Hands up who loves watching nature films/series/documentaries? Anyone? No one? Nope The Lion King doesn’t count! Nor do Cats And Dogs, Homeward Bound, Napoleon, The Secret Life Of Pets, Beethoven, Zootopia, Marmaduke, Ice Age or Ferdinand! No, I’m talking about real in-the-wild behind the scenes nature documentaries like Richard Morecroft Goes Wild, or anything from David Attenborough such as Blue Planet or the Life series. I guess other nature films include Wild Australasia or Wild Asia and anything else in that series. My point is that regardless if you love watching them or not (and believe me, I have seen a few episodes of a number of nature shows in my life, and some have resonated with me and some haven’t…); there are indeed a few things that animals themselves can teach us humans about life. Especially in this period of isolation and quarantine due to COVID-19. Not to say that animals are smarter in every way than humans… but there’s been a few times where I’ve seen something in a nature show- like how a number of species of animals gather their food or look for shelter or travel and migrate south or north for the winter, or fight other animals for territory or how they raise their young; and I think to myself. I think to myself ‘Gee, creation is so complex, could it be possible that God made it that way so that humans not only can learn off other humans but off animals too?’. Now I’m not completely bonkers, so don’t write me off or send me to an asylum… hear me out for a bit. Sometimes us humans let our emotions take the best of us, and instead of thinking things through methodically and systematically with calmness and no panic, we go right ahead and do the opposite. Often this leads to disaster and unforeseen calamity which could have been avoided had we sat for a little bit and thought about the course of action best needed to be taken. So what if we took a page out of our four legged and winged pets and friends? Is there something to learn from man’s best friend?
A few of the things I’ve learnt from animals over the years (and by no means am I an expert on this) is that they’re very resourceful. Almost all wild animals live outside, and I’d imagine that their home every night differs. Perhaps they all have a general area called home, but I’m willing to bet that depending on whether there’s food or water about, or even if there are predators about; determines where an animals sleeps that night. The worries are usually few- ranging from what food to eat, where to sleep, and how to take care of the children. The stresses of the day are usually running away from predators. And that’s it. In general, animals are thick skinned, and though I don’t really understand them sometimes, I’m willing to bet that each species of animals have their own secret language, and I reckon they’re not offended by much, nor do any of them seem to be easily gullible. And from what I’ve seen from David Attenborough’s shows, is that animals are pretty adaptable. There’s a storm, they run away and hide. There’s a hurricane or a fire, again some animals run away and hide, but others quickly and skilfully create a fire resistant or storm resistant ‘house’ of some sort. There’s a predator about, and some animals camouflage and become invisible. There’s a lot of tricks that animals use to survive in the wild, to survive some of the harshest conditions on the planet, and some of the most unforgiving weather elements. So all in all, in some ways I admire animals for their tenacity and durability. Never mind that it’s a dog eat dog and a cat eat cat world out there. Because animals adapt. Can the same be said for humans? I’d like to think so, I want to be hopeful, but with this pandemic around creating a new normal, we are seeing some of us adapt, and others not so much.
We could all learn a lot from animals. Whether in our jobs or our social life or our interactions with our family- guaranteed at least one conversation right now would be online for the foreseeable or even the far future. Can any of us cope in the long term? Would there be mental/psychological implications for staying inside cooped up and being physically alone for a long period of time? I’m not saying that we all should go out into the community and become super spreaders of this virus and infect everyone- not that would be very irresponsible. There will be a time and a place later on in this year or next year for each of us to resume our version of normal pre-pandemic, and do it safely; but right now our duty and our responsibility is to ourselves and those around us more vulnerable. Staying inside is hard, but I believe right now that globally it is the right thing to do. Which brings me to my next point. People generally have been struggling to adapt with ease to a wide variety of situations that formed a new normal for a long time now- 9/11, The Bali Bombings, The Iraq War, The Global Financial Crisis, the arrival of streaming giants like Netflix, Amazon, Stan, Hulu, Disney + and Apple TV, and just generally the explosion of YouTube as a means of communication on the internet. Sure some of us have evolved with the times and have seamlessly transitioned into this ‘brave new world’ without a care in the world; but for others it is hard. Some of us have coasted through this virus with a sense of peace. Because they’re all homebodies anyway and quarantining at home isn’t that big of a stretch and an ask for them. They’re introverts. Other people like outgoing people are struggling badly. So much so that they’re willing to break the rules and risk other people’s well-being for a short stint at their own fleeting happiness. You’d tell them to pull their head in and take one for the team and to think of the greater good and to think of their elders. But short of forcing someone to take this virus seriously, and short of forcing them to ‘adapt or die’… what else is there to do? Well let me tell you, there is an artist who has faced their own share of heartache, trouble, calamity and despair. And they haven’t wavered. Sure, they’ve changed course a few times, and they have adapted. But they’re still here and if they haven’t come through the other side yet, then they’re definitely in the process. Colony House, the four piece alternative rock band, who have released their third album in January this year, are a band that you definitely need to listen to this year. They’re a band who can teach you about adaptability and who can teach you about being resilient in the tough times, and about sometimes changing your plans depending on the situation. Colony House are definitely not popular at all by all accounts (take a look at their short Wikipedia page!), but I have found recently that artists who aren’t popular are sometimes the artists whom we need to listen to at that moment in time, to gain another perspective as we each grow as people and further along in our knowledge and wisdom. Colony House is one of those artists.
If Colony House rings a bell, that’s because you might have heard of frontman Caleb Chapman and his brother (and drummer of the band) Will. Sons to CCM pioneer and legend Steven Curtis Chapman, the Chapman brothers founded Colony House in 2009. Originally named Caleb, the indie/alternative rock band was a far cry from the Christian music scene that Steven Curtis was immersed in. I’m sure that many die-hard fans of Steven would’ve been saying that his sons were selling their soul to the devil by founding a mainstream rock band. However Caleb, Will, and friends Scott Mills and Parke Cottrell have forged ahead, creating their own rock sound as a band while at the same time still borrowing lyrical and musical elements from Christian music, so as to market their music to a wider range of people from different walks of life. It is only recently that I have started listening to Colony House (prior to last year, I did believe that the only edifying music out there was overt Christian music), yet I have quickly made up for lost time and found their discography to be very, very solid. Songs of love, loss, the meaning of life and everything in between has been discussed at one point or another on any one of Colony House’s three full length albums. The subject matter of many of their songs are quite heavy- would probably wouldn’t find Colony House having much facebook fans or youtube subscriptions or twitter followers or monthly spotify streams. But they are very much needed in an industry where you see more and more vapid pop stars emerge with a bouncy hook, and nothing much more left to say.
Colony House have had plenty of life experiences under their belt, and in each of the three albums, and especially in this year’s Leave What’s Lost Behind, there are indeed moments of sheer brilliance and utter greatness. Why is everyone still sleeping on them? I don’t know, but let me tell you that this 2020 album is one of my favourites of the year and a must listen for everyone. So are Only The Lonely and When I Was Younger. Period. But if you want to know more about how these guys came to be, I need to take you back to the beginning. And by the beginning I mean what I think was the beginning. I mean sure, Caleb and Will indeed came from a musical family. Steven’s prowess as a singer/songwriter, entertainer and an influential artist cannot be denied (you can read about our blog about him here!), and Will and Caleb would naturally want to follow in their father’s footsteps. Below is an excerpt of Caleb explaining how the band came about. But for me I reckon that there was an event that was so instrumental in the band that occurred prior to the band’s inception. I don’t know if I’m skating on thin ice here by bringing up something that might be irrelevant… but to me Colony House was born in 2008 (one year prior to what it says on Wikipedia), simple because that was when the Chapman’s younger sister Maria passed away.
My brother Will and I are half of Colony House. That was a natural, literally a natural, meeting. We come from a very musical family. My grandpa still works in a music shop in the town that my dad was born and raised in in Kentucky. My dad is a singer-songwriter and has had an amazing career. He’s made like, 20 albums and is still going after it. We always knew we were going to join the family business and pursue music. We met our guitarist Scott through our cousin who introduced Scott to us as, “This is Scott. He plays guitar. If you ever need a guitar player, he is your guy.” Will and I asked if he wanted to play with us and he went and bought some gear.
We had been playing for a few years as a threesome before we found our bassist Parke. He played as our opening act a few times. He was doing his solo thing and didn’t play the bass. But, we really liked him so we asked if he wanted to play with us. He borrowed a friend’s bass and came to Atlanta to play with us. We always said that the only way we’d bring in a fourth member was if they made us better. Parke made us better. He could play bass, he was a great singer and he was really cool to hang out with.
To the general public we’re a newer face, but we’ve been doing this for seven years now [this interview was done in 2017 when the second album released]. I’m glad that people didn’t hear us seven years ago though. We thought we wanted to blow up and be heard but I think there was a divine protection around us because we were not ready to be heard yet. We played so many shows and realized what worked outside of the comfort of our homes.
Why am I dredging up the past and bringing Maria’s death to the fore when it may have nothing to do with Colony House’s inception? I mean, it had more of an impact on Steven, right? Cause of his next couple of studio albums (Beauty Will Rise, This Glorious Unfolding)? Well, maybe because I reckon that in my opinion, hard hitting events like a death in a close-knit family impacts everyone. In many different ways. Some people are vocal about the death, and others more reserved and quiet. Did it affect one person more than the other? Maybe, but it definitely didn’t not impact someone. That’s just literally impossible. So with Maria’s death endured by Steven Curtis Chapman and his family (inclusive of Will and Caleb), this is a true store for the ages, and a true testimony of God’s faithfulness. In 2008, the Chapmans endured their worst year ever, when Will was backing into the driveway of their home, and accidentally killed youngest daughter Maria. The family was a wreck after that, Steven almost quit music all together, and the family questioned whether God was good. And of course they had to do all of that (and in the spotlight no less!), they had to grieve, ask questions, go through that entire process. When you’re in the pit like that, it’s no good if someone yells out ‘Jesus is with you, so get up and you’ll be fine’. Sure you will be fine after a while, and that sentiment may be true, but it’s not something you want to hear right now, and those words will probably do more harm than good. When you are feeling rotten, just like Steven was back in 2008 and probably still will now 12 years later, and into the future; the best thing for someone else to do is to sit with you, cry with you, and just be there. Which is what most of the faith community, and most of the world, regardless of faith, did for Steven and his family. They rallied around him, they didn’t ask questions, they just let him be. And when the 2009 album Beauty Will Rise released with most of the music sounding very similar, and the lyrics very emotional and the melodies quite sombre; no one complained, no one lectured- they just let Steven be and heal from this ordeal.
Now, many more years later, Steven’s relationship with Jesus is as strong as ever, and while no one can fully heal from a death as profound as that, we can now understand the purpose in the pain. The meaning behind Steven’s suffering. And it’s for us to realise how much we need Jesus in our lives. And how dead we all would be without Jesus, but how grateful we all should be because of Him. Though I know suffering isn’t of God, it is still used by Him, in order to show us how much we should rely on Him. And who knows, had Maria not died, then Steven’s trajectory of his music would be different, and would Colony House still form? The fact that Caleb and Will still joined with two other guys and made music from 2009 onwards, still joined up as a band and started to write and sing music and make sense of the world that way, even after Will may have blamed himself for his sister’s death- well that definitely describes resilience, tenacity, durability and adaptability. Something we all need in our lives- and we can see it in Colony House before these guys even play a note! Would Colony House’s music sound quite as heavy topically and lyrically or maybe even not weighty at all if Maria was still alive? No one really knows, but a listen through these heartfelt and poignant three albums, and you get the sense that Caleb, Will and co. are storytellers in their own right, with or without tragedy fuelling their songs. They’ve got something to say, and in this music business, they’re one of the bands that are saying it loud, and saying it well.
In 2014, 5 years after these guys formed, the debut album When I Was Younger dropped; and apart from initially sounding like a general indie rock group; Caleb and co delivered poignant melodies about the human condition, and subtly alluded to issues like God and spirituality. Lead single “Silhouettes” is a hard-hitting mid tempo rocker- similar to something Lifehouse or Nickelback would record- but it is the lyrics that hit home for me. As Caleb eloquently relays to us the notion that we’ll only see our silhouettes until the lights come on; the allegory here is that as we are gling through life and as we are dwelling about our past, we’re only going to see the mistakes and we’re never going to forgive ourselves or reconcile with our past until we acknowledge that our faults are even there at all. We can only do that with the light on. And that bit of extrapolation that I gleaned from listening to this first song is only the tip of the iceberg. Most of Colony House’s songs are like this – double and triple meanings – and that’s the beauty of tracks like this. That its open to interpretation and that everyone from all walks of life can enter into the conversation and into a healthy discussion also.
The rest of the debut album really intrigued me and surprised me in a good way, as I find that the band’s rawness working in their favour- they’re not conforming to a certain way, and their speaking about what is on their heart. They’re adapting to this ever changing way of how all of us listen to music- not sure if they’re successful by a standard metric system… but at least Colony House is one of the bands leading the way for music experimentation. The grandiose for KING & COUNTRY like “Second Guessing Games” packs a punch musically, and lyrically declares that we all need to ‘…go where I wanna go, to get where I need to be, do what I gotta do, to say what I need to say, fight for the things I love, let go of the things I don’t, but let’s stop playing second guessing games…’, reminding us all that we need to be certain about what we want to do in our life and just take that leap of faith into the unknown; while “Keep On Keeping On” is as inspirational as they come- with Caleb taking a page out of Needtobreathe’s “Brother”, and inspiring us to stay in the good fight of life and keep on keeping on, even ‘…when the devil’s arm seems strong…’. It’s songs like these that I can marvel in wonder at, particularly when they’ve come from their debut, as they’re lyrically quite rich! And especially in “Waiting For My Time To Come” also, which was inspired due to the band’s big break in Austin City Limits Music Festival being cancelled because of weather issues; we see Caleb and co. being mature and writing a song about the many thoughts in their head asking them ‘are we going to make it or is this a sign that it’s all going to be over and that we’re not supposed to do this?’ Well I don’t really see much of that level of introspection and reflectiveness on a debut album. For a rock band to churn out lyrics this deep… Colony House are something else and a mystery even now, but definitely in a crazy good way! With Colony House also delivering to us songs about God and grace and love in “Learning How To Love”; about guilt and forgiveness in “Won’t Give Up”, specifically about the loss of Maria; and about celebration and the power of redemption in “Moving Forward”, the spiritual sequel to “Won’t Give Up”; we see a group of 4 friends who are secure in their identity and know who they are as people- not caring about popularity, it is this debut that shows us that Caleb, Will, Scott and Parke have a mission that they are unwavering in- to make music to make us think, no matter if it is catchy or not! Case in point is the album closer, the musically lullaby-ish and dreary “Lose Control”, where we find lyrical genius as Caleb subtly sings about giving up control to Jesus and letting Him make our life more beautiful.
I usually bring the skeleton of a song to the guys and at that point it’s a Caleb Chapman song. Then, everyone puts the skin and guts into it to make it a Colony House song… but really, as far as inspiration goes, about 90 percent of the songs I write are from personal experiences. Either something I’ve experienced directly, or I’ve observed a friend go through something. There’s a certain loneliness that comes with doing something you love while leaving the people you love behind. Or coming back home and missing the thing that makes you feel alive.
I did a lot of research while creating this album [Only The Lonely]. I found connections with people like Van Gogh. I’m paraphrasing here but a quote of his that resonated with me a lot during the making of this album is, “A great fire burns within me, but no one stops to warm them at it and passers-by only see a wisp of smoke.” He changed the game but had no idea he was changing the game. He was heartbroken by the thought that nobody recognized his passion and art. Now people swarm by the millions to lay their eyes on his work.
Fast-forward three years, and in 2017 we hear Only The Lonely, which is similar in the music and themes to When I Was Younger, yet more refined and mature, if that makes sense? Lead single “You Know It” is a 60’s themed pop number akin to The Beatles musically, as Caleb reiterates that the band will be back before ‘you know it’, in which he is reassuring their fans after a 3 year wait that they’re back with new music, and that he’s also reassuring his loved ones back at home that they’ll be back at home from touring before ‘you know it’. It’s a clever song in that there are multiple meanings- and that’s one of the reasons why Colony House resonates with me so much! The band also delve into the issues of loneliness and isolation (the slow rocker “Lonely”), conflict and disagreement (the frenetic “You And I”) and questioning the meaning and the purpose of life (the acoustic driven “This Beautiful Life”) as the remaining three singles of this album… and it’s a shame that these songs in general aren’t publicised, and that the band isn’t publicised. Their craft is crazily good, so why not give them some attention, particularly when such inspiring and poignant lyrics are food for your soul?
And it’s not just the singles on Only The Lonely that are hard-hitting. The slow burn guitar led mid-tempo ballad “Where Your Father’s Been” is an ode from Caleb to his young son, while the track could also double up as a set of guidelines, or a letter, or even a piece of advice from God our Heavenly Father to each and all of us. As Caleb exquisitely proclaims encouragement to our souls, reminding us to ‘…breathe deep every new day and let the sun rise, let the light stay, for the rain will never stop if you’re chasing every drop, no, you don’t have to go alone, this is where your father’s been and where you’re gonna go…’, there’s a sense of experience and wisdom that he’s speaking from- and it’s hard not to be emotional when you hear this song, because isn’t what Caleb is singing about what we want for our own kids? “Follow Me Down”, a rocker with serious Coldplay and U2 vibes, is essentially a prayer from Caleb and the band to God, asking Him to follow us wherever we go and to never ever let us drown; while the poignant and inspiring “Remembered For” is similar to “Only Jesus” from Casting Crowns and “Legacy” from Nichole Nordeman- as the band ask God to help them know that their legacy isn’t to make sales, but to make a difference bigger themselves with regards to their music and changing lives that way. As Caleb sings out ‘…this is what I wanna be remembered for, everything else – you can set it on fire, I wanna still be standing when it falls apart, I wanna be a shoulder for the broken heart, it’s what I wanna be remembered for…’, there’s an atmosphere of surety and confidence in his craft, mission and vision- and that is part of what makes the measure of a great band. These guys aren’t popular- I’ve said it here before. But I’d rather Colony House continue to be underground and make good music to make us think, than on top of the world and churning out nothing songs like “One Thing Right” and “Old Town Road”. With Only The Lonely also giving us a glimpse of the madness of everyday life and the mundane with “1, 2, 3, 4”, there definitely isn’t any sophomore slump here!
…it started out as a blatant concept album about this runaway and this porter at a train station having a conversation. A kind of wandering nomad who’s down on his luck, and this like, train porter who is kind of low man on the totem pole in his line of work, but is a well respected man. I had these two characters having this unassuming conversation … this really important conversation that happens in this man’s life, you know, redirects everything … There’s some family history there that kind of informed it. I kinda took it and ran with this narrative. I really want to leave it up to the listener to fill in the blanks and figure out what songs are tied to the narrative, what songs aren’t…
With this year being the release of Colony House’s third album Leave What’s Lost Behind; the band continue to explore their humanity and the role God plays in their life. But this time they go deeper. As far as music goes, there’s less rock and more introspection, yet this is their most lyrically mature effort- and that’s saying something, because the first two albums were and are still pretty good. Actually more than good, they’re nearly perfect. So how do you build upon perfection? Simple. Just increase the level of the ceiling of perfection! With Leave What’s Lost Behind having some metaphors and some allegories, given that Caleb and the band decided that the overall structure to the album would be a conversation between a homeless person and a train worker; even without figuring out which songs were literal and which were metaphors, there’s still heaps of lyrical genius on this project!
Opening the track list is the grandiose orchestral for KING & COUNTRY-like anthem “Looking For Some Light”. Lyrically the song is simple in nature, but it’s got that big soundtrack movie atmosphere. Theoretically simple lyrics with such a big production do not often mix, but Colony House makes it work. With Caleb fervently relaying to us that everyone around us is looking for some light, implying that we’re all chasing after something to make us feel better about ourselves, we’re all chasing after purpose and meaning and the reason as to why we’re all here on Earth; Caleb also reiterates that everyone that he sees when he looks around are also ‘…wild and the wonderful mysteries, masterpieces I will never know…’. When you’re seeing someone, you’re more than likely only seeing a moment or a snapshot- unless you’re friends in which you could extrapolate viewpoints based on knowledge of that said friendship. Thus what Caleb is conveying to us here is that everyone around us has their own story too. We’re likely never going to know them, however acknowledging that we’re all here at the end of the day to find the parts of life that make the most sense to us, that we’re all in this race called life together, that we’re all just looking for light- well that makes us less alone and makes it more bearable to not just survive, but thrive in the presence of Jesus.
The rest of the album is just as compelling, gut-wrenching and thought-provoking as “Looking For Some Light”. The Switchfoot-like title track has Caleb giving off some serious Jon Foreman vibes vocally, as we are encouraged to place our faith and our beliefs in whatever we choose to at least on a solid foundation that won’t ever fade away. Reminding me of the parable of the house on the rock and the house on the sand, Caleb and co. encourage us to have roots down deep and to seek a foundation that ‘…is something real that you can believe in…’– pieces of advice that we all can and should follow if we want to leave everything that we have lost behind and instead go searching for what is left to find out there in the horizon (which is probably where God is wanting us to go). “Original Material”, as pop/rock as can be, is similar in theme to Royal Tailor’s “Original”, and dives deep into the concept of individuality and uniqueness and wanting to go the other way as opposed to the most common way. Also reminding me of the story of Pilgrim’s Progress with the wide road v the narrow road, Caleb challenges us to go against the grain of common or normal. Instead we should strive for greatness and being the best us that we can be. And as Caleb eloquently cries out that ‘…I don’t want to just fit in with the rest of them, I’ve got too much on my mind to be wasting any time, pretending to fit in with the rest of them, I’d rather be original material…’ against some groovy dance beats… what more could you want? A great song to move to as well as a timeless message!
Full on rock tune “El Capitan” channels The Beatles vocally, as Caleb ardently relays to us that even though we’re all unwell and sick as a human race, there’s still some things we would do that’s above and beyond the norm- and that is for the people that we love; while one of the most thought provoking songs on Leave What’s Lost Behind is “Why Even Try?”, a confronting revealing set of questions, whereby the persona asks out loud why he even bothers with this life and why he even tries. And with the song being a four minute progression of someone who wants to go life alone but then ultimately surrenders to the Creator of the Universe, we are witnessing here something special in the making and definitely one of the most comforting and confronting songs of 2020. Just listen to the last minute of this song and tell me that that’s not genius and that’s not greatness. You can’t? Yep, that’s right! Cause Colony House have stumbled upon a God moment here! Let’s just be thankful that we as the listeners are here to witness such a heavenly work of art!
The r&b finger clicking slower tempo “Where I’m From” strips the tempo back and has Caleb appreciating his roots and his heritage as a Chapman. Ultimately the song ends with Caleb appreciating his roots as a Christian and looking forward to the day when he’ll be in heaven and reuniting with sister Maria- and it is this track that I reckon is one of the most vulnerable and emotional on the album. Complete with a pulsating electric guitar solo and with Caleb at the top of his game vocally, we are met with a band that is content with their past, yet also yearning to look deeper into the future, and finding out more about who they are as people, as believers and as a band in the process. “Julia” is probably the band’s most honest and emotional song they’ve done- as Caleb earnestly sings a love song and a song about his devotion to his wife Julia- there’s a Beach Boys/Eagles/Beatles vibe to this track- and though it’s hard to get into this song, as I’m not much of a Beatles’ fan (I’m going to hide in the corner now, for fear of ostracization… just kidding!), the more and more listens I give this track, the more palatable and inspiring the song becomes.
“Trying” a verseless, chorusless somewhat monotonous slew of words, is all the more poignant and thought-provoking and challenging when we realise that Caleb is directing this whole song to God, letting Him know that we’re trying to do life on our own but we’re failing , so we need His help. It’s an ingenious way to structure a song, and it sure gets my attention; so kudos to the band for trying something different. The album then ends with the compelling “The Hope Inside”- and seriously I could write a whole another 2-3 pages on this song alone. The lyrics are so rich, and with Will’s wife Jillian Edwards featuring on guest vocals, there’s just a sense of hopefulness and purpose on this song. Just take a read of Genius and the different lyrics of each of the choruses. And read the lyrics when you listen to the song. When you experience the song in these glorious and marvellous 4 minute like I have- then you understand why these guys are the real deal! In my opinion, “The Hope Inside” is on the same level as “This Beautiful Life”, “Won’t Give Up”, “Moving Forward” and “Where Your Father’s Been” as the pinnacle of perfection for the band- and if you don’t believe me, then listen again and hear God moving in these moments of 100% perfection!
…the common thread truth being everybody’s looking for some light and this idea, this kind of the imagery that I had in my mind; is that as I was writing, that chorus [of Looking For Some Light] was like, standing in a dark room and not knowing where the entrance is or where a window is…Like you have no reference for where you’re at. And then someone turns the hallway light on and you see the bottom of the door illuminate, you know, and it’s like, ‘Oh, I have directions now.’ That’s kinda the imagery of the chorus that I want. Like this idea that we’re all in this room where our perspective and everything is constantly changing and we don’t really have a reference for where we’re going and we’re all looking for that little bit of light to just give us a direction and help.
And I think that that is universal. So that’s what I meant by that. And as far as it continuing to show up through the album, I’ve always loved lyrics kind of repeating themselves in different songs. And so there’s definitely the idea of looking, even verbatim, looking for some light, and it’s kind of woven throughout the album. And this is not me getting myself off the hook, but I kinda like it being an Easter egg hunt. Like ‘oh, this is what he’s talking about.’ And it’s in songs that you wouldn’t expect. It’s not all serious. The idea of looking for some light is even in the songs that you wouldn’t expect.
I definitely want that final lyric I quoted earlier to be a takeaway in theme…where like this idea that when you hit rock bottom, that’s not the end, that’s often the beginning of a new season and that there’s hope there. And sometimes we only see it when it’s the only thing we have left to see. So that would be a huge takeaway for me. I also want people to be stoked that we’re continuing to push ourselves and [trying to get] outside of our creative comfort zone and do things that some people [may ask] ‘why’d you do that?’ And some people might be like, ‘thank you for doing that.’ We’re trying to grow as artists and as people…and we’ll see. That’s kind of what I hope people see in all of this.
Colony House are a band with intent. They’re not a band just coasting on spotify streams or on the youtube views of one hit song. Many bands are like this. But Colony House have had to forge hard and work for their songs, probably more than any other band that I can think of. I guess it’d be easy for Caleb and Will to live off Steven’s income and let him pull some strings in the industry. But the beauty of stepping out on your own and adapting to the big world, is that when you’ve made it (not in popularity, but in actually changing someone’s life!), then there’s that sense of satisfaction and just happiness that can’t be replicated anywhere else. Call it God’ providence, or His blessing or His peace, but whatever it is- Colony House have it. And they’ve had to adapt many, many, many more times, as COVID-19 has placed a wrench in touring plans of almost all musicians. And to this effect, “When The Walls Come Crashing Down” was born. And because Caleb can articulate probably better than I can, let me throw it over to him to explain the band’s thought processes in how they were feeling when everything was shutting down, and how this song came into being.
I think what we started really locking onto with this album and even these few shows that we were able to play this year is who we are and what we’re supposed to communicate and just dialing in the DNA of the band. We’ve always said we want to be a conversational band. 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.
So I think it’s just tuning our ears in. This season is like tuning into those conversations and being like, “All right. Well, where are we going next? If it’s not going to be in person, how are we going to take this conversation forward?” It’s just new territory.
Everything we write about is observational and personal. It’s the journal, entries of our souls and the thoughts that we’re having in regard to what we’re seeing. Like our new song [“When the Walls Come Crashing Down” featuring Jon Foreman and Jillian Edwards], we thought was written about the world shutting down and a pandemic happening. The observation there was, who would have thought that I could walk by a stranger and been like, “How are you doing?”, and they know exactly what I’m referring to. That’s a weird phenomenon that has never happened. There’s a weird connection that all of a sudden you have with everyone else in the whole world.
Now the lyric of this song has changed over the last week or two in regards to the Black Lives Matter movement. That is not a new movement at all, but I think it’s finally being given an appropriate spotlight. And that’s what I love about music and lyrics. This song was written long before these protests and now, it takes on this whole new meaning. There’s a lyric about holding the match while covered in ashes. And this idea that so often we’re looking around us at what the problem is. Why are there fires raging around us? And then you look down and you’re like, “Oh, I’m the one holding the match. I started this fire.”
So the lyrics take on a new meaning. So many times, artists are coming from it as like, “Here’s my solution.” 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?” I think if we’re humble in how we approach communicating with people, there will be more profound things than we could even plan on writing. And that’s what excites me.
At the start of the year, I am positive that we all had plans, dreams, wishes, hopes and those pesky New Year’s resolutions that we sometimes push to the backburner. Fast forward to now… and everything is now put on the backburner- unfortunate to say. COVID-19 is a virus that doesn’t discriminate, that afflicts the young and the old, the weak and the strong, the healthy and the sick. You could be asymptomatic for a very long time and still pass the virus onto others who may be more vulnerable and fragile than yourself. Which is why we all are in quarantine around the world. If we’re not, we should be. Now during this harrowing and uncertain time, what is there to do? Movies are postponed. Some music albums have been postponed. Live events like concerts and sporting games? Postponed (concerts) and still happening but without fans (some sporting games). But even when everything seems to be bleak and in total despair, a little light breaks through. There may not be as much music at the ready right now than pre-COVID-19; however now we have an opportunity. To dive deep into the music of yesteryear, or even the music of last year; to see whether there are some pearls of wisdom and some lyrical and musical gold goodness that we’ve been bypassing for whatever reason. I’ve been doing that recently during my freer time, and it is in my own opinion that there is no other album to inspire, to comfort, to encourage, to provide hope to us in this time, than Colony House’s January album- their third project Leave What’s Lost Behind, produced by Ben Shive. In fact given that lyrically, these guys are so, so confronting yet comforting in their songs, now’s the time to listen to their whole discography!
Is Colony House being passed the baton of rock music from Switchfoot? Just like how Rascal Flatts have seemingly passed the baton of inspirational country onto Hunter Hayes, and how Sheryl Crow has passed the baton of country/folk/rock onto Canadian singer/songwriter Lindsay Ell (in which we’ll be writing about her influence in the coming weeks!); the evidence for a Switchfoot – Colony House transaction is very strong. In fact it seems like it from the other two albums too! For me there’s no fault with Leave What’s Lost Behind just like there’s no fault with Only The Lonely and with When I Was Younger. The fact that these guys have recorded the albums via three different labels is remarkable also… and proof that their adaptability to change needs to be examined by us to see if we can learn something from them for our ability to adapt during this pandemic. If the music industry is “The Animal Kingdom”, then Colony House is the “animal” we need to be learning from first. As we are glimpsed into one of the finest storytelling pieces of just pure art- that will live on and on and on in the hearts of many, it’s very certain that things will go up and up and up for Colony House. If you’re not a fan of Colony House by the end of this exquisite listening experience of Leave What’s Lost Behind, then start listening again. And again and again and again. For extra good measure, spin their previous two albums, then listen to this one again! Will, Caleb, Scott and Parke have created something special here, and something to be proud of. So jump on the band wagon, everyone… I think I’ve convinced you all enough! Though Colony House have delivered three albums of pure rock genius, as well as touring with other artists such as Needtobreathe, Switchfoot, Tyson Motsenbocker, Deep Sea Diver and Knox Hamilton to name a few; it seems that other than release these three albums there’s hardly much other ‘extra-curricular’ activities that Colony House has been involved in. Which is a shame, because their social media presence and their spotify streams and their youtube views aren’t that high either. Is it because people are still sleeping on this revolutionary band? I’d say yes they still are, to which I say ‘get up and listen to probably one of the most thought provoking bands today!’. Thus now… when I say that Colony House is influential, or a future influential band, I mean that they’re influential from their songs and their songs alone. And nothing else. Lyrically, this is like Andrew Peterson level kind of stuff… so I guess that’s enough of me rambling. It’s time for you to listen to the music, don’t you think, so that you can make up your own mind? And you know how I mentioned earlier that we can learn a lot from animals? Sure that’s fine and all… but I reckon before we do that we can try to learn from Colony House, of how to ask the big questions without being intrusive, and how to appreciate life with all of its struggles, joys and mysteries. And as I end this blog by quoting a passage on suffering which I wrote about a couple of years ago inspired by Steven’s daughter’s death; let me ask you this. When there is a change in your situation or an unfortunate circumstance that you can’t control, what do you do? Run and hide? or weather the storm knowing that you’ll grow in character and as a person as a result? You know, God doesn’t like the storms as much as we do. But He’s there with us, moulding and shaping us to be more resilient and more like Him. Want to emulate Colony House and their ethos as a band? Look to Jesus and emulate Him first!
I’ve seen people in our café and around the shopping centre, whinging and whining about this and that, feeling angry and down because of circumstances beyond their control, which they define as ‘suffering’ to them. It’s somewhat of a first world problem, and these nitpicks from all kinds of people remind me that we are a blaming bunch. I feel down, I feel sad, I feel made, I feel angry, I feel useless, life is hopeless, people are mean, and it’s not my fault. And once we shift the blame off of ourselves, guess where we heap it onto? Yep, onto Jesus. The big man in the sky. The one upstairs who we feel is like The Grinch or Scrooge or The Joker, always loving the fact that He can play tricks on us. We think ‘oh, God did this to me, if He was good, he’d take away the suffering!’. And while our emotions are valid, the reasoning behind why we think there is suffering is a bit skewed.
I reckon all we need to do, in order to gain a bit of understanding of suffering and the fact that God loathes it as much as us, or maybe even more so; is to just look at the Bible, and the various instances across history in which God has swiftly rid the world of ‘suffering’ at a certain point in time. We can also have a look at how God delivered the world of ‘suffering’ using plenty of biblical ‘heroes’, all the while these people are going through trials and tribulations- their version of ‘suffering’ as well. Think about it, just for a sec.
Pharaoh was oppressing the Hebrews, so God sent Moses to deliver them, through 12 plagues sent to Egypt of immense proportions, but not before Moses has to endure his own type of suffering of being labelled as a murderer, and labelled as tongue tied and unable to speak. Joseph dreamt of his brothers bowing down to him, then he had to endure them trying to kill him, leaving him for dead at the bottom of a well; but later on he was rescued by the Pharaoh and his daughter, eventually rising up the ranks to second in command of all of Egypt, interpreting dreams for many important and prominent people. Jonah was called to preach to the people of Ninevah (a place where the reputation wasn’t that great!) and Jonah went the other way. He was swallowed up by a whale, endured hell on earth literally, then when he grew and learnt his lesson, he faced his fear and turned Ninevah around for the better. While Daniel interpreted dreams for the King back in Babylon, however with the change of government, other important people threw him into a den of lions, but God protected him, and when the King got him out, Daniel testified of God’s goodness, as the lion didn’t hurt Daniel at all, but behaved like a big pet cat. And of course, THE ultimate way God rid the world of all suffering- when Jesus came to earth as a baby, lived his life preaching that He was the Messiah, then the pharisees plotting against Him, Jesus ultimately being crucified…but then rising again three days later fulfilling the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and all of the other prophets from way before. See the pattern?
Almost every time out of an unfortunate circumstance, comes good. It’s in the Bible countless times, but let me spell it out. While people sometimes blame God for their suffering, in reality, that isn’t the case. God uses the bad and the good ultimately for our good and His glory, to build our character and to help us grow as people and as Christians so that we can rely on Him more. Even though we can’t see it or believe it, God has a perfect plan way beyond our understanding and comprehension. Though these are words of ‘comfort’ and can inspire us to see beyond the here and now, most times though, we as humans, as sinful, prideful beings, can have the message of God being all knowing and all powerful, lost in translation.
There is a misconception about God that because suffering exists, He doesn’t love us. But as I have given examples from the Bible, suffering I believe, is needed for us to grow and learn more than we ever would without it. Sure, prior to Adam and Eve eating the apple from Satan, suffering wasn’t in the vocabulary of anyone, nor in any dictionary, because it didn’t exist. Everything was perfect, and in an ideal world, suffering isn’t ideal. But as is the world we live in now, just because Jesus has saved us doesn’t mean we will be free from suffering. Because we are Christians walking in the world, you could say suffering will follow us around like a parasite. It’s the measure of whether we are resilient enough, and reliant on God, so as to determine how much we grow from suffering. The outcome of suffering may or may not be able to be avoided- God can step in anytime He wants to- but more often than not, any suffering we endure reminds us of the fact that we need a Saviour so much, and gives us hope and peace that we know, or we can know, that Saviour personally… however suffering will continue to be debated in the many years to come- and maybe I have added fuel to the fire, I don’t know. But I do hope and pray that after you’ve read this, that you can understand that we live in a broken world, so suffering will just happen. It’s how we deal with the aftermath that matters, and what matters is relying on God. So let us do that, with every aspect of our lives.
Does Colony House make the list for you all when you write your own ‘Influential Artists of the next 5-10 years’ list? Is there any song (other than “The Hope Inside”, “When The Walls Come Crashing Down”, “This Beautiful Life”, “Waiting For My Time To Come”, and “Original Material”) that has impacted you on your journey through life thus far, or even your walk with God? Let us know in the comments. Till next time!