ABOVE: THE COLOURIST. PHOTO BY THEA GOLDBERG
With its crashing guitars and caffeinated refrains, The Colourist (yes, that’s a British “u,” and no, they aren’t actually British), is pop joie de vivre personified. The Orange County quartet (Adam Castilla, Maya Tuttle, Justin Wagner, and Kollin Johannsen) is on a mission to obliterate the idea of “guilty pleasures.” No prisoners will be taken.
We spoke with drummer Maya Tuttle and guitarist Adam Castilla about kicking off the band, gambling with the future, and the joy of crossing things off one’s bucket list. They also provided us with the exclusive premiere of their vivacious new video, “Little Games.”
CURRENT CITY: Costa Mesa, California
GETTING TO KNOW YOU: Maya Tuttle: Adam and I were in a previous band together. We met when I showed up for that audition. They had me sit at the drum set and play. All of a sudden they told me, “Maya, just sit down on the couch.” Then a few minutes later, this guy comes in and sits down at the drum set. I realize that the drummer had not been kicked out of the band yet. After a few weeks, he was.
LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL: Tuttle: I’ve been playing ever since I was a little kid. I think any kid, when they walk through a music store, gravitates towards the drums. They just looked really fun. My dad was a piano player. So I always had music around the house. There definitely was a moment that I saw The Carpenters. When I was 12 or 13, I saw a commercial for a VH1 Behind the Music. It was about Karen Carpenter. I saw this image of her playing the drums, and my mind was blown. I had never seen a woman playing the drums. I didn’t realize how badly I wanted to play until I saw someone who looked like me doing it.
SINGING WHILE DRUMMING OR STRUMMING: Tuttle: Yeah. Completely, totally learned. Sometimes people come up to me and say, “I don’t know how you do that!” I honestly think that if you’re patient enough, you can do it too. I sound horrible at first! Every time I’m trying to learn a song, it’s like learning the drums again. I have to think of feet and hands and words. But it really is a situation of practice makes perfect. I think all of us in the band, if we want to make certain sounds work, we’ll just learn the instrument. We’ll pick up another instrument and sing at the same time. That’s how this band works. We all wear a lot of hats.
Adam Castilla: We’ve had people tell us that they don’t like the switching and we should keep to our own thing. We’ve been against that. We like to keep it exciting and keep each other on our toes.
SOMETIMES PARENTS DO UNDERSTAND: Castilla: I grew up with a piano and a lot of support from family. I grew up in a musical household, where music was highly respected and was pushed toward me growing up.
Tuttle: I’d say that’s a running theme for all of us. The four of us, our families are incredibly supportive. We’ll see them at shows often enough when we’re at home. It’s been really great. They go to all our shows when we’re home. [laughs] Often they’re the wildest ones too.
ON LOCAL NATIVES: Tuttle: Justin, our keyboard player, he actually worked at a pizza restaurant. He was trained by Kelcey from Local Natives, who was also working there. Now both of them are off doing music full-time. It’s really a cool thing. It’s a strange, awesome coincidence.
COLOURING THEIR WORLD: Tuttle: [laughs] Some of the names we didn’t realize are already very famous bands. A friend of ours was working on a student film, and she mentioned that the colorist was coming in to work. She explained that it was the person on the movie that was completely in charge of the vibe and feel of the movie in many ways. We thought that was such a cool thing, to be the master of the color. We added the British u because it looked better aesthetically.
ENTERING THE STUDIO: Castilla: We were able, for the first time; to stick everything we have in the recording. We locked ourselves up for eight months and wrote these songs. We were able to go into some of the best studios and work with some of the best mixers. Basically took our vision and pushed it forward.
Tuttle: We had the idea of sticking to our roots. The producer we chose to work with for this album, he actually did our first demos as a band. It worked out so well, that we were able to use him for this as well. It’s cool; he’s seen us since the beginning. We have a great rapport. We had a good time making the record as a result, and I think it really came out. We’re really proud of what we made.
PLAN B, WHO NEEDS IT?: Tuttle: I think we’d still be chugging along. Before, we were all working either full-time jobs or several part-time jobs. At night, convening four or five nights a week to write and rehearse and play shows. It was hard work, but we really loved it. I don’t think we were near a point of exhaustion yet, because we wanted to make a life of music so bad. Even if it was just in the off-hours.
Castilla: We never really had a Plan B in mind. It’s always been this.
Tuttle: We’re gamblers. We were really gambling that hopefully this will work out and we can get our music out to more people.
LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE: Tuttle: I think amongst ourselves that’s how we’ve been able to stay together for so long. One of the biggest blockades to being a successful band is staying together. That can be a huge hurdle at times. We’re all really good about keeping moral high and looking ahead positively. We have a saying we’ve been overusing lately, but we have a lot of good problems. We should be lucky to have such problems. What songs are going to go on this album and whatnot?
WHAT’S IN A GENRE?: Tuttle: We’ll call ourselves “majestic rock” or “math pop.” The four of us really love catchy music. It’s definitely what we do. We have a lot of fun and mean what we say when we’re performing the stuff.
ON THEIR IDEA OF SUCCESS: Castilla: To go somewhere you’ve never been, and play music that no one has ever heard, and have it move them in a way where they’re shooting off e-mails, or talking to us after the show about how they connected to it.
Tuttle: We’re all really affected when we can see a response from someone and see people connecting to it. We’ll get an e-mail and read it out loud in the van and what not. It’s a really exciting feeling. Just having finished a tour with Metric and being mid-tour with Youngblood Hawke, it’s awesome to come down after the show and people are talking to you. And to connect with them that way. It’s really powerful for us. Success is being able to connect with people. It feels weird to even call someone a fan. We’re having a conversation! There’s a mutual respect there.
CROSS IT OFF THE BUCKET LIST: Tuttle: One thing that was on all four of our bucket lists was Coachella. That was absolutely amazing to be there as an artist. Moving forward, we have to pick another one because we got so overwhelmed by that one!
FOR MORE ON THE COLOURIST, VISIT THE BAND’S FACEBOOK PAGE.