Colton Avery: The Man With The Guitar (interview)

Arriving at the Manchester arena on the 6th of March, I have just read on twitter that there was a new support act added to the line-up: his name was Colton Avery and all I knew was that he was playing guitar and apparently he was quite good.

We arrived to catch Weatherman, which was sadly the last song in his setlist but an amazing introduction to Colton to everyone who’s never heard of him. I managed to record a snippet that night:

I was able to see him a couple times since and hats off for his performance that was spot on every single time. It’s hard to captivate an arena audience with only a guitar but Colton’s powerful voice just makes you pay attention, no matter where you stand or sit. It’s got a bit reggea-like tone to it although his music is more blues than anything.

He has recorded an album, contributed 3 songs to Glenn Beck’s Man in The Moon soundtrack and sang on Especially For You albums. Being from Phoenix, Arizona, Colton has a southern gentleman feel to him which comes right through as he starts answering the interview:

You first played on the UK tour as a support for The Script and they were sold out arenas. Have you played to audiences this big before? Did you have any nerves or do you have any rituals to calm them?

No ma’am. These are hands down the biggest venues I’ve played. Back home in Phoenix, my biggest show was to 5,000. And the first few shows I was extremely nervous. The combination of playing new songs, in a new country, to tons of people definitely had an impact on me, but after the first few shows I settled down. Everyone’s reaction was so welcoming, my nerves aren’t nearly as bad as they were in Liverpool where I first opened. 

After a couple weeks you can see some of the audience sing along to your songs. What’s the best way to describe what it feels like?

It feels absolutely incredible. I don’t think it’s something you ever get used to as a writer and musician. There’s nothing better than having people not only relate to your feelings and emotions, but to also have them prove that what you’re doing in the studio is well worth it. 

You’re not playing any songs from Waves, the album that’s already available pretty much everywhere. What was behind that decision?

The answer to that is pretty simple. I’ve grown a lot as a musician since that album, and I just felt like it was time to start the next chapter. I’m sure I’ll reminisce on those songs some day and bust one out on stage, but at this current point in my career it’s time for the next thing.. Which is album 2.

I’ve heard a song, Listen, where you sing with a piano, not with your guitar. Is it you playing? What instruments do you play?

I’m not playing piano on that track.. In fact, I didn’t write that song either. I have a friend who produces those EFY albums, and he asked if I’d be interested in singing on one of the songs.. I’m not LDS or anything, but I thought the message of the song was lovely so I agreed to sing and I think it turned out well. As far as instruments are concerned. I’m really only a guitarist, but I dabble on quite a few instruments well enough to record with them. I don’t claim to play them well though, and if you ever see me play another instrument, you’ll see how unorthodox I am and know exactly why I don’t claim to be a multi instrumentalist.

When did you start playing music and what drew you to it? Is your family musical?

I picked up a guitar at 13, so I guess that’s when you could say I formally started playing. Before that however, I was a music addict. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t listening to music, singing, dancing, and playing tennis racquet guitar in my room. So I guess it’s in my bones. As far as having a musical family, I’d say I come from more of an athletic family more than anything else. They are all heavy into sports and many have played sports at the college and pro levels. On the flip side of that coin, my dad is honestly a better singer than I am and was briefly in a band in high school, and my great grandpa sounded exactly like Ray Price from stories I’ve heard. So I guess you could there’s some traces of Musical DNA in my family. If anything I come from a family of music lovers more than anything else. We love listening to music. 

Who is your “beta-testing” audience? Who do you show the songs first?

It used to be my brother and sister. They’re both younger than me, so their gut reaction to a song is one I value highly. But as of late it’s been the lads and Jimbo (Barry, producer). Theire opinions mean the world to me, then I go to my family for affirmation… If everyone enjoys it. It’s more than likely an okay song.

Haha you saw that? Nice. Hmm… Everything has been a surprise lately. From getting to open, traveling to a these new countries, seeing the hotels and venues, riding on the awesome bus with the guys.  It’s all been eye opening. I feel like a new born most days as of late. I’m experiencing so much for the first time. I’m just trying to savor every minute and moment that I can. it’s rare that those moments happen the older and wiser you get, so you do your best to cherish them.

What do you all do on the day of a gig? The buses would usually arrive in the morning, how do you spend the day? Do you get a chance for some sightseeing? Any favourite places so far?

Sure, I usually find time to wander around a bit. Sometimes I write, play and work on songs, and others I just bug the crew and the lads, but I try to see as much of each city as I can. I think my favorite places so far have been Brighton, Manchester, and Amsterdam, when it comes to super vibey cities and cool architecture. My favorite crowds though so far have been either France or Cologne.

The Script are brilliant performers, do you watch them after your set is done from backstage, VIP rooms, seats or standing? Do you take any mental notes, like “that’s cool, I’d like to try it myself”?

They’re fantastic performers, and most nights I watch them from the pit, standing with the crowd.. I’m just as much of a fan as everyone there, so I like to see the show from where I would’ve bought tickets. I’m always taking notes from them as well as Tinie. Performing is just as much of a craft as anything else, so I’m constantly learning. Plus, I’m extremely competitive, so I won’t settle until my show is every bit as good as the top acts such as the Script. I love the friendly competition, it keeps us all moving forward.

Have you played with a band or do you plan to?

Yes ma’am. I have a band that joins me on stage back home. And I definitely plan to use a band on stage in the future.