An Interview with Colony House: From side job hustles to becoming full-time musicians

Colony House

Colony House’s tracks can be best described as uniquely indie-rock. With grungier, synthesized songs like “3:20” and soft ballads like “This Beautiful Life”, Colony House’s discography truly embodies the entire spectrum of the genre. Anthemic choruses and uplifting lyrics characterize the bulk of Only The Lonely, the quartet’s sophomore studio album. The Nashville-based band’s lineup includes two brothers, Caleb (vocals) and Will Chapman (drums), Scott Mills (guitar), and Parke Cottrell (bass and keys). Spearheading Nashville’s indie-rock/pop scene with bands like COIN and LANY — Colony House’s music is undeniably catchy. This catchiness has lead to mainstream success with their breakout single “Silhouettes” and a charting debut album When I Was Younger.

With songs with names like “Roll With the Punches” and “Glorious”, it isn’t hard to see that the band plays music that is uplifting: a rarity in an increasingly cynical world. It is this radical positivity that shone during my phone interview with frontman Caleb Chapman: an interview that interrupted his (probably beautiful) day in San Diego. As I was lamenting about being a senior in the midst of applying to colleges, he simply said, “take it in day by day and you’ll be alright.”

Chapman was never focused on college applications or the typical high school dilemmas regarding career choices. From childhood, he saw his father, Steven Curtis Chapman, finding success as a Christian musician. So, singing in a band wasn’t considered an avant-garde career choice.

“There’s not really a moment I can point to as “the moment” where I wanted to play music. I grew up watching my dad play music. So, since I can remember I have wanted to play guitar and sing. In middle school or high school you have to decide how you’re going to spend your summer. And somewhere in that period, I think I decided I was just going to stick with guitar. So there wasn’t an epiphany: I’ve just always wanted to play music,” the older Chapman, Caleb, explained.

In both Only the Lonely and When I Was Younger, there’s nearly always the undercurrent of family. Family is more than something to write about for the band, it is the band (or at least half of it). The dynamic between the Chapman brothers facilitated much of the band’s early work as CALEB and has birthed two studio albums.

“We have always done everything together. We are similar in age, so growing up we played on the same teams. Music for us has always been a package deal. It’s gotta be both of us. Having my brother in the band adds a safe tension because you know you can be honest and there’s no negative repercussions,” Chapman said. “You know how your sibling will respond, so you can push it (criticism) a little bit more. So I love being in a band with my brother like 98 percent of the time.”

While the band experienced a wave of success with their debut album, it was a long time in the making. “Waiting For My Time to Come” off their debut encapsulates the uncertainty that defined their early career. After Colony House would tour, Chapman still had to work a side job. Unlike most musicians, Chapman does not cite being on Late Night with Seth Meyers or Conan as the moment that defined success, but the day he was able to quit his side job.

“I think most people don’t understand that we spend 23 hours of our day for an hour of what they see. So, every day we are touring, we are driving in a van from city to city, and then we set up everything and play an hour or 30 minutes. We do all of that for that little bit of time. And we wouldn’t trade it for the world,” Chapman said.

Although they are up-and-coming, the members of Colony House are not the typical young band. They are fathers and husbands who have a different perspective than the average young musician on why and how they play music.

“Our priorities have always family first. And I think that informs the sound of our band. It also informs the purpose behind it all. There are so many people making music and it’s hard to get your voice heard,” Chapman explained. “But we’ve always felt that if we kept our head down and keep writing songs that mean something to us, they will resonate with the people it’s supposed to resonate with. We are never going to stand out just to stand out, we hope that our music means something.”

Colony House bring this authenticity to everything they do. Their unofficial mission statement seems to be spread positivity and make music they love.

Words: Sammy Park


Colony House perform tonight, Oct. 13 at the Wiltern, as well as tomorrow, Oct. 14 at the Observatory in Santa Ana. The band will be opening for Mute Math

Stay up-to-date with Colony House via their Facebook page.

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