Growing up with a musician as a father, Colony House founding brothers Caleb and Will Chapman always had artistry in their blood. And after doing just about everything together throughout their childhood (including playing in their dad’s band), the siblings were always kind of destined to eventually be in a band together too — creating the foundation for their Franklin, Tenn.-based rock quartet.
In fact, Caleb (vocals/guitar) and Will (drums) were already paving their “brothers in a band” path as early as second grade: Two Car Garage, inspired by what their mom called Will’s mouth when he was missing his two front teeth. “It was pretty much like if Nirvana was in second grade,” Caleb tells Billboard. “We had a song called ‘Football in the Air’ that was literally about playing football. It was awesome.”
Although that name (and songs about sports) didn’t continue into their high school years, the boys played their own music while also backing their dad, Christian-rock singer/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman. Once they met guitarist Scott Mills through their cousin, the Chapman brothers and Mills began their venture as a band — first under the name Caleb after their lead singer, as they weren’t quite sure what direction the group would take or if it’d just be more of a solo thing for Caleb.
After determining that they would officially be a band, the guys chose the name Colony House, in honor of the housing complex where some of the guys lived in Franklin. Shortly after, the alt-rock band released its debut album, When I Was Younger, in 2014, spawning a successful single with the bouncy “Silhouettes,” which caught attention on alternative-rock radio and has 10 million Spotify streams to date. The album gained enough momentum to get the band on notable tours with artists like Needtobreathe, Ben Rector and Switchfoot.
While touring the first album, the then-trio realized they needed a bass player. They had met Parke Cottrell when he opened up for them at a small show in Knoxville, Tenn., and decided to enlist him — despite the fact that Cottrell had never played the bass before. Luckily he’s “really good at everything,” as Caleb says, so he ended up being the perfect addition. “He started as a friend, so there hasn’t been growing pains or anything,” adds Caleb. “It doesn’t really feel any different.”
Flash forward to Jan. 13, 2017, when Colony House dropped its sophomore album Only The Lonely, which Caleb says is “the story of our experience with the first album, and what doors it opened.” Inspired by the sounds of the late Roy Orbison’s era (whose classic 1960 ballad of the same name gives the album its title) Only The Lonely presents a bit more of an unpolished rock ‘n’ roll sound for the group, something that Caleb says was intentional, because they wanted to make the album more transparent than the last release — and because their live performances seemed to be resonating well with fans.
In the two-and-a-half-year gap between their first and second records, the Colony House guys focused primarily on touring to, as Caleb puts it, prove that they could “make things happen” as a band. “We were trying to earn our stripes a little bit.” Additionally, the guys were more concerned with producing something they were 100 percent happy with than pushing another album out quickly. As a storytelling songwriter, Caleb is big on being vulnerable in his music — and Only The Lonely speaks to just that.
“When you play 200 shows a year, you’re away from home a lot. And there’s this interesting thing that happens where you’re around people all the time, but you find yourself kind of lonely,” he says, speaking about the album’s inspiration. “I think we wanted to shed light on feeling alone, the issue of ignoring it and letting it swallow you up, or not ignoring it and making sure that you’re continuing to be vulnerable with people. We’re always looking for threads that weave us all together in music, and we felt like this is was a thread that is a universal thing.”
With When I Was Younger, Caleb had previously said that the songs involved questions he’d been “wrestling for months and years.” Some of those questions carried over into the second LP.
“I think, as a band, something we’ve always wanted to be conscious of is asking questions, but not feeling like we always have to answer them,” he explains. “Because I think it can lead to really beautiful discoveries if you get to the place where you’re vulnerable and you’re okay with not knowing at all. We don’t fancy ourselves philosophers or anything like that, but we’re all just trying to listen and learn from people around us.”
The band will get a chance to listen and learn from fans for the next couple of months, as they kick off a 37-date headlining tour across North America. As Colony House’s first headlining trek of their career, Caleb asserts that “it seems like a next chapter” for the group. What they ultimately hope to do with this tour is inspire those who attend — whether they’re longtime fans or just getting familiar with the band.
“We don’t want our music to be an escape from reality,” Caleb insists. “We want to be part of that reality with our fans, and we want to give them an hour-and-a-half of something inspiring and hopeful. Like, everything that makes a up a good movie: devastating, tragic, but also really beautiful.”
Transitioning from opening band to headliners is a pretty great indication that Colony House is on its way up with its latest album and beyond. And although this next chapter can be nerve-wracking, Caleb feels that the future looks bright for his band.
“We’re just gonna walk through all these doors that keep opening. It feels like a ball is rolling somewhere, we want to just hop on and see where it take us,” he says. “We haven’t been this nervous and excited about something yet up til this point. So that’s kind of cool – whenever you’re nervous, it usually means something’s at stake, which means something big could come of it.”
Take a listen to Colony House’s latest record and check out their tour dates below.
Colony House Headlining Tour Dates
15 — St. Louis, MO @ Blueberry Hill (Duck Room)
16 — Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave Bar
17 — Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
18 — Madison, WI @ The Frequency
19 — Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall
21 — Grand Rapids, MI @ The Stache
22 — Pittsburgh, [email protected] Club at Stage AE
23 — Columbus, OH @ The Basement
24 — Detroit, MI @ The Shelter
25 — Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern
27 — Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair
1 — Philadelphia, PA @ The Foundry at The Fillmore
2 — New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
4 — Washington, D.C. @ U Street Music Hall
5 — Charlottesville, [email protected] Southern
6 — Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle
7 — Charlotte, NC @ The Underground
11 — Birmingham, AL @ Saturn
12 — New Orleans, [email protected] @ House of Blues
14 — Waco, TX @ Common Grounds
19 — Houston, [email protected] of Blues (Bronze Peacock)
20 — Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
23 — Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar
24 — San Diego, CA @ House of Blues (Voodoo Room)
25 — Los Angeles, CA @ Troubadour
27 — Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory (Constellation Room)
28 — San Francisco, CA @ The Chapel
30 — Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge
31 — Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile
1 — Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore Cabaret
4 — Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court Gallery
7 — Colorado Springs, [email protected] Sheep
8 — Kansas City, MO @ The Riot Room
9 — Tulsa, OK @ The Vanguard
11 — Fayetteville, AR @ George’s Majestic Lounge
12 — Memphis, TN @ Hi-Tone
13 — Chattanooga, TN @ Revelry Room
Beginning with the March 2 show in New York City, the band will be selling Colony House Tour jackets (in partnership with JackThreads) at their shows and online at JackThreads.com, which will come with a digital download of Only The Lonely as well as exclusive content. In the meantime, check out Colony House’s “Styled By” feature on the site.