For the past 10 years, Colony House has been a torchbearer of Nashville’s indie rock legacy, carrying the flame from acts like The Features and Glossary to running alongside projects like COIN and Briston Maroney. Taking a moment to look back, Colony House’s career to date includes a remarkable foundation of media accolades (New York Times, Entertainment Weekly), late night appearances (Seth Meyers, Conan), festival slots (Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza) and, perhaps most importantly, an ardent fanbase that shares a love for the band’s immaculately crafted brand of landlocked surf rock. With their fourth studio full length album The Cannonballers (out February 3, 2023 – presave available here), the band pens a love letter to their Tennessee childhood and the ever-changing nature of Nashville.
We caught up with frontman Caleb Chapman to explore the meaning behind the new album and his thoughts on what makes Nashville creatively unique.
How did Nashville’s creatives, spaces and culture play into your latest project?
We have been telling people that this album is, in a way, our love letter to Tennessee (and specifically Nashville).
The title of the album itself, The Cannonballers, was inspired by an old Opryland USA theme park rollercoaster that me and my brother used to ride all the time called “The Wabash Cannonball.” Lyrically, we spend a lot of time on the album revisiting old memories from our childhood here that call out how simple it used to be while also relating Nashville’s ever changing skyline to the unpredictability of life. There’s a song that is literally about Nashville called “Landlocked Surf Rock.” It’s light hearted and full of energy and will be the first track on the album. It’s a handshake song so to speak… the “Nice to meet you, we are Colony House” type of song.
With that said… it is also the song that has snuck up on us and brought us to tears because of the emotions and memories it evokes. This song talks about our home, being this wild and ridiculous place that will make you roll your eyes at it but not without a smile on your face. We were all born here, we grew up here, we have buried the people dearest to us in this place and are now raising kids here… no matter how far these songs take us away from our home, it’s that “Landlocked Surf Rockabilly kinda feeling that keeps us dreaming” and coming back to the place we love more than anywhere else… Tennessee.
What does the city of Nashville (or Nashville as a concept) mean to you?
Nashville is like a dream you will never fully understand. It is a magical town that offers itself to storytellers, and dreamers.
I still feel like I am brand new at this whole thing somehow, even though we’ve been a band for nearly 10 years now, and I think Nashville has something to do with that. You never “arrive” in this town… you never “make it.” The best of the best simply keep on doing it because they can’t help it…
For many, Nashville means a fun pitstop or a rowdy vacation, for others it means a good investment, but for us, Nashville is and always has meant home.
After 10 years of creating art, touring, experiencing big wins (and I’m sure setbacks), have you processed what it means to play both the Ryman and Bonnaroo this year? HUGE congrats! So much hard work over the years went into these milestones.
Not quite. I think we won’t be able to fully process them until they are behind us. Both moments represent huge steps for the band and we are incredibly grateful for both opportunities.
What keeps you coming back to Nashville?
Nashville always felt like a small quiet city… in a way, it felt like it was just trying to keep up with the big cities, and I think that’s kind of how our band has felt for all these years, I wanted to try to encapsulate the emotion that this town is a place that keeps us dreaming. Though it has changed and grown into something totally different than it was growing up—it will always keep us coming back.
It’s the idea that you never fully “arrive” or “make it” in this town. The best songwriters I know have been writing songs longer than I have been alive and are still “trying to figure it out.” Something about that takes the pressure off. Of course having all of our families and literal lifelong best friends here doesn’t hurt either.
Colony House’s The Cannonballers is out on February 3. The band celebrates with a hometown show at Ryman Auditorium on February 11 at 8PM. Tickets start at $30. Colony House is also set to play Bonnaroo 2023 on Saturday, June 17.