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Opening for an Idol
The Graham Colton Band Plays the Bowl
by Sarah Hammill

There seems to be some disagreement as to the sound of the Graham Colton Band. Fans from the GCB Web site laud it as “rock and roll for a new generation.” But a number of critics have likened the band to the Gin Blossoms and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, bands cemented in the annals of ’90s rock. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Sure, the Graham Colton Band got its start touring with ’90s legends Counting Crows. But these days it’s joined up with Kelly Clarkson on a two-month cross-country tour to prove it has just as much modern-day pop-rock appeal as anyone else on the airwaves. Check it out for yourself Monday, September 5, at the S.B. Bowl, when it opens for Clarkson, the American Idol who’s really come into her title.

Graham, tell me about your current tour. How’s it playing with Kelly Clarkson?
Right now we are in Toledo and it’s going great. We’ve done so much touring. That’s really been the entire lifespan of our band. It’s definitely my favorite tour and the longest one we’ve ever done. We were only scheduled for the first half of Kelly’s tour, but got asked back, which is awesome.

Are you finding a different crowd out at Kelly’s shows than you’ve seen on other tours you’ve played?
Actually it’s a lot of the same people that are going to see Green Day, Maroon 5, bands like that. Our style is very different from hers, very underground and raw. But Kelly has a wide group of fans and they’ve been really accepting of our music.

Have you ever played the Bowl before?
No, we haven’t spent a whole lot of time on the West Coast. This was the first time we could realistically get there. … We’ve played everywhere, so many different types of places, but I hear great things about the Bowl.

Is there any particular band you are dying to tour with?
I’ve toured with so many of my idols already. I’d like to tour with somebody different, a band that plays a different type of music. Oasis would be cool.

You have quite a following in Dallas. Do you get a lot of your die-hard fans coming to see you on the new tour?
Well, we’ve headlined our own tour before and we’re just the opening slot on this run. At a lot of the dates on the tour, in the first 10 rows we’ll have fans supporting us. But for the most part, it’s all new people.

You’ve gotten some criticism for sounding too much like bands from the mid ’90s. Have you made a conscious effort to avoid sounding too much like some of your influences?
Yeah, we’ve been labeled as a band that should have come out in the early ’90s and we’ve toured with so many of those bands. Combine that with our album being produced by Brendan O’Brian who has worked with the Black Crowes and Train and you can see why we get that label. I just try to stay honest with myself and make the best music I can.

What’s next for you after you finish up this tour?
The tour ends in September, officially. I’m in the writing mode right now. I’m ready to make another album. We’ve got more material than last time. Before the Kelly thing we did our first headlining tour and sold out most of our venues, so hopefully with the new album we can build off of that fan base. … You experience this and you go, “What in the hell was wrong with me the first time, back when I was in a van scrounging to sell CDs to pay for pizza?” We’ve gotten a lot of help along the way and every day gets easier.