Q&A with Colony House

"It’s a lot easier to not take it so seriously when you're out there with your friends"
Colony House

Colony House is an American indie rock band from Franklin, TN. Caleb Chapman, the frontman, talks about growing up in a musical family, the band’s origin story and grief.

PEER: How did Colony House come together?

CALEB: Me and my brother (Will Chapman) have been playing music together since we could walk and then after high school, when we really wanted like give it a go, we met our guitarist Scottie at my little sister’s birthday party because my little sister was turning five. And so, Scottie was riding along with my cousin, and my cousin’s like, “Hey, I have to go to my cousin’s birthday party. So, that’s how we met Scott and my cousin is a loud, obnoxious, funny dude who likes embarrassing people and so to embarrass Scott, he said, “Hey, I know you guys are starting a band, you should get Scott to play guitar.”

We met Park, who is our bass player. He opened for our band. He was doing a solo project and we just hit it off and became friends, and asked if he would fill in on the bass guitar. Ah at some point, he filled in and he was so good that we decided to make it permanent.

PEER: When did all of this happen?

CALEB: That took place in 2010 and we started playing under the name. It was just kind of me, Caleb, and at first, it was a solo project then became a band so we just called it, “Caleb” and then that got confusing, so we were like when we put out our first album, we changed it to Colony House so that was 2014, and then Park joined in 2017.

PEER: So, your dad a big name in the contemporary Christian music world. How would you say your family influenced the growth of Colony House?

CALEB: The obvious is that there was always music in the house, and we were watching my Dad. That was what me and Will wanted to do since we can remember because my dad was such an  influential figure in that industry and it was what we wanted to do. So, besides just the inspiration of watching Dad do what he did and do it well.

My family’s just super supportive of all their kids. There’s a lot of us. And so, when we decided to pick up the guitars and the drums and join the family business, there was only cheerleading as we kind of walked into that. Obviously, my dad being who he is, paved the road for some business partners, like, “oh you should work with my manager. You should work with my label. You should work with my…” And as we started down that path, it became clear to me and Will to do something a little different than what Dad did and so we just kind of took our music in a different direction. And he, along with my mom and everyone else, they’ve been nothing but supportive and stoked. So, it’s been fun to kind of blaze our own trail in more of the alt-rock space but to also have an amazing resource like my dad and mom who’ve been in the industry and have operated at a high enough level of integrity where it’s opened up doors for me and my brother that we would be foolish not to acknowledge.

PEER: Who are your musical influences?

CALEB: Well, obviously Dad, because he taught us pretty much everything we know? It’s so funny. You know, you can go back to the high school days, and we were all into emo and hardcore anything that was pushing the boundaries, you know? But then as we started our band, there was a ton of like smaller British rock bands that we really got into.

There’s this band called Athlete; I don’t think it’s a band anymore; then this band called the Box Rebellion. We’re into contemporaries of like Keen or Coldplay. And then being Tennessee boys, Kings of Leon was a huge influence. It goes everywhere like the influence I typically like are more singer-songwriters with my influences starting back with Johnny Cash and Waylan and Highwayman up until now like finding those like Tom Waits and Randy Newman. Then Will is big into hip-hop. He loves Kanye so much.

So, it goes all over the place; Park and Scott are everywhere from Foo Fighters to John Mayer. I think we just like everything—we’re not very picky. We’re not very picky and there’s there is truly something special about all types of music that we have.

PEER: What excites you about being in the music industry and performing in 2022?

CALEB: It’s exciting in the way that like going on a road trip that you haven’t fully planned out is where you’re like. We’re gonna go to the Grand Canyon. This is an analogy, I’m speaking in parables right now, we’re going to go here, here and here, everything in between—who knows what’s going to happen? That’s kind of what it feels like to be a touring band in 2022 where it’s like well, we’ll put out some music and hopefully we can go play shows but who knows these days?

We just ended a tour in the fall (fall of 2021) that was our first tour since the pandemic. By some miracle, we played all 45 shows and none of them got canceled. No one got COVID on our tour, as far as we know, and no one and none of the shows got shut down because of it. So, like that was epic to be able to remember and to get back into the swing of like oh yeah, this is how we built this band—going to and playing shows. We’ve never had a like big smash hit or anything, but we’ve played a lot of concerts and have that personal interaction with people who have listened to our music that’s been what has fueled the band.

What’s exciting is you know it feels like we’re figuring out as much as on any given day. It goes backwards but it feels like we’re figuring out like okay, we can do this. We can go back into a room full of people and play these concerts and reconnect. I think everyone is hungry to be in the same room with people to sing these songs together. That’s kind of the point, you know, when we’re writing these songs is‚ it’s not just for us but it’s to start a conversation with our listeners and an important part of that conversation is being in front of them to like have that connection. So, I’m excited about what that looks like.

Colony House

PEER: Your reach has grown in the past decade. How do you balance the spotlight and going out on tour with staying grounded and authentic and rooted in that authenticity?

CALEB: Yeah, being in a band helps because you’re in a band. I guess not all bands have this but like, we really love each other. We’re friends on and off stage. So like it’s … it’s a lot easier to not take it so seriously when you’re out there with your friends and on any given night, something funny happens, something unexpected happens, something embarrassing happens, and as opposed to wearing that all yourself, you have people to laugh about it, cry about things with or fight with and it’s like—well we’re figuring this out together.

I think that keeps you I think that keeps you grounded.  We’ve never wanted—I don’t think we’ve maybe ever wanted it—but I don’t think we’ve never had that celebrity. There’s no celebrity really with Colony House. And that’s important to us. Someone asked me like what do you want it to feel like when you’re at a Colony House show? And well, I want people to feel like they’re getting something special. They deserve a show they like, and I want to build that anticipation of like you know the lights go down and it’s exciting. But I also want it to feel like “oh they’re just like us” because we are, you know? So, it’s important that we’re trying to just always knock down the wall of performer and audience. We have practiced a lot of this but that’s just one side of this—the other side of the Colony House is making sure you know where we’re just like you. We don’t have it figured out.

PEER: I know your family have spoken and written so openly about the subject of grief, specifically with your sister when she passed. So even years later, how do you continue to process that grief?

CALEB: Yeah, yeah, it’s been such a heavy season and I think it’s safe to say everyone has lost someone. I don’t know if it’s how close that person is but like everyone knows that kind of that loss and I think grief is an interesting thing because it really brings people together which sounds super cliché, but I think when you’re grieving, you get a glimpse into that eternal like what’s happening eternally—like there’s got to be more than just this life. There’s got to be more to this like what is this for. And those big questions that feel unanswered most of the time and maybe remain unanswered, I think that grief is the big question marked in all of it. Why did this happen? Why did something so horrible happen to our family? Why did something so horrible happen to our whole world?

And I think for me, part of the process is learning that it’s okay to not be able to answer that question. I think there’s a there’s unity and there’s something universal about being okay in that tension of not knowing why we are hurting like this.

As far as specifically to my family and our story, it’s something I think when you know for people that might be watching us that don’t know this was a while ago now over 10 years ago when my sister passed away from the accident. She was five at the time and it was you know was just heartbreaking time in the family. There’s no rulebook or guideline on how-to walk-through grief like you try your best with counseling and all that. But everybody has their own story, and we were public about it about walking that out and letting people know that there’s hope here even though this is a devastating time. This is hope in and what we believe and I think now 10 years later,  I’m okay with not talking so openly about it, like I think for a while it was on display for the world. We did Larry King Live, People Magazine interviews and things like this; I don’t think it was wrong to do that. But that that was a really devastating time to have to go out and plant our flag saying that we don’t have the answers, but we have hope that we will see our sister and our daughter again and I still believe that is true. But I’m also okay, more okay with not having to say it’s all going be okay because it’s any given day. It doesn’t feel like that on any given day 10 years later; it still hurts and there’s still tears and still. There are big questions.

So, I would say for those you know for any of y’all who may be walking through that like why did this happen? Why is this happening? Why is my mom sick? Why did my dad sick? Why did my grandpa die from this pandemic or whatever it is? I think it like it’s okay to feel confused and don’t let that be the hang up.

I think that when you walk through grief, the best analogy I’ve been able to think of is like it feels like you’re looking at an abstract painting. Too close and you’re face to face with this painting and because it just happened and you’re in the middle of it. But as you get further and further away from it—you back up you back up, and it all starts coming in the focus, then you’re like, “oh I have to stand 20 feet away from that painting to see that it’s a huge painting.” But now I can see the whole picture and it makes sense. I think the further we get away from grief, little pieces fall into place. Not the whole thing, but the little pieces here and there start going like, “oh there’s something more happening here.” There’s something bigger to this story.

PEER: What is the biggest piece of advice you can share with Gen Z?

CALEB: Well, who am I—I’m a millennial? You don’t want to hear from me. I think I’m a millennial. No, I’m kidding; Gen Z, I’ve got sisters, I’ve got some Gen Z sisters.

I love how you mentioned like how real Gen Z is. They call it how they see it. I think as opposed to me and offering a new perspective like don’t lose that—be real.

I think there’s a social movement in the younger generation that they’re seeing things and they are calling it out—for like, real equality in in our world and I think all that gets all jumbled up in the kind of political mess. I think that that’s all the noise that you can cancel out. But, hey there are some things we need to fix and I think Gen Z, with how savvy they are on social media and all those things, how clever it is like as much as that can be a total waste of time, it also could be a really amazing tool.

My advice is at this point, there is wisdom in people that have lived longer than you.

I’m learning that sometimes, be a good steward of your relationships, like be a good steward of your relationship with your grandma who you think is out of her mind and who says things that are wildly inappropriate and so often we go, “Well, it’s just a different generation.” You know, not the greatest excuse for being racist or for being for being you know, like super legalistic or something. There’s no excuse for that. However, don’t throw the baby out with bathwater; there’s wisdom in the people that have been here longer.

We are in an age where everyone has a platform, and everyone feels like they have to share their opinion. Everyone feels like they must make noise in order to be heard because there is so much noise and I would encourage Gen Z that you don’t have to make noise to be heard. You don’t necessarily have to be the squeakiest wheel to get the grease as they say. I think that there’s so much more power in listening and that is where everything’s upside down right now. You know everyone has these powerful tools in their hands called cellphones and we think that we are masters at whatever we have an opinion on, and the truth is we have so much to learn from each other on all sides. There are things to learn from each other and I would just say I would encourage Gen Z to be leaders in listening as opposed to leaders in speaking. Because my generation and the generations ahead of us I think have been pretty good at megaphoning their opinions and that I would love to see that change.

PEER: Does Colony House have anything exciting in the works?

CALEB: There are some things that are happening later this year. That will be a big step for this band which I’m excited for; I can’t really say much but what I can say is we have been writing and we’re about to start recording our next album. We’re just going and recording our next album; 2022 is going to the be new album year for Colony House.

Colony House

PEER: What’s a self-care habit when you’re feeling overwhelmed?

CALEB: Running. I run and I don’t take anything; I don’t listen to music I don’t have a Fitbit on my wrist. Just put on shoes. You just run and I make my best decisions. I think after I run, I feel clear, and I talk to God. And without even having to talk to God, I’m just listening.

PEER: What are you currently listening to?

CALEB: I’ve been listening to a lot of my own music right now for new ideas because we’re in writing mode. There’s a band called Wilderrado that I’ve been listening to a lot. I’ve been listening to this girl named Sierra Ferrell and she’s like this old Western country and she’s almost like old Dolly Parton; she’s really cool. I’m always listening to Vampire Weekend, looks like I’ve been listening to The Strokes. Yeah, I’m all over the place. There’s a kid out of Nashville called Briston Maroney who’s been doing great. He’s been just crushing it and I love his stuff.

PEER: What’s your favorite Bible verse?

CALEB: My typical go to is 1 John 4:8. Like the piece of that that I’ve always resonated with is, “whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8, NIV). I’ve always loved that definition of God.

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