Paste was smitten with Colony House’s debut album, When I Was Younger, a sterling, spirited collage of narrative and songcraft with more maturity than should be expected from any first album from new recording artists. This makes us more than curious about what new stories the Tennessee natives will tell in their sophomore album, Only the Lonely, out this January on Descendant/RCA. Fortunately, the group is also sharing its current narrative in a series of tour journals as they set out on the road with The Mowgli’s. (The entries will later be collected via the Bonjournal app.) Vocalist Caleb Chapman kicks off the recurring feature with a heartfelt reflection on revisiting the music of his youth on a surprising night in Madison. Check back for more antics and reflections from Colony House.
[no-stal-juh, jee-uh, nuh-]
A wistful desire to return in thought or, in fact, to a former time in one’s life, to one’s home or homeland, or to one’s family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time.
When writing, I sometimes find myself looking up the definition of a word I already know the meaning of. Nine times out of ten I’d say I discover something new about that word. Today it was Nostalgia. I am well acquainted with this word. In fact, I find myself searching for Nostalgia like an easter egg that my parents hid on a tree limb or in the opening of a gutter when I was a child. It can be found in a smell or a color, a season or a taste. I often find it in a piece of art, like a song or a painting, or maybe even a movie or television show (thank you, Stranger Things). Last night, however, was an unusual encounter with my friend Nostalgia. I feel as if I was revisiting a former time in my life as well as presently creating a moment that one day in the future I will look back on with sentimental fondness.
I’m in a band called Colony House and we are currently on tour in the U.S. with two other bands—The Mowgli’s and Dreamers. Below is a picture of my band. I’m the idiot in the middle pretending to smoke a cigarette that doesn’t exist. Those other guys are my best friends and band mates, Parke (left), Scott (right), and my brother, Will (yellow shirt). We’ve traveled this country singing songs for nearly seven years now in some form or another. Throughout our travels we have met some of our favorite people in the world. Some of those folks are families who have opened their doors to us in times of need, and some are the bands and crews that we’ve toured the world with. Some of the people that are way up there on the list of “Favorite Folks” are our friends Switchfoot, and last summer we had the opportunity to go on tour together. Digression alert: real quick, I feel that it is important that I go back in time a bit to help set the stage for the present story at hand. So if I may…
My earliest memories of listening to a full album are with my dad as he drove me and my brother to and from school in our old silver Land Cruiser. The album was The Legend of Chin by Switchfoot. I can still see those foggy Franklin mornings in my mind. I can still remember the feeling of the cold car window pressed against my cheek and the song “Chem 6A” playing in my tired ears. For years me, my brother and my dad felt like we knew a secret that no one else was in on with this band. Eventually the secret got out, and all that we already knew about Switchfoot was confirmed. There was power in their songs and they truly had something to say. I have no difficulty recalling these memories. They are dear to me, but every now and then something happens where I feel like I am actually transported back in time to relive them all over again. That brings us back to the present tense.
So last night at 11 PM I sang on the steps of the Madison, WI capitol building with a friend of mine. With two acoustic guitars and a crowd of people that I shared a common appreciation with, I strummed along as Mr. Jon Foreman sang. Both Colony House and Switchfoot had shows that night about a mile apart from each other so we thought we’d meet up afterwards to sing a few more songs for whomever wanted to listen. This isn’t an uncommon thing for Jon to do, but what was uncommon was the position I found myself in. I couldn’t help that “wistful desire” to return to that former time, driving to and from school with my dad and brother listening to these songs. At the same time I felt like I was creating a moment that I will eventually look back on later in life—much like those drives to school. It was like nostalgia inception. The songs we sang that night were both the songs that walked my family and I through our darkest days, as well as the songs that marked the best of times in my life.
Life has a way of taking turns you don’t see coming. Now we are honored to call the Switchfoot boys our friends. In another interesting turn of events, the night before the show in Madison, Scott texted Drew Shirley (Switchfoot guitarist), half as a joke, asking if he wanted to come and play the last song of our set with us. To our surprise, he responded right back and with an “I’m in!” These are the moments where one can’t help but pinch himself. It’s amazing to see a band continue to push themselves after years and years and we join a large majority of folks by saying we have been nothing short of inspired by this band. Needless to say we will never forget September 25, 2016 in Madison, WI.