With members hailing from New York, Belfast & Melbourne, Columbia’s music burns with a desperate energy and confronts classical themes of love, faith & working life. We had a chat with them, discussing all things from EPs, influences and live performances.
1. What is Columbia? How would you describe yourselves?
Columbia a four piece post-punk band made up of full time white collar professionals in our late 20s/early 30s. Our sound is fairly dark in tone and would probably be best described as a ‘slow burn’.
2. With members hailing from New York, Belfast & Melbourne, how did you all meet and decide to start performing as Columbia?
We met through mutual friends. I (Mick Magee – vox/guitar) met Simon (Spratling – guitar/synth) through a mutual friend from law school. We started playing together in mid-2012 and eventually met Mike (Blancato – drums) through another acquaintance. Mike is from New York but moved here with his then girlfriend (now wife) who is also from Melbourne. The three of us played together for around 9 months while we looked for a bass guitarist. We met Vinny (Feeny – bass/synth) in the Autumn of 2013 on the Internet in really creepy circumstances (that’s not entirely true). Vin is actually a guitarist and was in a number of bands back in Ireland before moving to Australia with his long term girlfriend who happens to be from Melbourne as well. He was happy to play bass guitar with us despite it not being his first instrument, and has formed a great international rhythm section with Mike. We all have similar tastes in music & get along really well so getting Columbia off the ground has been a natural process which hopefully translates to the music itself.
3. Which bands/artists are your biggest inspiration whilst writing music?
Our sound definitely takes a lot of cues from well-known new wave & post punk bands from the last 20-30 years, but we’re also trying to find our own voice. There are some obvious influences such as Joy Division, U2 & The Cure (it would be folly to suggest otherwise), however we have a pretty broad pallet of tastes outside of these groups (and outside of music really) which influence the song writing process as well.
4. What song do you currently have on repeat?
Personally, I’ve been listening to ‘I Could Give You All That You Don’t Want’ off the new Twilight Sad record, along with ‘Heart’ by Haerts (the guitarist is my old college roommate from NYU) & ‘My Creator’ by Wye Oak.
5. You recently performed at Melbourne’s Toff in Town as part of your headline show for your tour, how was that?
Playing at The Toff for our EP launch was a great experience. We had a good turnout and played pretty well despite the sweltering conditions on stage. We’d love to play there again, and have been lucky enough to play at most of Melbourne’s iconic music venues in the last 12-18 months while we develop our sound.
6. What is the best and worst thing about performing live?
The best thing about playing live is the thrill of playing your songs to a group of strangers, and the kind of small battle that goes on during a show to win people over who haven’t heard your stuff before. The worst thing would be the banter between songs. It’s not my strong suit at the moment but I’m working on it.
7. Who would you love to support whilst on tour?
If reality is no barrier, it would be brilliant to be chosen to support a well-known international act touring Australia like Interpol, or a living legend such as Tom Waits or Leonard Cohen. We’d also love to open for great up & coming acts like Angel Olsen, Protomartyr, The Twilight Sad and Sharon Van Etten. One can dare to dream.