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Hey Colossus

Rarely has a band been more appropriately-named than Hey Colossus. Only formed in the summer of 2003, they’ve concocted an utterly crushing sound for themselves based on Black Sabbath, Part Chimp, grindcore and what sounds like a truckload of distortion pedals falling down a cliff onto a mountain of anvils, just to see how much noise it’ll make. All of which sounds like a thoroughly pleasant way to spend time, if you ask us.

Bob – guitar, singing
Ian – guitar, keyboard, singing
James – guitar, singing
Joe – bass
Tim – drums

Who we talked to: Ian and James
Location: London
Formed: July 2003

What do you think you sound like, and how different is that from what other people have said about you?

Ian: SLUDGE ROCK. We’re going for the point where Black Sabbath’s good period meets Black Flag’s good period (so the first six Sabs records and Black Flag’s first four years), with a load of other stuff thrown in – we like Oneida, Kyuss, Can, Neu! and psychedelia. Mike Diver at drownedinsound seems to have got it right – he said our record was like somebody cracking your head open with a wrench and screwing your brain. Other comparisons include Motorhead, Isis, Unsane, Melvins, Earth, Sunn0)) – all good things for us to hear.

James: I think it’s a collision between hardcore, ‘stoner’ and more atmospheric post-noodling, but with an emphasis on the low end, and heavy.

What great new bands are there in your locality, or that you’ve played with, that you’d urge the curious music fan to check out?

Ian: Lords (from Nottingham/Derby) are amazing – it’s Phil and Chris from Wolves! of Greece and Elvis from Twinkie (both of which are great bands as well). They play Beefheart/ ZZ Top boogie and all their songs are about nobbing – GENIUS. We’re doing a split single with them where we covered ‘The Money Will Roll Right In’ by Fang, so look out for that. Trencher, Cove and Charlottefield are all on the same label, JFR. We played with them at RoTa and all are good. Charlottefield (from Brighton/ Hastings) are especially storming. Other good folks we’ve played with have been Among The Missing (London grinding metal), Headquarters from Tunbridge Wells, who play kind of jazzy skronk noisecore stuff and are well young, and Woe from Southend, who have been around for a while but are still great.

James: I enjoyed Yeast (the band that is), who we played with, but that’s probably ‘cos I was in them (ha ha!) – also Woe and Charlottefield.

Do you feel much affiliation with any community with regards to the music that you make?

Ian: I like playing with DIY bands: whatever the kind of music they’re playing, there’s usually a commonality and a sense that you all at least know why you’re playing some pub’s back room. This is as opposed to some bands, even ostensibly punk/ hardcore bands, who are so up their own asses that they can’t believe they aren’t doing the LA2 or whatever. There are plenty of great bands/collectives all over the UK that I love playing with/ for and I identify that as ‘the scene’ if you like, not bands that sound vaguely similar or look like one another – cf. all of these duff stadium rock ’emo’ bands that have cropped up lately. WEAK.

James: I’ve sort of come from the hardcore scene (as in the people prepared to play/watch in any old toilet), so I feel fairly attached to it. Despite the bitching and snobbery, it’s pretty great!

Collectively, you’re in other bands too, right? Is Hey Colossus just a side project, or if not, how do you prioritise between it and your other bands?

Ian: Not really – Stanton went the way of all things when Chris the drummer headed for Oz, which was a shame as they were on top of their game last year and doing great stuff. Red Ashes/ Yeast, Jim’s band, has kind of split too, as the singer is off to New Zealand. Tim isn’t doing anything else either. So it’s just me with Econoline. Both V’ [Valentina, Econoline’s drummer] and I are in two bands – it’s not like either of them are touring with fucking Pearl Jam in the Far East at the moment, so we just go with whoever booked the show first gets me for the evening. It’s not like there’s a lot of competition for my time: two nights a week never killed anyone!

James: It’s now my main thang, and I’m loving it, but I do have a secret side project that doesn’t really exist, involving the drummer from Primal Scream and the guy who produced Painkiller by Judas Priest!

Where did you get your band name from? Do you like it?

Ian: It took us a while to decide what we were going to be called – I wanted Blind Joe Death, and I think there were a bunch of other ones floating around, but in the end it kind of wrote itself. ‘Hey’ because we were surprised that we could actually pull this shit together that fast. and ‘Colossus’ ‘cos of the size of the noise we were making

James: I was into the idea of ‘Colossus’ because it was pretentious and yet somehow apt and majestic, but the ‘Hey’ takes the possibly self-important edge off it: ‘Hey, how’s it going? Come and sit down, we’re going to BATTER YOU!’

Which is your favourite of your own tracks?

Ian: I think ‘Witch’ is our favourite. It was the first riff we tried out: it’s actually a Chris Summerlin donation from a band me, him and Kev Smith (Reynolds) were trying to get together, but boy it’s a good riff. Also, we play it for fucking ages and it becomes mantra-like. Nice.

James: ‘A Witch Is Born’ has become a thing of outsized beauty. It has been designed to provide exactly enough time to roll a ‘jazz cigarette’, smoke it, and fully appreciate the last few minutes of undulating feedback!

What would you be willing to sacrifice for success in your band?

Ian: Nothing, I don’t want success

James: Most things, but I won’t do ‘that’. Mind you, success to me is just being able to keep playing and making records that I think are great.

What does your family think of your music?

Ian and James: They think I’ll grow out of it.

You’ve been asked to contribute to a charity covers album. Which song(s) would you most likely cover?

Ian: We were actually thinking of doing a Christmas carol, but then we remembered Part Chimp beat us to that one. I guess we could do ‘Agadoo’ – Black Sabbath, Black Flag, Black Lace, it all fits.

James: We are talking about a Siouxsie and the Banshees cover – well, that would sound different with four layers of psychedelic riffing, wouldn’t it?

What’s your favourite bit of band kit? If diskant could buy one thing for your band for Christmas, what would it be?

Ian: I want a pedal steel guitar (though that’s for Econoline really) and a Boss looper thing (basically because I reckon it’s better than the Akai Headrush and Summerlin’s already got two of them, so if I get one as well I’ll look a right div).

James: A big chrome Morley volume pedal and a guitar stand (too ashamed to buy one for myself). Oh, and a bass amp – I think Joe’s broken mine ‘cos he rocks so damn hard.

What are the last couple of albums you bought and are they any good?

Ian: The last few things I bought were:

Franz Ferdinand 7″ – I like it, so there; Palace music, Lost Blues, which is jolly good. I had been meaning to buy it for years, but I finally got round to it; Racebannon/Song Of Zarathustra split album – this is good too, with SoZ just edging it. I saw them at a well scary pub in New Cross a few years ago and they were mighty.

Other good stuff that I blagged or got sent recently: Gone Bald (Croatian noise rock stuff); Nebula (Let The Atomic Ritual Begin: fucking ace – fingers crossed we can open for them in the spring); Oneida – Secret Wars: heavy ass psychedelia: we are opening for this lot!; Souvaris – I Felt Nothing At All: epic!

James: Ackercocke – Choronzon: absolutely amazing, dressed up to the nines British Satanic death metal. Totally inventive and even comes with a sense of humour!; Fantomas – one track, 78 minutes. Mike Patton/Buzzo Melvins’ second installment, and this time it’s very silly, scary and inspiring..

Choose between:

(a) Indie label or major label deal?

Ian: Indie label deal, as I already have a real job and couldn’t really carry on with curing cancer if I had to go on Top Of The Pops and do in-stores in fucking Malaysia, could I?

James: Indie

(b) CD or vinyl?

Ian and James: Vinyl.

(c) Records or live music?

Ian: Live music, I’m afraid. I actually own a relatively small number of records (although don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a lot of records… just not as many as a lot of other people).

James: Live music – even though you have to put up with other people at gigs.

Sing us a song to send us on our way…

Ian: ‘He used to bring me roses… blah blah… he will again’, from seminal lezzers-in-the-big-house drama Prisoner: Cell Block H.

James: ‘Billy Jean is not my son, he’s just a girl and oh boy I am the one…’ (or something)

Website: www.heycolossus.com

Records we can buy: Hey Colossus Hates You and You and You… on Jonson Family – £5 for 35 minutes on 12″ vinyl in a lovely gatefold sleeve.