The lads from ColourVision are a bit of a mixed bunch, to say the least. Having caught them performing a show at The Exeter a few months ago, I remember not being able to assign a musical label to the band. Psychedelic with an edge of vintage rock? Brit-pop fused with some synths? I couldn’t figure it out, but enjoying it, I invited two of the band’s members to have a chat about it, to see if it wasn’t just me.
“Nobody can!” exclaims bass player Jose Maucho, who sits opposite me with the band’s lead singer, Michael Pietrafesa.
“We had difficulties.” Pietrafesa admits. “I mean, in the last year and a half, the style has changed ridiculously. When we first started, we sounded like a Pink Floyd/Powderfinger cross, but now that’s totally changed.”
The five-piece who, under original band name Centurion, have been playing venues about town for the past year or so, have undergone an evolution which has extended past their change of name. Their story of how they got together is a prime example of the lessons the band learned from the onset.
“Oh, it’s a good story.” Pietrafesa begins. “Dave [Zammit], the guitarist, met this bloke at The Ed Castle one night…he was a bit of a nutcase. He goes ‘We should jam’, so Dave got me, because he and the other guy played guitar, to come along and I did a bit of singing. This guy then found Joe [Maucho], and it turned out that the guy was arrogant and difficult to work with. So we flicked him off and took over the band. Everyone came from different backgrounds and we all ended up together. ”
Maucho is much more open about the negative vibe this musician brought to the band.
“We had the practices at my house originally and they all rocked up and this guy was the biggest wanker of all time. Now though, to be honest, we have our tiffs, but the way we talk, it’s like we’ve known each other since our high school days.”
Now that the guys have worked out their dynamic for the better, it’s all been about finding and crafting their creative vision as both musicians and live performers. When you’ve got five musicians, each with different tastes and input, composing music and lyrics is always going to be an interesting period.
“Everyone has had a crack at some stage,” says Pietrafesa. “At the end of the day, we try to reduce the amount of music we were creating and tried to collaborate a bit more. Now, Joe and Rhys [Overall] are the main composers and the arranging gets done as collaboration.”
“When we jam, it sometimes pisses me off when spend like, two months on the same song.” Maucho admits. “The way I do it, I’ll have a song and try to have the vocals ready, so everyone has something to do. I feel bad when we’re at practice and I’ve got the bass and guitar ready, but I don’t know what the singer’s doing! Somehow, it works.”
Their experience as live performers is still growing, as the band is more than willing to admit. At the same time though, both Maucho and Pietrafesa don’t really see ColourVision as the sort of band to become reliant on any sort outrageous stage presence.
“I think crowd interaction is our weakest point,” Maucho begins. “When we rehearse, we rehearse like motherfuckers. We’re just jamming together to get it really tight; we’ll play the same riffs until it drives us nuts. I think that’s why we’re relying more on lighting; we thought, ‘Fuck what everyone else thinks’. We’re just having fun. You look at bands like Tame Impala and Kasabian, they don’t need to do a hell of a lot onstage.”
“Our music’s not overly energetic,” Pietrafesa adds. “So it’s not like we can jump around or anything like that.”
When asked how it’s been, forging the band’s name on the local circuit, both guys admit that it was hard at first to book shows and get decent correspondence happening with some venues, but now, they’ve established some great relationships with venues about the place.
“When we started off, it was difficult to get shows.” Pietrafesa reveals. “As it’s gone on, we’ve gotten some really good relationships with some venues. I mean, these guys [The Exeter] are fantastic and The Grace Emily is really good. There is the opportunity out there, but you’ve really got to find it.”
It’s at this moment where Pietrafesa and Maucho’s point is proven, as Dan Crannitch, Exeter bartender/front man of fellow Adelaide band Leader Cheetah, offers them a gig in for early November.
“Him and the people and The Grace are the nicest.” Maucho says, turning back to me. “At the end of the day, it’s like The Grace and here value the music just a bit over the money, you know?”
Money and competition seems to be a main issue plaguing a lot of young and new bands at the moment, and these guys admit that being a part of such a small circuit, as is Adelaide’s, has brought some issues.
“I think there’s a good culture [in Melbourne, Sydney], where band’s try to help each other,” Maucho says. “Whereas here, I have to admit, some bands are real pricks to each other. I guess that’s because you’re fighting for either this place, The Grace or The Ed – everybody’s really trying to dog each other for it.”
Pietrafesa agrees. “Adelaide doesn’t have a lot of variety. When it comes to recording and stuff, you’ve only got a handful of studios and a lot of the guys end up recording in the same studios with the same sound techs. If you want to find a sound that’s unique, you’ve got to travel interstate to find it because there’s a lot more out there.”
Having just finished their demo and with plans to do shows interstate next year, I get the impression that ColourVision have high hopes not only for themselves, but in the idea the Adelaide can have their turn in churning out some great and long-lasting acts.
“At the end of the day, you don’t see many Adelaide bands breaking out into the Australian scene at all.” Pietrafesa says. “Someone’s got to start the revolution, someone’s got to run it, you know?”
I’m keeping an eye out, in any case.
Check out ColourVision’s SoundCloud Page here:
*Photo credit: Dave Bradley 2011*