Interview with Columbia

We hero so many Scottish bands here at Record Weekly, so it’s about time we caught up with a Welsh outfit on the rise. Say hi to Columbia…

Image credit: Chris Milligan


Hi there, how’s it going?

Sten: All good thanks! Currently writing this from the work van, on standby due to the severe weather…

Craig: It’s going very well thanks. We’ve just released our new single, ‘Glory People’, and the reaction to that has been absolutely amazing. It’s had loads of plays on radio stations, and lots of really positive reviews. We’ve got our debut album coming out in the new year, so we’re really excited about that, too. So yeah, everything’s pretty good at the minute.

We’re all ready for Christmas now as well, but also already looking ahead to 2022. It has the potential to be a very big year for the band.

Tell us a bit about yourselves, where you’re based and when and how you formed the band.

Sten: We’re a Welsh valleys band with a love for writing and playing music! I’m the newest member, joining the band in March via my mate Webber (Chris, our drummer).

Craig: We’re based in Cardiff but a couple of us live in the valleys. Cardiff is our base where we practise and we do all our recording. As a band, me (lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist), Ben (lead guitarist) and Chris (drummer) had played together in a band quite a few years ago. But Chris joined the army and was gone for seven years. Me and Ben sort of plodded along and played a couple of gigs here and there in different bands, but we didn’t really take anything too seriously.

Chris finally left the army, about three years ago, so we got back in touch and got back into the practice rooms. Things all sort of fell back into place again. It took us a while to find a bassist that truly fitted the band and what we were looking for. We went through a couple of bass players and then finally we managed to get Sten involved. He’s come in and been a breath of fresh air. He brings a groove that we’ve never had before, so we’re finally where we need to be.

Which artists have influenced your sound the most?

Craig: As a teenager growing up in the ’90s, obviously all the Britpop bands. Oasis have been very influential, but also early Stereophonics, Doves, The Verve. Then a bit later, Kasabian and The Enemy have been in the mix. Bands that write positive, upbeat songs, basically. Songs that, you know when you listen to them, you wanna be with your friends at a gig with beer in hand.

Other members have got completely different tastes and influences. Ben loves Johnny Marr, The Smiths and Manic Street Preachers. He loves his blues, too, and Keith Richards is another big influence. I think it’s because we’ve all got such a wide base of influences, it means that our songs don’t all end up sounding the same. We’ve all got an input during the writing and recording process, and it comes through in the music.

Sten: For me, my bass influence comes from a range of people like Chris Wolstenholme (Muse), Mike Dirnt (Green Day), Barry Fratelli (The Fratellis) and Nick Oliveri (Queens of the Stone Age). All put into one pot and covered with my own flair.

How have the last 18 months been, in terms of the pandemic impact?

Sten: Musically, lame. Only played my first gig with the band in October, having joined in March…

Craig: It obviously slowed everything down. But, during that time, it gave me a chance to actually sit down and write some songs. Rather than trying to find an hour here and there, we actually had the opportunity to sit and take our time. So album two is already looking pretty strong.

We were in the studio in the summer of 2020, during a lockdown reprieve, to begin recording our debut album, ‘Embrace the Chaos’. We managed to get four songs recorded, all of which are on the album. We then obviously went back into lockdown and it was another year before we returned to the studio, to record the other half of the album.

We had a really good producer in Andrew Sanders (Kings Road Studio), who pushed us to create something special. There was a saying, “I’ve got an idea”, and that was usually coming from Sanders or one of the band members. It was a “let’s try this” or “let’s try that”. And, more often than not, they came out sounding great.

I think the fact we had a bit of a break in between recording the first half of the album and then going back in about ten months later, to get the second half completed, helped us understand what we could do in the studio. It definitely gave us time to really listen to what we’d done, reflect and come up with a distinct plan for the next session. Going back in, we wanted to really push the sound. And I think we did that.

What hobbies, besides music, kept you going?

Craig: For me personally, eating, drinking and being on Zoom calls more than I’d ever been in my life. It was also a time to reconnect with friends and people I hadn’t really spoken to for a while. We all had nothing else other than time, so I wanted to try and use it in a positive way, as much as I could.

Sten: My job; I’m railway maintenance with Transport For Wales and work with a great bunch of lads. Never a chore with them. I’m also a gamer, so mostly playing on the PS4 (Red Dead Redemption 2, GTA, The Last Of Us, etc).

You’ve got a tour scheduled and an album due out in March — how buzzing are you about both?

Craig: So excited about the debut album finally coming out. It’s been a long time in the making! We’re just eager to get it out to people so they can hear what has taken so long to finally release. There’s plenty of different sounds on the album, something for everyone. There are straightforward, fast-paced rock ‘n’ roll songs and some acoustic tracks on there too, which are a bit more personal.

We will hopefully be finalising the tour dates in the coming month. I just think we wanna get out playing as many live shows to as many people as possible. So those that haven’t discovered yet will soon find out what we’re all about.

Sten: Yeah, I’m excited! I can’t wait to get the music out there for everyone to enjoy, as well as play different cities/meet the fans.

Is there anything else you can share at this stage?

Craig: We’ve got a big gig coming up soon in the new year in Cardiff. It’s a hometown gig for us, so we’ll be looking to get that packed out. We’ll be announcing more details very soon. We’ll hopefully be using it as a bit of a launch to our tour.

And then obviously the release of the album, which we are all super-excited about. We’ve also got plans to get back into the studio and start working on some demos.

But the main thing for us for the most part of next year is getting this debut album out and playing it to as many people we can. That and just enjoying being in a band and playing again with your mates.

Sten: If you see me at a show, I’ll have a pint of Staropramen, please! (Or a ciggie…)

Image credit: Strangebrew

Ready to check Columbia out for yourself? Head to Facebook, Instagram and Spotify ASAP.

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