From the English seaside to road trips Stateside

Photography by Frankie Nazardo


It’s fair to say Bournemouth shares little in common with America. A love for homogenous high streets aside, the wide expansive plains of Middle America bare no resemblance to the extremity of the Wessex Way Road. This is probably why Colours are so drawn to the mighty US. Two of the threesome recently road tripped across the massive behemoth of a country and all three of them plan to head back for another taste of the badlands.
“We are all really into the whole trash culture of America,” says Leon. “New York to LA in motels.”

“Yeah with Leon doing the driving,” laughs Jon.

It’s Lewis though who captures what they really feel about the country despite missing out before – “The thing about America is the romance of being on the road,” he says.

This passion for sweeping spaces possibly derives from the band’s need for escapism. A love/hate relationship with their hometown led to a recent move to London, a necessary change for Jon. “It’s really surprising that Bournemouth has an arts university and this huge student scene but no decent bands really play there,” he ponders.

Now settled in Stoke Newington the band are all about DIY – of the making tapes sort. Landing through our door with a thump, ‘The Burger Tape’ is a bright orange thing of brilliance. Musically assured but simultaneously brittle and broken, it’s the distilled sound of the road trip, the Mojave desert’s backing band, and it’s striking stuff from a group in its infancy. Bigger than a Big Mac and reminiscent of No Age and Abe Vigoda, this is a band whose noise is routed in the present. Recording and putting out your own material isn’t a fresh approach but rather in abundance right now and thriving. Rather refreshingly, Colours aren’t only positive about this, they actually seem genuinely excited by it. “It’s such a fun process,” grins Leon. “Me and Jon did it all and got our buddy Jason in to do the artwork – I find it all really satisfying. We don’t want to turn into those guys though who constantly pester people with our tapes and messages.”

So door-stepping the music industry can work, receiving post is always a pleasure and when burgers are involved it’s double the enjoyment. The art adorning the tape looks to be the sloppiest sandwich this writer’s ever seen and the band mention the golden arches more than a few times over several coffees. “We just eat a lot of burgers cause we drive from Bournemouth to London a lot. That involves stopping for burgers, it’s essential,” explains Leon, trying not to laugh.

Caffeine, red meat and road trips; it’s a wonder these guys haven’t crossed the Atlantic for good. Leon has already got one leg over the pond; America is his focus for a passion in photography. “I went out to the Colorado desert and lived with a community out there taking photos this March, it was amazing, I travelled around in an RV and everything, you just have to go and do these things.”

Two became three recently when Lewis joined as drummer. The ex-Help She Cant Swim man, a familiar face about town back in Bournemouth. The three congregated regularly at 60 Million Postcards both in front of and behind the bar. Leon explains there wasn’t really an alternative – it’s where everyone descended.
“We used to hang out in two different groups and kept seeing Lewis around at Postcards,” he explains. “‘It’s that guy again!'”
“I used to play basketball with someone they knew,” Lewis continues, y’know, American-ly.

Now in London, a lack of small town mentality finds its way into their scope of sound: the sonic brick wall built from scratch now sounds even bigger with someone on sticks and bass. Their homemade method of production will be familiar too. Friendly with the Paradise Vendors label set up by Male Bonding, Colours are keen to use a similar model for themselves. Playing shows with Teen Shiekhs, messaging Cheatahs and supporting San Diego’s Crocodiles have helped them ease into London life.

“There is such a great network of bands down here who support and like what each other do. It just seems now that there is a bigger network than there ever was, even over to America,” says Leon. Lewis has a more frank approach. “It’s people actually giving a fuck about the kind of music we all make,” he says. “They seem to care more.” And Jon agrees – “We all seem to be taking more initiative, getting our own records pressed and just getting on with it.”

By Ian Roebuck

Originally published in issue 11 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. October 2009

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