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Take Five with Awesome Color

Submitted by RamonLP4 on October 14, 2008 – 2:01 amNo Comment
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Remember that scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey where the ape approaches the monolith, grabs a jawbone, then proceeds to mercilessly slaughter the rival tribe of apes? If you can imagine being on the receiving end of the jawbone, that is pretty much what I got when I saw Awesome Color last year. The band just played with a cro-mag fury that left you stunned and helpless. Derek Stanton’s guitar played with a chaotic fury while bassist Michael Troutman held down a heavy-ass raga in the dirty muddy lowlands and drummer Allison Busch pounded her kit with a precise assault that was as powerful as it was frightening. That and they were fucking loud and could hold down some of the most deadly grooves you could imagine! They were less a rock band than a tsunami. They seemed not mere mortals but a force of nature.

This week this force of nature returns for a fourth visit to the space city where, tonight at the Mink, you can experience it for yourself. Thankfully, the mini-van driving/skateboarding power-up trio whose new album Electric Aborigines is out now on Ecstatic Peace were kind to agree to play five questions with us.

1) First lets talk about tone. Last I saw you guys, Derek had this three combo amp set-up with the most insane “Ron Asheton would weeping it’s so good” tone I’d ever heard. How did you come up with that set-up and can you discuss the importance of tone in Rock?

Derek: I use a small 15 watt Gibson amp. No pedals. That’s how I like it. The small amps break up easier and get more sustain, depending on the amp, at low volumes. Also I can fit it into a mini van. I also use a small Vox practice amp and hold it close to my pick ups for crazy feedback and use it like a pick. I haven’t seen anyone else do this in the same manner. Ron Asheton uses a Marshall stack and a wah wah, we sound nothing alike*. but it’s important to have a tone you like; it makes you play better. I might switch it up to a louder bigger amp one day, but at the moment we cannot afford to drive anything bigger than a mini van.

2) Volume! You guys are fucking loud . I mean reeeeeally fucking loud. I mean like really really fucking loud. What’s your freaking problem?

We are not a loud band in practice. Our equipment is small but sounds nasty. Hopefully the sound guys keep turning it up, until we can afford those Marshall stacks.

3 & 4) Allison is a fucking amazing drummer she just holds this tight backbeat and just never lets up and she beats the shit out of her poor kit to the point where it almost upstages the rest of the band. She’s not pulling any fancy polyrythms or anything like that but she plugs away with an uncompromising Charlie Watts precision…well if Watts was a gorilla. What did your drums ever do to you? Can you talk about the merits of “simple” drumming that emphasizes feel over flashy technique?

Allison: I don’t really think about it. It’s more fun to play hard and fast. I just try to play along with Derek & Michael and get a killer rhythm going.

5) Your songs tend to focus on the Chimp Rock by which I mean primal knuckle-scraping music that circumvents the rational and logical side of your brain and jumps straight to that caveman gray matter. Can you elaborate on music connecting straight on this abstracted emotional level that is of-the-moment as opposed to say Rush?

Michael: Focusing on knuckle-dragging seems like an oxymoron. That said, I’m a big fan of Kudgel, the original Chimp-rockers. Playing music to FEEL good is also what we’re about

Bonus ZZ Top Question) Billy Gibbons used to come to a bookstore where I worked on occasion to buy African Art books. He gave me a ZZ Top Key Chain and explained to me the origin. What is the ZZ TOP design based on?

AC: Reminds us of lightning bolts.**

Awesome Color perform Tuesday October 14th with Paris Falls, Guitars, and Bobby DJ @ The Mink. That’s tonight!!!

Credits:
Photography by Stefano Giovannini (
Link)

Links:
Awesome Color on Myspace (Link)
Awesome Color (Link)
Ecstatic Peace (Link)

*Just to clarify, my question was never intended to suggest any comparison in tone. I was just saying Asheton would break down and cry like a girl from the goodness of the tone. That being said, I do think that there is a Stooges Funhouse quality to the playing. Not so much in a particular tone and definitely not in composition but I’m talking more that unrelenting T.V. Eye kind of energy from a riff that never lets up. I love when someone pulls that shit off. One thing though I never realized until now was the fact that I’ve been misspelling Ron Asheton’s name as Ashton since high school. Nutters!

**Answer: Awesome Color are actually close. According to Gibbons, it was based on Shango the Yorùbá god of thunder and lightening. Congratulations Awesome Color we’ll call that a win.

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