|Photo by Sean Hagwell|
Interview with The CO
Chris Vetrano: Alright, I know you’ve addressed this before in interviews (and with me personally), but being from Colorado it’s my duty to ask: Why the name ‘The CO’ and what does it mean?
Troy Akers: Collin and I were trying to brainstorm a new name for the band when our music started taking a turn towards what was really us. We wanted something that didn't necessarily pigeon-hole the band into one meaning or when someone actually read "The CO" they thought of... you know... screaming babies. The CO is whatever the fan wants it to be. For me, I want a new listener to think of The CO as the definition equalling their favorite song. Or what a song actually means to them. There's fun insider things like T + C can stand for Troy and Collin...early on. Or a lot of us are in love with Colorado.
Collin Brace: I've been in love with Colorado since I was there the first time when I was 10. My wife is from CO and I have a lot of friends out there and I'm determined to retire out there.. So i guess you could say The CO just made sense.
Chris: You just released your long awaited sophomore record Keep It Together. What was the process like in recording this record and what took so long between this and your debut?
Troy: On the outside, it must have seemed like it took forever. But in the inner-circle we are always writing. So singles that we put out like "Just Can't" and "Camo" were only pre-cursers. We began writing for this record as soon as the first EP was done. Ultimately we ended up with over 40 songs to choose from...if not more. A full record takes time...and that's just wanted us to be sure of—a record that hit on all heart-strings and was worthy of being fully who we are.
Chris: Well, it was well worth the wait! Now that the record is finally out, what are the plans to promote it? Will The CO be hitting the road?
Nate Fleming: Fingers crossed! That is definitely our main focus right now. Ideally we will be getting opening spots for some of the bigger touring bands out there.
Troy: Yes! Our first stop for spring is SXSW, so that should be fun. After that, we'll be hitting NYC and LA into the summer as well as some regional shows with other bands. We haven't been out in so long...so it's gonna feel great.
Chris: Is this going to be your first time in Austin for SXSW? What are you looking forward to most about it?
Nate: It will be the first time as a band. I think I’m mostly looking forward to the TexMex.
Troy: I honestly have heard Austin is the best place in Texas. And since I feel like most of Texas is a hot oven, I am excited to see what it has to offer. I'm a huge fan of Johnny Cash...and I know there is a bar there that is all Johnny Cash themed. SO...I'm gonna find that and stay there.
Chris: Well I am sure that your time in Austin will definitely earn you some new COhorts. Speaking of which, Troy, you’re very active with the band’s (and your own) social media and engaging with the fans. Where did the name 'COhorts' come from?
Troy: COhorts is a funny thing. It started out as #COaters [on Twitter] and I really am not sure where that came from. Since we really didn't know what it meant we looked at something that had more of a special meaning. Everyone knows that nowadays a band is not a band without fans...and even more...without social media. That's why these amazing people are so important to us. In a sense, I see the COhorts as our partners in crime. Wherever they live. Germany. Arkansas. Sweden. They are our flag-bearer. They represent us until we get to them. They're just as important as anyone else on our team...if not more. They're our hands and feet. Partners in crime and music and what we believe to be a movement of this music.
Chris: Well speaking of movements, you generated a large online buzz after releasing a couple of collaborations with YouTube’s Tyler Ward, who’s known best for his cover tunes. Will The CO be releasing more videos – either on your own or collaborations – in the future?
Collin: We will never stop making videos, its such a perfect way to connect with our fans internationally. Plus we are all so artistic and creative that we just really love doing videos. We'll be doing a new full production music video with Sean Hagwell in April. I can say that it will be a whole other level. We also plan on doing another with my brother Evan Brace, who's done most of ours thus far.
Troy: We love Tyler—and I think there is no doubt that we could possibly do some more stuff with him. We owe a lot to him being so brave in featuring two of our songs. It was a ride.
Chris: Nate, you’ve been known to turn out some rad remixes under your DJ name DJN8, including one for “Frequency” from KIT. When did you start and what track that you’ve remixed is your favorite? Where can we hear it?
Nate: I started a couple years ago the same way I feel like a lot of DJ’s do. I’m really into the production side of recording, but not so much the songwriting. So, I just take the vocals from existing songs and see how creative I can get with it. My favorite track I’ve ever remixed was probably "Climax" by Usher. The production on the original track by Diplo was genius. That remix is still hidden away somewhere on one of my hard drives, but I also really loved how the "Frequency" remix turned out, which you can get on our website.
Chris: Awesome! I have a feeling that hard drive could provide the soundtrack to a great dance party or two. And if I am still invited to your place after Collin's surprise birthday party a couple years ago (for those not in the know, don't ask), I'll be there moving like Jagger. Speaking of said lead singer, Collin, what artists do you draw inspiration from when it comes to performing live?
Collin: My inspiration comes from the other guys on that stage with me. I want nothing more than to make them proud, they work so hard and they deserve my best. My inspiration doesn't come from artists if I'm being honest. I'd say right now I don't even have a favorite artist - besides Gregory Alan Isakov. My inspiration comes from the bigger story Im trying to write. It comes from the mentors behind the scenes that have my back and keep me on track. It comes from our team. It comes from my wife, and without being cliche' my greatest inspiration comes from an intimate relationship with Jesus [Christ].
Chris: Here's a question for each of you. What is your favorite song from Keep It Together and why?
Troy: That's is a tie for me. "Frequency" and "Two Against One." "Frequency" was the first song that I was thinking up for the new album. I wanted to go completely out there. And thankfully, Nate let it run when we put a demo down. I was terrified becos it exuded all of this insane emotion ... passion ... even sex appeal. It's all about the music. I envisioned it being our Hollywood song. Something that was fun but something that got lodged in the listeners ear. My fave line is, "you hear the DJ cry / give me songs till I die." I live by that. "Two Against One" was a song I almost threw away. On a demo night, I remember showing Nate the song and told him I really didn't think it was anything. But he insisted, we put a piano track down and it just happened. The words even now... I have no idea where they came from, but they're some of my favorite words. And it's meant more and more as time has gone on.
Chris: Nate and Collin, what about you guys?
Nate: "Two Against One" - the feel and flow of the song is something way different than anything else we’ve ever done. I really love how it builds into the bridge but doesn't get too explosive. The lyrics are really great as well!
Collin: Which of your children is favorite? You answer that and I'll answer your question. [laughs]
Chris: I don't have any children, so that's easy for me, but fair enough. Well then let's pull focus from your own project, what are your favorite artists and/or songs so far from 2013?
Collin: Macklemore and Imagine Dragons.
Nate: I've had the new Tegan & Sara album on repeat ever since it came out. "Closer" is my jam right now.
Troy: "Stay" by Rihanna featuring Mikky Ekko - mainly because I think Mikky Ekko is a bad-to-the-bone writer. I look up to him a lot.
Chris: All good choices indeed! Well it's been fun guys. Last question for the readers, what is the best thing about being in a band?
Nate: The best part of being in a band is definitely the brotherhood. It's like running a business with your best friends. I know that whatever happens inside or outside of music I've got two guys that will always have my back.
Troy: Without these guys, or getting to be roommates with Nate, I don't know what I would do some days.
Collin: Each of us truly care for the other first, and then we focus on music. We all understand that giving up on anything isn't an option, we keep each other fighting. And of course when we travel it always throws me back to those awesome grade school sleepovers - Troy keeps the party alive!
Download The CO's sophomore record 'Keep It Together' now on iTunes and check out the band's upcoming tour dates at thecomusic.com.