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Coming back to a second home: Graham Colton returns

Filed Under: Interviews, National Folks by Clair McLafferty — Comments Off

March 12, 2011

Graham Colton has toured with many contemporary superstars since his appearance on the music scene in 2002. His newest album drops April 5. He is stoked to be playing WorkPlay on March 19th, as he considers Birmingham a second home. Tickets are $12, and are available at or by calling (205) 879-4733.

Clair McLafferty for Birmingham Box Set: Your earliest break came in the Texas music scene. Since then, you’ve worked and toured with artists ranging from the Counting Crows to John Mayer to Sheryl Crow. How has working with this diverse set of talents impacted the sound of your music?

Graham Colton: That’s actually how I define my music. I wear a lot of my influences on my sleeve. I was very lucky early on to go on tour with so many of these great artists, it just so happened that a lot of the ones who took me under their wing were my heroes. Better Than Ezra, Counting Crows, they take me back to when I was 16, getting my license, and popping in a CD on the drive back to school from the courthouse. Six years later, I’m touring with them. There’s no way I couldn’t be influenced by their sound.

BBS: Since the release of your last full length album, you’ve recorded six EPs. What’ve you been doing in your time outside of the studio?

GC: Well, honestly most of my time’s been spent in the studio. I’ve learned that through the way I’ve recorded previous songs. I will write over 100 songs for one album. You’ll write one song pushing you in one direction, another takes you in another. That’s what I think makes the album possible. I try to see what fits. There’s a lot of time spent travelling and writing and then some songs get about 95 percent of the way there and then just don’t make it. I tour a lot, and have been fortunate enough to still have people still come out to shows between albums.

BBS: I heard that your next CD has been recorded and will be released on April 5th. What have you done differently for this album?

GC: Well, the big difference is that this is the first album I will release independently. It’s more of a common trend now, with artists realizing they can make and release albums themselves. There’s a lot more visibility than there used to be even five years ago with social media. It was sorta scary and also very liberating to have complete artistic control.

When I was with Universal, I genuinely made two albums that I 100% wanted to make. In this environment, there’s a lot of behind the scenes stuff that makes it difficult to be independent or creative. They want you to do stuff that has worked for them in the past.

This time around, it was a lot of sleeping on couches and using airline miles. My producers worked out of the back of a house in L.A. We had the guitar amps in closets. I think you hear that in the album, in a good way. We worked incredibly hard on it, and there’s an honesty there. I’m very proud of that, and I feel really myself in the album, which is the main goal. It took a while to make it, and I’ve continued to tour around and perform, but there’s nothing like preparing for a big album release. It only comes around every once in a while.

BBS: What’s on your iPod?

GC: There’s a lot of stuff on my ipod. Brandon Flower’s new—well, kind of new—album, I’m really into that. Always Tom Petty. Always. For some reason, especially when I’m making an album, I listen to a lot of talk radio, a lot of sports radio. Mainly ESPN podcasts and college football stuff.

BBS: You’d said you were looking forward to playing in Birmingham. What’s special about our city?

GC: Birmingham is so special to me. It’s really a home away from home. WRAX played a song from my first album, took a chance on me. Birmingham, as you know, has a really unique music scene and community. For some reason I was lucky enough to have a song that the program director took a chance on. Radio has a very small audience. Scott Register [Reg] gave me a call, said “Hey man, your song’s taking off here!” The only response I had was “What?!” He said, “Yeah, people really like it.” It was the first time I got that kind of break.

I also love Dreamland. I try to go every time I’m in town. It’s definitely one of those cities that is really really special to me, and I don’t say that lightly.