Shooting The Breeze with The Color Bars
By Nick Schwab
Who said work has to be serious all the time? Sometimes monotony and repetition gives way to unserious behavior.
Call it goofing off, or say one just likes to mix things up, but the fact remains that when work takes on an irregular pattern … it is often the most provocative and pleasing.
Case in point: my recent interview with Gerald Slevin of the Brooklyn, New York psychedelic band The Color Bars. Sometimes trying to be professional and serious can morph into two guys just shooting the breeze.
The interview questions and responses jut in and out of a serious mode and a joking manner, and the correspondence is certainly irregular.
Like when I ask him a tongue-in-cheek question about what he thinks some famous deceased figures would have thought of his music if they were alive today, he gives me a witty answer.
This might not seem like a big thing, but these “listeners” that I ask him about are: Gandhi, John Lennon and Adolf Hitler.
Slevin admirably responds: “I think Gandhi would probably be outwardly nice about it, but would be privately thinking that he has a lot more important things to do, and listening to this music isn’t one of them.”
Slevin then adds his thoughts about the other two.
“Lennon would most likely hate it, because I know he hated ( Paul McCartney’s) Band On the Run and any pop music that had to many ‘parts,’” tells Slevin, then adds, “I have no idea how Adolf Hitler would or could experience music. My guess is he probably didn’t, at least on a real human level.”
The Color Bars’ style of music is akin to the hippie age, but they’ve added some progress to it with electronic elements.
When ask what attracts him to this form, Slevin gives his reason.
“The ‘60s and ‘70s were such an explosively creative and fertile time for rock and pop music, so obviously there’s always a huge influence there,” says Slevin. “I guess the attraction lies in the spirit of that period, the freedom to do whatever you want, but with this very positive understanding running through it.”
Speaking of the spirit of the time period, I then ask him if he considers himself a member of the new-age love generation. He responds again admirably.
“Well if I said no, that would mean I am a part of the old-youth hate generation, which sounds like a bad time. So yes.”
The interview then goes into joke mode again when I ask him where would he travel if he could go anywhere in a time machine. Slevin gives me a pretty scientific answer.
“I’d like to travel back 4.5 billion years ago to the exact moment the first self-replicating DNA molecule came into existence. I think it would be really cool to examine this amazing event in which chemistry became biology,” he says. “Obviously I’d need a pretty cutting edge microscope and a team of experts to explain to me what I was looking at, but I am assuming this mission would be well-funded, seeing as they built a time machine.”
After describing his melodic music as having an “almond-paste texture: sticky, but not as gooey as honey,” I ask him about his musical style being all the flavors of the rainbow like Skittles candy, and he responds, “Not all the flavors. Do Tropical Skittles count?” I still can’t help but crack a smile and laugh at his (unserious) answer when he tells stories of recording … but I guess you never know.
He jokingly describes to me some very methodical and transcendental, as well as forward-thinking techniques of finding inspiration.
“I’ve recorded vocals a few times in ways that would probably strike an outside observer as a little unorthodox. Sometimes to get in the right mood you need to change some variables, so I’ve done it with panty hose over my head, or dressed in a gorilla suit (sans head), or jumping up and down on a trampoline, or naked while taking a freezing shower,” describes Slevin. He then adds, “Some other things, I probably shouldn’t get into.”
The interview ends with me asking him if this is one of the most head-scratching interviews he has ever received. He responds again in a respectable manner, “What was that? I couldn’t hear you over my scratching,” thus ending the interview on a polite and dignified note.
(To celebrate the release of their new album Prosopopoeia, the Color Bars will be playing live at Blind Bob’s on Saturday, April 7, The evening also includes Me & Mountains and Grenades!? Blind Bob’s is located at 4:30 E Fifth Street in the Oregon District. For more information visit blindbobs.com.)
Reach DCP freelance writer Nick Schwab at NickSchwab@DaytonCityPaper.com.