The past 18 months have been nothing short of a whirlwind for Brisbane sad-punks, Columbus. Having toured the country time and time again, the band kicked off the year inking a deal with UNFD and touring with The Ataris around the nation. With the band set to release their debut album, ‘Spring Forever’, next week and a following national headline tour, we took the time to catch up with frontman Alex Moses to gauge how the band was feeling ahead of the biggest adventure yet.
With the Olympics currently on, do you guys play sports much?
I’m probably the least sporty member of the band. Dan our drummer, he is heaps into soccer and stuff. He was a goalkeeper for quite awhile, and Ben was into basketball- well he still is into basketball. But we all like to go to our local soccer team, the Brisbane Strikers, we like to watch them play every week at the local soccer field. It’s great because you can sneak in alcohol and people don’t notice, so we sink a few beers and have a good time.
Turning over to the new album, why is the month of Spring so special to you guys?
The first time I said the title was in a conversation with a co-worker of mine, and I wrote it down as soon as I said it. I then wrote the song Spring Forever which is the last track on the album, and I really wanted the record to be called Spring Forever after I started writing a few more of the songs. A lot of the songs focus on that kind of seasonal theme, and spring for me is such a perfect time between the winter and the summer, and I guess in a metaphorical way it’s a very intense emotional state. I think Spring Forever summed up the way the album sounded. There are winter and summer songs, but spring forever exists in the middle.
A lot of your songs are processing personal events. Does re-visiting those songs through the music help to move forward from those experiences?
I really like it, to be honest. I think sometimes when we write music I do want songs to be upbeat. I think the dichotomy of an upbeat song with dark lyrics is really cool. I think that if a song means something to you, singing it onstage in front of people who know the words, it’s a great release and also a great way of getting those things out, kind of like a musical therapy. I think that no matter what people go through if they’re musical and write songs, they can cope with it because it’s kind of like an artistic release. Playing songs live makes me happy no matter how happy or sad the song is.
So I’m guessing that you write a majority of the lyrics, then?
Yeah, I handle all the lyrics. We write in a staggered process. I do all of the lyrics, melodies, and chords on acoustic guitar, and then I’ll write a song with a structure and everything before bringing that to the band. Then we’ll pick up an electric guitar and jam the songs to see what works. Sometimes I’ll write a song and have a super clear idea of how it’s gonna go, but sometimes I’m way more up in the air and I can kind of have blank spaces about sections. I generally finish the lyrics before the other band members hear the song.
Is it strange for the rest of the band to play songs that are so personal to you?
It’s kind of weird for me. I get really self-conscious about showing them songs that I have written, as they are some of my best friends. I’ve been playing music with Dan and Ben for years, but it’s creepy writing songs about things that mean a lot to you. It’s strange then showing them the song. I think though for them, and hopefully other people, they can take their own meaning from the song. Hopefully, if I’m writing about love or happiness or sadness or whatever, they can relate to the song in whatever way. Generally, they are pretty open about playing the songs I write regardless of the topic.
So has Columbus ever written tunes on the electric guitar first?
That used to happen a few years ago, but with this record, I wrote every song in my bedroom. I struggle to come up with things on the spot. I almost can’t do it around other people. I need my space and I like to be by myself. I’ll write loads of songs and a lot of them will suck, but every now and again you have this moment where, despite writing songs all week, you just pick up the guitar and strum a few chords and write the best song you’ve ever written in three minutes.
So what songs off ‘Spring Forever’ really fit that story?
There’s a few that do. Of the ones released so far, which are Raindrops and Daffodil, neither of those two songs fit that story. I wrote Raindrop over a period of time. I had the chorus and nothing else, but then the other lyrics came and I wrote the melody to it. With Daffodil, I wrote the lyrics to it over like a month, and then I wrote a melody for the chorus, and it sucked. Then I went back to the melody and just changed the notes and played it back until I had something that I liked. It took me forever, but now I’m really happy with it.
What made you stick it out with that song in particular?
I really liked the lyrics, and I knew that it would happen eventually. But every day it just wasn’t happening. Every day I thought “I’ve just gotta finish this”, and I finally got something that I was happy with. But with other songs, my favourite example being Downsides Of Being Honest off the Home Remedy EP, I wrote that in like 10 minutes. I just picked up a guitar and started playing and wrote the words and it was done. We still finish our set with that song, like it’s still pretty much our biggest song. Sometimes you get random sources of inspiration and it comes together in a few minutes, but other songs take months. In both situations, you just have to keep writing. If you write enough songs eventually you’ll have an album.
With the video for ‘Raindrop’, there was a focus on loss, particularly the loss of a young boy’s father. What made you guys want to touch on that issue?
The song is literally about love, but a love-loss theme. In the video we didn’t want to do a guy losing a girl, so instead we decided to just focus on the theme of loss, and a family member was just the next choice. Doing a happy video for the song wouldn’t really suit it, so we decided to do something that replicated love and loss. That kind of melancholy story line suited the song.
Finally, to wrap up, are there any other local bands that you wanna give a big shout out too?
‘Spring Forever’ is due out August 26th via UNFD.