Interview with Colourful Thief

We first came across Colourful Thief after putting a call out on Facebook for some acts to fill support slots at a gig we were organising in Cardiff. Samantha Bull, a member of the band, got in touch suggesting that Colourful Thief would love to play. At the time Colourful Thief was an acoustic duo featuring Sam and key songwriter Luke Kear – by the time of the gig however the band had grown into an energetic 5 piece. Cat On The Wall’s Jo Whitby caught up with Luke and Sam via email to find out more about the band and what the future holds for Colourful Thief…

Cat On The Wall: First up, for those of our readers who have yet to discover Colourful Thief can you give us an insight into how and when the band came together? Why are you called Colourful Thief?

Luke:  Colourful Thief was the name of a children’s short story I wrote sometime in 2005. The project spurned a set of recordings and although the story is long forgotten I wanted to continue to create and record music under the pseudonym ‘Colourful Thief’. This carried on as a solo project until 2011 until I decided to contact Sam about forming a band sometime back in May. After a few songwriting sessions together we decided to keep the Colourful Thief moniker and perform a few acoustic gigs together. Now, with a shot of confidence from these shows, we are pleased to announce that the band is welcoming the additions of Sion, Frankie, and Nick to flesh out the colourful sounds.

Sam: I suppose Luke and I have known each other for a number of years without ever really speaking to each other, its 6 degrees of separation kind of thing. We both attended the same high school in our hometown of Aberdare in the Valleys of South Wales so many friends of ours are connected etc. I was so pleased when Luke got in touch with me about getting involved in a band, although I study music at University I’ve been looking to get back into writing music and gigging outside of education for a while.

COTW: We’ve checked out the Green Leaf Records website and you’ve certainly recorded a lot of music! Impressive! How did you get involved with the label? Looking back at your music over the years how do you feel it’s developed? Are you happy to listen back to your old tracks?

Luke: Green Leaf Records was a blessing, I was simply lucky to be found by them as they were a group of musicians who understood the ‘do it yourself’ recording process, the low sound quality and natural approach did not disconcert them. Too be truthful the music on the website acts as a documentation of the project’s development. It is a very nude insight into its musical growth, albeit quite embarrassing to listen to in hindsight. However following the addition of Sam as co-songwriter, it is interesting to see how we are starting afresh and re-inventing Colourful Thief with a much richer and more diverse sound with a genuinely more complete output of material.  It’s the transformation from a sixteen year old boy alone in a garage to a full band naturally doing what they love!

COTW: What inspires you musically and lyrically when composing songs? Has the addition of Samantha in the band changed the way you write at all?

Luke: The addition of Sam has influenced the new songs a great deal. The general character of the compositions have gained a much richer texture due to her different tastes in music, playing and songwriting techniques. We have developed a natural process to writing with each other, usually involving lots of tea and coffee whilst talking about our home town’s music scene and life at university. The lyrics on the otherhand are usually my scribbles from a notebook with influences ranging from general everyday technological frustrations to literature, including a song based on and titled after Henry James’ novella ‘Turn of the Screw’.

Sam: I’m absolutely useless with lyrics and can’t sing at all so it’s great to be working with another musician with such a talent with words. I feel most creative late at night so that’s when I do most of my songwriting,  if I come up with an idea I really like I’ll usually record it quickly on my phone or text Luke to tell him about it. If I have time I’ll sometimes record a whole instrumental demo of the track on my laptop.

COTW:  ‘Sometimes Nothing Can Be A Real Cool Hand’ is your latest release. Can you tell us about the record? Where was it recorded? Did you write it with a theme in mind?

Luke: ‘Sometimes Nothing Can Be A Real Cool Hand’ was, in a way, the end of Colourful Thief as a solo project. It marked how far I wanted to go it alone.  The album was recorded entirely in my garage, but was written during late night sessions in Swansea Library while I was at University. Though there is no set theme the album was conceived after spending a lot of time on different holidays and excursions and was a celebration of everyday life, particularly drawn from the experience of being a student.  It was this album that influenced my decision to expand the project into a band as, though lyrically sound, the album called for a change of direction musically. I contacted Sam which turned out to be the perfect solution to refining the sound, furthering that improvement for live shows with the other recent member additions.

COTW:  You perform live regularly, what has been you most memorable show so far? How do you know when you’ve had a good gig?

Sam: I think we’ve had two very memorable gigs so far, the first of which was our very first gig as a duo at Aberdare Coliseum Theatre Bar as part of the open mic night that happens there every month. We only played two songs due to time constraints, one of our originals ‘Turn of the Screw’ and a cover of ‘Can’t Stop’ by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but we had a fantastic response from members of the audience as well as some of the other performers, people actually came up to speak to us after our set and shake our hands – which has never happened to me before in all the time I’ve been gigging, so it was a massive confidence boost! It’s a great feeling to know that people actually like and enjoy something you’ve composed!

The other is our second gig which was at an acoustic night in Elliot’s Bar Aberdare which we unexpectedly ended up headlining, the place was packed and people were clapping and singing along to our covers which was pretty cool!

COTW: Finally, what are your plans for the near future?

Sam: As Luke previously mentioned we have recently expanded the band welcoming aboard: Frankie (Cajon/Drums), Sion (Piano) and Nick (Bass) and we have been practicing frequently in Pontypridd and Cardiff over the last few weeks preparing for the gig at Ten Feet Tall on the 13th where we supported Erin Lang alongside two other great acts Laurence Made Me Cry and Scriber, which we were all really psyched about playing! I’ve always wanted to play at a popular Cardiff venue so I was very excited.

We’re really enjoying the sound of the full-band so far and have already organised some more jamming/songwriting sessions to take place over the next couple of weeks and are hoping to create some more diverse sounding songs. We’re hoping to go into the studio sometime in November and record the original tracks we already to have to release as an E.P in 2012, which is also really exciting!

In the meantime we’re hoping to get some more gigs around Cardiff, Luke and I are planning on doing some open mic nights and busking around the city centre which we will be sure to keep you updated with via our Facebook page. We’re working on getting a Twitter page sorted for the band but in the meantime you can keep updated with the us via my personal page @raccoonteeth which I update regularly.

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