Smart, articulate, passionate and powerful, COLT 45 are one of the UK's finest young bands. Ahead of the release of their excellent The Tide Is Turning debut album, we spoke with frontman Neil Harper about his band's influences, aspirations and motivations.
Q. Whereas so many of your peers seem to have forged their sound with one eye on America, The Tide Is Turning is a distinctively British rock album, and all the better for it: has that been an important consideration for your band from day one?
I think in terms of influences for COLT 45 it’s a pretty even split between UK/US bands. We never sat down and thought “We want to sound British”, but I suppose there’s no getting away from the fact that we are! We try to stay true to ourselves and write music that we enjoy playing, if people want to call it “British rock” that’s cool with me. But on the other hand I do genuinely think, given the opportunity, that COLT 45 would go down well in the States.
Q. What is your personal take on the state of the nation’s rock scene at present?
To be completely honest, I don’t listen to a lot of modern rock music. There hasn’t really been an artist in the last 5 years who I felt that I could relate to, not in the same way I did when I started listening to The Smiths or iDLEWiLD or the Manic Street Preachers. Then again, it’s nice to see a band like Biffy Clyro doing so well – they’re a band who have stuck to their guns and worked hard. Sadly, I think there’s a big gap after them.
Q. Who are the bands/writers/artists who’ve most informed your sound?
The Manic Street Preachers were the first band I ever got really into. I went to see them when I was 12 and from then on, all I wanted to do was be in a band. Being a bit of a music geek I then had to read every interview they did, every book about them, bought all the records that influenced. This eventually led me to Husker Du, Bob Mould and Sugar. Another big part of my musical upbringing was Bruce Springsteen, he’s always been a big one for me. I remember being really young and listening to them with my Dad, who had every single album!
Q. In terms of geography, you’re far removed from the London music scene: has that been a help or a hindrance in your career to date?
London is a 700 mile round trip from Carlisle where we’re based, and probably further away in the music scene sense! I think it probably helps in that we don’t really get caught up in whatever’s “hot right this week”. We’re never trying to follow any scene or movement. Logistically it can be a bit of a pain sometimes with a 5-6 hour drive to London but it isn’t something I’d consider a hindrance – if anything, it probably makes us tighter as a band and friends because of all the time we spend in the van! The only bad thing about London is the bloody traffic wardens. I dream of the day we go to London and don’t get fined for some kind of traffic offence!
Q. Describe your current mind-set in just five words.
“This is the hardest question!” Haha… seriously, erm… Eagerly awaiting the album’s release.
Q. What happens next for Colt 45? Feel free to dream big…
Well, our debut album The Tide Is Turning is out on the 28th July. We’ve got a few festivals lined up – Leopalooza, Kendal Calling and Merthyr Rock – and then we’ll be touring to promote the album in September. We’re over the moon with what we’ve achieved so far with COLT 45, but I think there’s definitely a good feeling in the camp towards getting this album out to people. We did Download Festival this year and we’d love to be doing a lot more of these festivals next summer. We’ll just have to wait and see!
The Tide Is Turning is released through Visible Noise on July 28. You can pre-order it here, in an exclusive bundle including a signed copy of the album, a COLT 45 t-shirt and a copy of the band’s Coughing Up Confessions EP. If you order it from iTunes instead, you’ll receive an instant download of lead track, O.K.