels, it's frustrating to try and do good work and not have any label support. i always pay for our records myself. i never see royalties. a labor of love, i reckon.

Where did duraluxe receive inspiration for the concept behind "the suitcase?"

that record is about moving and travelling. we have lived in nashville, athens, southern california, and toured a lot since we started the band. we tried to capture the discombobulated state of mind we get in when you spend your life travelling with three dollars in your pocket, and no idea when or where you might score a meal. the record is also about missing your friends who are scattered about the globe. i had to move to california in a hurry when gene eugene died. i had to finish his projects and run the studio. i had to walk away from my life in athens with no notice. i guess the suitcase is mostly about longing for a sense of stability.

Your Breakfast With Amy material is classic in our eyes. Where did you find the inspiration, as a group, to make such thought-provoking, creative, and chaotic music?

breakfast with amy, gee that was so long ago. i don't think i'm the same person i was then, so it is getting hard to comment on it. i was an art student at the time, i think it was mostly motivated as a "dada-ist" comment on modern christianity. i have a hard time with the way christianity is percieved and understood in our little world. BWA was an attempt to get people to notice the riduculous fashion in which the faith has mutated into this alienating beast, that i have witnessed doing as much damage as good in its presentation and understanding.

the band,BWA, was about as disfunctional a band as you can find. no rehearsals, no rules and as many agendas as members. we were inspired a lot by things happening in l.a. at the time. bands like redd kross, janes addiction, and arty bands like sonic youth and bad brains were sorta an influence. as a band we all agreed on sixties pop, so stylistically we started there and let the modern influences direct us. sixties pop was the form, our enviroment and times were the motivation. i kinda miss the performance art part of it. the shows were riduculous, lots of fire.

How did you learn how to play guitar?

how did i learn to play guitar? the ramones and echo and the bunnymen. I did take lessons for a little while from a guy named rusty anderson, he now plays for paul mccartney. after a few months of lessons he said i should go develop my own style, i thought at the time he was dissmissing me because i sucked, but i think he believed i really had a thing. it's taken me 20 years, but i do have a thing with the guitar i call my own.

Besides recording and producing, do you have any other great experiences you would like to share, like doing sound for U2 or working for MTV?

outside the recording studio i've done some cool things. i worked for a company in nyc called effanel music. they have recording trucks and did a lot of live recording for mtv, vh-1 and jive like that. i got to record the sex pistols for 120 minutes, the butthole surfers, too. i worked on a patti smith live recording, an elvis costello "storytellers" show for vh-1.i've done a lot of tour sound, from small club tours to stadiums. oh man, a stadium with 40,000 people in it and i'm in charge of the sound. it's a power trip.

Name 3 cd's that you've worked on that you're most proud of and why.

that is hard to do. i've done maybe 400 records. it changes a lot. i'm really proud of my mix on the new ester drang "infinite keys". a great record. the first morella's forest ummmm, "superdeluxe" i think it's called has always been close to my heart. all the joe christmas\summer hymns stuff. the choir, mineral, anything lassie . "pacifico", oh man, what an amazing record. i mixed it in like five hours, andy prickett tracked it. perfect. when the magic is there, all the planets line up and it falls together. oh yeah, the billions, a moment of musical magic. i didn't know them, the label was nervous about these kids, they thought the songs were too long and were afraid to make the band edit them down in pre-production. on the first day of pre-prod, i told the band the label needed three pop songs, so we will leave you alone for a couple hours. take your three poppiest songs and make them three minute hits. cupie(eric campuzano) and i went outside, smoked a bunch of cigarettes, went back in, and the band had arranged things perfectly.

i could go on all day before i settle on three cd's...

What bands have you been a formal member of, and give us an idea of how you feel about each band's output?

fluffy-flipper and melvins meet the adolescents. the funnest band i was in. no rules, just punk rock. i'm the only former member without a masters degree. my roots are punk rock. i don't know if people got it, is was a little heavy with sarcasm.

breakfast with amy-just what 80's christian music needed. the first time i met gene eugene he went off on me about how i was cheapening the market with that crap. we became great friends. BWA was definately a product of the times.

duraluxe-somewhere along the way i realized that i could actually write good songs. troy o'daugherty and i have a thing when we write. we both get to use our non-music influences in this band. we let william burroughs influence our lyric writing, a lot of cut ups, we get to show our bob dylan influences work, country, folk, grunge, shoegazer, we agree, agree, agree.

i hope more people will get to hear the duraluxe records, there is something there, if you dig in a little.

i've been an informal member of many bands, but i have not been in too many bands of my own, the studio thing takes a lot of time.

Besides duraluxe, what other music are you working on right now?

i have been taking a little break. three years at the green room wore me out. i worked on about 40 records in three years. they each take a little bit of my soul. i have been spending a lot of time listening to my vinyl collection and making beats on my computer. i'm itching to get back into action. the last thing i worked on was some summer hymns in athens in feb., before that i was in chicago mixing the ester drang record.

Give us your thoughts on the recording process of the prayer chain's mercury (one of our fave cd's at somewhere cold)

a good record takes a little conflict, mercury was a f$%#@&g war! you can hear the band break up on the record, you can see them extend a warm and heartfelt middle finger to the industry. it started off with a lot of hope and expectation, trying to escape the grunge tag they got from shawl. the first couple weeks were great, it was wayne, eric, andy, steve hindalong and myself. the drones were taken seriously, the verve and drummers of burundi were blasting through the big speakers, there was some strong drink. we were left alone. after this first couple of weeks tim showed up. then the label people started to hang around the sessions. this is when the war began, tim and the label vs. everyone else.

don't get me wrong, i love tim, but he loved the rock star aspects of the shawl era, while the rest of them wanted to be taken seriously as artists. their quick rise and sucess kinda alienated them from a lot of the musicians who had paid their dues, but recieved no glory.

anyway, i was the first person at the studio on the first day, and i finished the last mixes by myself, i was the last man standing. i think the conflict is what makes that record pretty good, i wish the original version was the one released. the label kinda ruined it for me with all the changes. the best moment- andy singing sunstoned. the best vocal on the record. the drone for humb, which was mostly my doing, was fun. the tapes for mercury were in my possession for years. one day i came home and found that my basement was flooded. floating across the water was the box for reel two of mercury. the track sheet for grylliade was washed up on the stairs. the masters for that record are now in a nashville landfill.

You have put out a call to travel around and record people. With all your experience and established reputation in music, what drives you to do this?

mostly the experience that compells me is the adventure, the travel. i've been everywhere in north america, i went to norway to record, in january of 2001, january dude. it was like minus 10 the whole time.

how did you discover drones?

o.k., bear with me on drones, i get a little metaphysical about drones. i'm a big fan of indian music, and i really like to study religion and the nature of belief. i read the Upanishads as much as the Bible, i study all religions to define my own beliefs. the drone is important, it's the sound of the mystery of the universe. it is the "OM", or more accurately the AUM of meditation. the buddhists, the hindus and the early church of Christ all use the AUM, gregorians, russian orthodox, they take the directive to pray and meditate much more seriously than american christianity.

when done properly all the vowel sounds are represented, consonants are interruptions, the beat is an interruption of the essential sound. the drone should put you in a place to recieve the resounding being that is the universe. in Hesse 's siddartha the river was the drone that put the hero in touch with God.

an example would be the prayer chain "humb" drone. it really can open you up to recieve the message, it is calming and rapturous at the same time. the sanskrit term for this is "ananda". that it the meaning of the last letter of the AUM. so the drone is the meditation. it could be with properties, like meditating on God, or without properties, and meditate on the Formless, wich is a property of God. the drone is a prayer and a meditation, the song of the universe, and a vehicle to bring one to the feet of God.

i think a lot of western christians are missing a big part of the experience of God by denying this part in their lives. christianity is an eastern religion, and has all the properties of the religions that predate it. the meditation, the drone, is part of the experience, just sit down, shut up, and listen. God will sing for you. oh yeah, don't be afraid of the great metaphor that reveals God. as history christianity is complicated, as metaphor is beautiful, graceful and compassionate. oh no, there is a duality for you.

Who are your favorite artists to listen to?

bob dylan, yo la tengo, stereolab, miles davis, lenz\swift, stan getz, edith piaf, indian music, ali farka toure.

Do you have any advice for young musicians getting started out?

worry about songs-not gear, learn rhythm, learn to tune, listen to the beatles, get a lawyer.

Who is the songwriter you most respect?

bob dylan, the only real poet of the rock and roll era. his lyrics are as relevent now as they were in the sixties, and his current albums are masterful. if your are a touring musician  the highway 61 revisited record will make you cry. if you want to know how a rock star should act, check out the movie don't look back.

Who is the producer/engeneer you most respect?

roger moutenot, soley for the yo la tengo records, and geoff emerick, for the beatles. i have a lot of respect for a lot of the steve albini stuff, i respect his ethic about the historic affect of our trade.

When will a new Duraluxe cd see the light of day?

i have no idea, nobody seems interested in duraluxe, at all. troy and i write songs for fun, but people have stopped caring enough to give us any sort of budget to record or tour. were not that fashionable right now. we don't really have a vast catalogue of unreleased songs, maybe 40 songs we are sitting on that have not seen the light of day. some of these recordings date back 5 or 6 years, songs that didn't fit on a record. i don't know if they will ever see the light of day.

The new song, sweaty cigarette, appeared on the new GTA comp. What was the inspiration behind that song?

sweaty cigarette is a troy song. he says its about touring in a hot, smelly van.

What is the least favorite cd you have worked on?

least favorite musically or personally? there is a big difference. some of the biggest records i've worked on were nightmarish ordeals (see tpc's mercury) due to environment and personalities, some were just bad music, like swing praise2 or fanmail 2000. i worked for months on a randy stonehill kids record, with terry taylor. i love terry, but i thought this record would kill me. stonehill is a pompous, ego driven ass who has lost the ability to sense his own irrelevance. some bands have been rude, disrespectful, like sean turner from johnny q public, who ripped off the green room. i had to threaten to call his mom to get him to cough up even a little money for some new crappy project he was working on a couple years ago. people lie, a lot, in the christian market and they think they have a special deal with God who will absolve their crap because of their great art. yeah, right. just pay me and i'll do a really good job.

the green room closed because the owner, gene eugene was a partner in the studio but not the owner, didn't want to do it anymore. it was a tragic scene when i went to the funeral and the wake. people were taking tapes, threatening to sue, somebody even stole gene's guitar. people are animals when they should be saints. i went to help my friends., i got lied to a lot. the owner didn't have the spirit to do it anymore. she wanted to get her life back, and she wanted the space to mourn gene, which was hard to do when christian labels are beating down your door and threatening to take your house away because gene didn't finish a record. he didn't finish some records because he f$^&@n' died, man!

What is your working relationship with Steve Hindalong like?

i have not worked with hindalong in a few years. i think i met hindalong on the lifesavers "pop life" record, back in blonde vinyl days, 1990, i guess. I'm not sure how many records steve and i have worked on together, but it was some cool ones, joe christmas, morella's forest, at the foot of the cross, the prayer chain, and the choir stuff. i also spent a lot of time on the road with them, mostly for their "circle slide" days. they were great then. i had seen youth choir a few times, i thought the stand up drummer thing was kinda dumb, i did like the fact that derri was using two vox ac-30 amps, though. i never understood the whole electric flute thing that dan michaels played.

anyhow, what i got from steve was mostly about rhythm and how to produce vocals. his percussion playing is amazing, he's a pretty solid drummer, great fills. i don't think that i really understood timing and rhythm before i worked with steve.

being the engineer when he produced was a fairly creative environment, i could do whatever i wanted sonically. he sure didn't mind a little distortion. i think he likes the degree of mystery i leave in the recording process. i don't make things too clean.

some of the orchestral sessions i worked on with steve and derri for at the foot of the cross were fun, a full orchestra, big money, all into two microphones. when the arranger set down a stack of sheet music in front of me and said he made notes about where i should punch in, that was funny. a day like that is maybe $5000, and i can't read music. fortunately the house engineer could read.

i have a hard time thinking of many specific stories, it's been a while. i stopped working with steve when i went to athens, georgia to record the elephant-6 bands

oh yeah, when we worked on a record for a band called my little dog china, i got sent on a beer run during an ice storm. i wiped out on the ice and broke my wrist in a lot of pieces. i still went for beer. when i returned i told steve that i needed to go to a hospital. he said we would go right after he finished the vocal he was working on. well, five hours later i was still punching in vocals left handed. he drove me to the hospital, i had an operation on my wrist the next day. when i woke up the next morning i checked out of the hospital and went straight to the studio and steve had me start the mix. i kept passing out on the mixing console. steve would have to wake me up every 20 minutes or so. i still have a lot of metal in my wrist from that.

Will Caryn Colbert ever do anything musical again?

i have no idea where she is. i can't imagine her doing music. she ripped me off. she cheated. straight up. she has refused to talk to me for years. she had an affair with a well known christian music producer, then kicked me out. i find it hard to care. easy to forgive, but hard to care.

How did the extra fluffy songs come about?

i've been looking around for a copy of that. i can barely remember what songs are on it. flying tart records bought a week of studio time for me for a fluffy record. the drummer was in khazakstan, the singer was in bolivia, and the bass player was teaching high school, so i called zack from joe christmas (now summer hymns) and tess wiley. i think she still was in sixpence then. we just made stuff up in the studio, totally messing around, pulling lyrics from people magazine interviews, off of television, i remember making samples for drums off the morellas forest e-p masters. it was a fun free for all type of affair. a lot of people have asked me if it was a 4-track record, when actually is was recorded through a vintage neve console onto a studer 24 track tape machine. great gear, little concern. i sorta didn't think flying tart would put it out, but i think it ended up being pretty cool. we played cornerstone on that record. we had tess playing guitar and singing, chris simpson from mineral\gloria record playing bass and singing, and matt hammond who played with bob mould, a rock star affair! i don't think anyone in the audience knew who was on the stage. we rehearsed in the hotel that morning.

that was one of my favorite shows ever.

Can you give us some insight into the original Mercury recordings?

i've dug around my archives. i cant find much, it was a long time ago. as i recollect it was the label taking off a couple songs and adding a couple songs, or was it just adding sky high and taking off chalk, i don't know. i did some remixes after gene mixed it, but i can't recollect what songs. perhaps it's best kept a mystery. i think it's cool, yet odd that this record is still a discussion so many years later. they were a great live band, some of the most exiting shows i ever mixed were tpc shows. i don't think the cd's capture it, and the endless reunion shows don't have the danger or magic, not that i've seen many of them.

when i think about mercury, or most records i work on i remember the hang, the fun, or the fights and blow-outs,  not the work. if i worked at  burger king i would have a hard time remembering a fish sandwich i made ten years ago, nobody how much people i don't know liked it. i don't mean to diminish it at all, but it's far, far from my favorite project. i think the same crew completely out did themselves with the lassie stuff, and the cush full length is far more listenable to my ears. maybe i don't feel the angst of middle class christianity, which is where those guys are from. records have a social context. i've never felt welcomed in mainstream christian culture, and at the time tpc was the voice of the youth of that culture. i grew up poor, and i came from punk rock, i just didn't identify with the message. in the context of the world i grew up in most christian music seems trite. i don't diminish the impact it has on people who feel part of that something, but that something never hit me. i'm old enough to remember the end of the viet-nam war, relatives of mine were there, i lived in a terrible part of los angeles county growing up, food was an issue, gangs were an issue, being shot at was an issue, so somebody should explain what part of the mercury cd is really gonna have an impact on me, or better yet, on young people today who live in those conditions.  it's a white man's record, talking about white man's issues. the only christian album from that time that really had my attention would have been dig by adam again, gene was talking from my side of town, not so much from suburbia like tpc. i love those guys, they are some of my best friends, but i have never thought it to be the most challenging of their work.

Thanks so much for the interviews! Any other comments? (URL, contact info, etc.)

my contact info, fabulouschris@hotmail. i haven't a website yet. thanks a lot, i feel like i've been to a therapist, chrissy