A Hot Take on Heartbreak Tour
Bands evolve from album to album as the lives of its members, and their music tastes, continue to change. That’s particularly true in the case of Columbus, whose debut album was entitled Spring Forever, but its follow-up A Hot Take on Heartbreak has seen the Brisbane trio opting for a dramatic change of season.
“On Spring Forever we went into the studio and did exactly what we wanted,” recalls Columbus’ singer/guitarist Alex Moses of their debut. “But after touring that record and it coming time to do a new one, we realised that the music we wanted to play was distinctly different.”
“We didn’t want to be a pop punk band anymore,” elaborates Alex. “We didn’t even want to be a <<punk>> band anymore. We wanted people to know us as a rock band.”
A Hot Take on Heartbreak will certainly leave listeners in no doubt about that, or that this change has harnessed excellent, if surprising, results.
There are, says Alex, a number of reasons for this creative gearshift, including the sense of perspective that living with the songs from their debut for 18 months while on the road provided the band with.
“I realise that some bands tour records for longer,” he explains, “but when it’s your debut record, and you’ve lived with those songs for a long time before it was even released, you can quickly move on from that music, as proud as you are of it.”
That desire to move on was informed by a shift in the collective listening habits of Alex and his bandmates, bassist Ben Paynter and drummer Daniel Seymour, who traded the punk and hardcore of their formative years for the influential alt-rock of the late 90s/early 00s, including Weezer and The All-American Rejects.
“They were always there, but we just didn’t listen to them as much,” explains Alex. “They’re bands that helped shape rock music, which is what we want to do. The great thing is, our progression has felt like a really natural one because all three of us have been on the same page the whole time.”
Alex’s non-musical life has also had a role to play in his change in outlook, most notably a painful breakup he suffered “pretty bad” break up.
“The process was a little more intensive this time around,” says Alex of writing the tunes that would become A Hot Take on Heartbreak. “We wrote a lot of songs and then locked in recording dates with our producer to fit in with his availability, which mean we had a fairly aggressive deadlines when it came to writing. We knew the pressure would be good for us, even if we weren’t totally sure it would be enough time – but we made it work.”
“A couple of weeks before we were due to go in and record, we locked ourselves in a rehearsal room,” continues Alex. “It was like going into the office for three weeks. We’d get there at a set time and work on the songs for about eight hours a day. It was a pre-culling period so we had only the very best stuff for when we went into the studio with Joel.”
By Joel, he means Joel Quartermain, widely known as the drummer in western Australian rockers Eskimo Joe; and a producer with a wealth of experience across a variety of genres – with the know-how that comes with being in a band himself.
“We wanted a producer who was also a proficient songwriter so that we could work on ideas with them,” explains Alex of what Joel brought to the table. “Having him around gave us a more seasoned fourth pair of ears. He definitely challenged our ideas and got the best from us.”
“There are a few songs that are going to surprise people who are already familiar with the band,” says Alex of the results of their collective efforts. “But hopefully they’ll be positive surprises.”
First single Don’t Know Hot To Act is a prime example. The album’s positive and bouncing opening track isn’t just musically different from what’s come before, but at odds with the band’s traditionally downbeat leanings.
“We’ve taken our slightly pessimistic and melancholic outlook on love and relationships and tried to make it funnier, and more tongue in cheek lyrically,” reveals Alex. That’s further illustrated by Piece of Shit, a “curveball” that finds Alex self-deprecatingly deeming himself, ‘<<A waste of space; a fucking delinquent>>’.
“We’ve learned that we don’t have to be serious all the time,” explains Alex, “though the new record still has some of the seriousness we had before.”
These include Care At All, which tells the story of someone actively ruining a relationship because of their behaviour, with lyrics that shift between the person inflicting the damage, and the person on the receiving end; the aforementioned Difficult Conversations, penned by Alex producer Joel, and enriched by the addition of piano, about how a lack of communication can bring about the breakdown of a relationship; and Cut It Out, musically the heaviest track on the album.
“We’re at the point now where the band has done a lot of really cool things,” says Alex, citing tours with You Me At Six and Real Friends as highlights. “We had big dreams on the first record, but it ended up being a bit of a reality check. It’s not like you release one record and become the biggest band in the world – it takes a few years. The You Me At Six tour showed us to play big rooms, with a band that’s transcended their scene to become a big act in their own right. That’s what we want.”
In broadening their style, and with it, their horizons, Columbus are on their way to making that dream a reality, with an album that provides a fresh take on musically catchy, lyrically interesting rock. Grab it while it’s hot!
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