Feature: Colourmusic columnist calls local musicians to arms

September 1, 2010 by

Colin Fleishacker playing at a Stillwater house show.

This column was written by Colourmusic bassist Colin Fleishacker. He is a graduate of Oklahoma State University with a journalism degree in news-editorial. Also, he knows how to rock.

In August 2001, I was a terrified and excited freshman at Oklahoma State University. Terrified because I was alone for the first time in my life without my mother’s guiding hand, and excited because I was alone for the first time in my life without my mother’s guiding hand.

Throughout my college career, my life changed. I think everyone who is in college or has graduated from a university can agree that it is a life-altering experience, if one allows it to be.

Though most can relate to this statement, my metamorphosis came from a place outside of classrooms and textbooks: My alteration manifested from local music.

In 2001, Stillwater was a different beast than it is today. When I walked to class, I stepped on sidewalk chalkings informing those who cared of frat parties with Cross Canadian Ragweed and the Red Dirt Rangers headlining at the Wormy Dog Saloon.

Red-dirt country music ruled this fair city with a cattle-prod-filled fist.

Most of these red-dirt groups have gone on to play their music for the masses in bigger cities across the country, and Stillwater should be proud to have helped nurture them.

Having said that, for a freshman living in a musical world populated by Radiohead, The Strokes and Sigur Ros, this was utter torture.

From left is Nic Ley and Colin Flieshacker of Colourmusic. The air conditioning obviously wasn't working well.

Even on the “rock” side of the Stillwater music scene, things were just as bleak nine years ago. There was but one band with any prominence: The All-American Rejects. Blah.

Fast-forward nearly a decade to the local indie-music scene we live in today.

Other Lives, formerly known as Kunek, is recording its third full-length and Mayola is readying the release of its debut album.

Deerpeople recently released its first E.P., and Colourmusic, which I am proud to be a member of, is releasing its sophomore album internationally in early 2011.

Not too bad for a town immersed in country music nearly a decade ago, right?

Well, kind of.

I’m proud to have helped create a worthwhile music scene in this town, but one thing is definitely missing: new blood.

There was a period of roughly four years, let’s say from 2004 to 2008, where at least one new band emerged annually, enlightening listeners with eclectic shades of local independent music.

Well guess what? The artists who were a part of that four-year period are still doing what they do best. The only problem with this statement is that they’re the only ones doing anything musical in this town.

The last new band I can remember someone telling me to listen to was Deerpeople. That was two years ago.

Where the hell are the new bands in this town? I’m ready for someone to aurally assault me with a new sound created by someone who isn’t over the age of 22.

Come on kiddos, I know you’ve got it in you. It’s a good thing to play in front of people. Don’t be shy.

This column is not just an opinion, but also a call to arms to all the musicians on this campus.

We’ve come a long way from the pearl-snap western shirt days of 2001, and now it’s up to you to make sure we don’t lose what little we have to call a music scene in this town.

Get out there and play. It will change your life. I promise.

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House Show Video: Colourmusic playing “We Shall Wish (Use Your Adult Voice)” and “Tog”

August 30, 2010 by

House Show Video: DEERPEOPLE playing “New Dance”

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Feature: Chris Harris of Depth & Current

August 27, 2010 by

Norman native Chris Harris, 36, standing in his studio Hook Echo Sound. He has worked sound at numerous Oklahoma venues and recorded dozens of local artists.

Nice People making music

Chris Harris thinks small.

So, why does the audio engineer’s resume include recording a Flaming Lips album and performing with his unabashedly loud rock quintet Depth & Current?

It’s because the Norman native started early.

Harris, 36, began recording sounds as soon he got his hands on a clunky tape recorder at age 9. Today, he spends his time inside a storage area turned studio space named Hook Echo Sound in Norman. Harris will visit Stillwater to perform his frontman duties for Depth & Current at 9 p.m. Friday inside a house at 106 S. Lewis St.

He said the concert is part of an effort to build buzz for his band, which is something he normally helps other musicians do. If he’s not recording or putting to use the dozens of instruments littering his studio, then Harris spends his time on his record label Nice People, which offers free downloads of local artists’ home recordings and other songs.

“I’ve seen so many bands that I really love, that have tons of promise, die on the vines just sitting and waiting for somebody to come around and do them a favor,” Harris said. “In the end, it’s better to think small, and I’d much rather see these bands have wild local success than sit around forever and never have any success.”

And Harris isn’t one to sit around. Right now he could name several music projects he’s developing, from setting up local concerts to putting the finishing touches on a Christmas album.

Depth & Current released the EP “Arms” last year and is almost ready to premiere its biggest recording effort. Literally, the 7-inch vinyl dwarfs the band’s EP in size. Harris said he has plans to make the vinyl special. He employed his recording protégé Seth McCarroll to help paint the covers of the first 100 copies of the album.

Harris has worked with all of McCarroll’s bands.

“He’s an encyclopedia,” McCarroll said. “I can ask him any question and he knows the answer … I’m glad that he’s here. He’s done a lot for the music scene in Norman and the surrounding area.”

Depth & Current hanging out in its studio space.

The running joke

Harris thinks small, but he dreams big.

Every year he said he used to have a running joke with his wife. All he wanted for his birthday was for Flaming Lips multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd to walk into his house and play drums for an hour.
“I don’t even want to record it or anything,” Harris laughed. “I just want to watch him play.”

Ever since Harris heard the 1990 Flaming Lips album “In a Priest Driven Ambulance,” he knew he wanted to record bands. In 2009, Norman audio engineer Trent Bell needed to secretly record the Flaming Lips and Oklahoma City rockers Stardeath and White Dwarfs while they covered the classic Pink Floyd album “Dark Side of the Moon.” Bell asked Harris to help.

After sitting around for hours while the recording session began, Harris eventually started placing microphones on drums and Drozd walked into Hook Echo Sound.

“Next thing I know, he sits down next to the drums,” Harris said. “My head goes crazy.”

That was it.

That was the moment Harris joked about for years. Drozd started playing and Harris kept his face next to the drums.

Harris said it was the most “sonically visceral experience ever.” Today, he doesn’t know what he wants for his birthday.

“And I don’t know what to really shoot for in the studio anymore,” Harris said. “I’ve done what I’ve wanted to do. I can just sort of retire now.”

About a decade ago, Harris was living in a farm house in Amber with his wife Krystal Bilon. She would travel often, so Harris would plug in his guitar and practice recording until 3 a.m. He did need some sleep before starting his day job at a phone company.

But in 2000, Harris moved to Norman and started recording other bands. Recording became his day job and his home was the studio.

“When he recorded on the weekends, I just hung out upstairs,” Bilon said. “I am a great sleeper so I can sleep through drum and guitar tracking.”

Musicians take a lot of smoke breaks, so Bilon, 35, always had a chance to get food. She said she’s happy the studio space has moved out of her home and into Hook Echo Sound. She’s extremely proud of her husband’s dedication.

“Because of him, I feel like we are truly part of the community,” Bilon said.

From left is Derek Lemke, Chris Harris and Scott Twitchell of Oklahoma band Depth & Current inside Hook Echo Sound. The group rehearses inside the studio space.


Putting the band back together

Band practice doesn’t always involve smoke machines and amps.

Instead of practicing, sometimes Depth & Current will converge at Blu, a trendy bar in Norman, to talk about music and band matters.

Not much separates the band.

Scott Twitchell and Colin Ingersol have been playing with Harris for several years as members of the now defunct Subatomic Pieces. Twitchell and Ingersol started their music careers with piano lessons, but quickly moved on because of parents with musical interests. Ingersol’s folks were into church and gospel music. Twitchell’s mom was into surf punk rock such as the song “Wipeout.”

Everyone, including newer band members Derek Lemke and Joey Powell work day jobs before they can start rocking. And they all share a similar reason for enjoying Depth & Current.

“The thing I most like is playing with the guys,” Lemke said. “They’ve all been in bands I was into … before I actually started playing in bands.”

Depth & Current has spent the last year playing in local festivals and record stores. The band occasionally travels to play out of state. Harris said it’s going to take work and not luck to make it in music, but he has hope.

“I believe in this band 100 percent,” Harris said. “I think if we had one of those good luck opportunities where the right person saw us, and we got a chance to play for someone to help us out then this band could be huge.”

Harris said he’s not expecting this to happen, but he knows what can occur if he doesn’t give up.

Small or big, he will do his own thing.

Photos: DEERPEOPLE at Stillwater House Show

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In order to properly begin the 2010 fall semester at OSU, a few rock bands decided to come together for an unbelivable adventure. This house show took place in two houses during the course of the evening and didn’t end until everybody lost control and danced carelessly.

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