Colossus (fronted by John Clay) are one of the many South London bands that are fronted by a singer who is a POC but often are overlooked for groups that fit an antiquated idea of a ‘rock band’. They have recently attracted the attention of Nice Swan Records (English Teacher) on Instagram and are cultivating interest due to their collective mindset (the core members being John Clay and Rob Homewood enlist a revolving lineup of musicians from a number of South London bands for their frenetic live performances).
S] Hey, how are you doing today?
R] Can’t talk. editing the music video.
J] Sorting admin for the premiere of a film I’m working on, as well as figuring out tracks for our next release. In that regard it’s tough curating songs that work as a follow-on from ‘The Gods Hate Colossus’ when there are so many paths we have to choose from.
S] How do you define success as an artist?
R] I need to finish editing this music video.
J] Creating something that simultaneously challenged me upon its inception and makes me have to self improve on execution.
S] What’s motivating you outside of music – think specific people, and places?
R] I just need to finish editing this bloody music video.
J] An awareness that the perspective of rock music is drenched in a lot of male privilege. It’s astounding how many lyrics are essentially about men telling women how to live. Literature by Bell Hooks and Koa Beck are pretty useful in helping to recondition this whole lyric generator between these ears here, y’know?
S] How has the band’s mission statement changed and developed over time?
J] We’re more interested in working with different lineups every chance we get. Being confined to the same line-up live leads to stagnation. Every gig for the last year has been a process of essentially forming a new band once or on a few occasions twice a month.
S] I love your imagery, and the live show looks…intense, how much weight do you put into that visual side of the band?
R] Lots.. hence the video..
J] We used to wear superhero tops but have moved away from that since red pill culture via Zack Snyder’s DC film run claimed and warped all that into something else. People often rightly assume the worst from that past aesthetic. We have other concerns now which lie beyond the infantilisation of global culture.
Video and visual history aside, we have a few film ideas that we shoot up on a projector if a venue has one, so there’s that—lightning and huge lettering and such.
Clothing isn’t something we put too much energy into now. My main focus is to find excuses or rather creating opportunities to get into the crowd and dance. I saw Leonina from Genn dance and let the music tell her what to do at their recent Rough Trade album signing gig.
It’s great to see another frontperson take us on a journey like that. There’s a way of celebrating the space and the transformation of others’ relationship to the area that I didn’t consider back when I played guitar live. That damn instrument is a thing I kept hiding behind. A wall. A barrier that stopped me really taking any risks.
S] Colossus been a thing for a long while since the late 90s if I read correctly, and you’ve reformed – with that in mind, do you think much about the legacy of the band?
R] Why did I think I could cut this whole video in one night?
J] I think we have so much music which never got out there. We’re less perfectionist now on levels that currate the space better. I don’t think we get to claim a legacy until we release more material.
Excited about creating music that is subservient to us getting a lot of material out there. ‘Making it’ can be counter to that. Reading the first few pages of John Nivens’ Kill Your Friends had a deep impact on my understanding of the industry. It’s a guidebook on just how insane it all is. Check it out and be free!
S] What does Colossus mean to you now, on an emotional level?
R] It means a lot to us.
J] The band is a way to celebrate the work of my best friend and me rendering something from nothing.
S] If you could come up with a Frankenstein’s monster for the band’s sound – the head of Bowie, the arms of Spacehog…for example, what would it be and why?
R] Frankenstein is a good word.. you’ll see when the video is finished…
J] I only use band references as a shorthand for mags and personnel recruitment. I sound like a job centre! Ultimately I’m not happy doing that.
There’s cultures and that word again – dialogue which gets cancelled out when you think about your music that way. If you’ve been around for long enough it sounds reductionist to what you’ve created. We’re committed to an aggressive blues form that has moments of calm as yet unexplored fully in public and on record.
S] Is there anything else you’d like to add before we finish?
R] Yes, if I don’t make it to the end of this edit, tell my wife I lov…
J] Make sure to check out our socials for music video news dropping on the 20th October. Camille of A Void directed us and the results are gonna surprise a few people.
S] Thanks for your time!
For more on Colossus visit: https://linktr.ee/thebandcolossus
Image: Andras Paul