Catch up with desert disco duo Kolars and watch the video for latest single "One More Thrill" off their upcoming debut album, to be released in 2017.
What brought you together as Kolars after He's My Brother, She's My Sister broke up?
Rob Kolar: Well, we got bored, right?
Lauren Brown: [Laughs] That's the short answer.
Rob: I'll kind of speak for Lauren, though she may want to change it or add some things. Lauren really loves performing, from what I've observed, and I think she really had an itch to get back on stage a little bit.
Lauren: Yeah, I think it was a combination of wanting to get back on stage - that was part of it - but also, the idea of making music with people is something you really miss when you're not doing it. I really missed that feeling, because you connect with somebody on a whole other level when you're performing together musically - and even rehearsing music together - all of that, you're tapping into this deeper relationship and this exciting mindset. So, I really missed all of it and I missed drumming. But you keep going, Rob.
Rob: Yeah, I think we also share a very similar vision, musically and stylistically, and it was starting to get a little bit disjointed in He's My Brother, She's My Sister and maybe not everyone was on the same artistic page so, when Lauren and I started just exploring things with music between the two of us, it gelled really nicely and it started evolving very quickly; things happened in a very fluid and exciting way and we built off of each other. I think it started with, we got offered a few little shows as a duo for Sofar Sounds and a few others and we were like, 'okay, let's try it and see how it goes,' and then it evolved into incorporating tracks and more dance music and developing the sound to be a bigger sound that could be played in clubs and theaters and stuff. We're on that journey now, which is really exciting.
Lauren: And there's something really nice about it being a duo. Because we're both rhythm - I'm drums and Rob plays a lot of rhythm guitar, mostly - and so I feel like we're on the same page in that way, too. On stage, when it's just the two of us, I don't know, it just gels. It gels, baby.
Which musicians have you been influenced by?
Lauren: Rob, you have like [laughs] 9 paragraphs.
Rob: Yeah, I'll try and condense it. You can go first.
Lauren: Okay [laughs]. Well, I have a couple. I have performance-wise; I say this a lot, but I'm a huge Tina Turner fan, like, for all of it: her attitude, her dancing, her singing, all of it, and what she does has been a number one influence of mine. Then, tap-wise - because I'm also influenced by tap dancers - I would say Savion Glover has been a big influence. As a younger tap artist, I was doing a lot of the Broadway style tap - like 42nd Street and that kind of vibe - and, when I discovered Savion Glover when he was doing Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk, it was like mid/early '90s and it opened my mind to a whole new world of funk tap and this idea that you can be imperfect and that your arms don't have to always nail it. You can look however you want to look, wear whatever you wanna wear, as long as your feet are locked in a rhythm; and a rhythm that plays against what I'd been trained, as it all being just really pretty to look at. I feel like that made me want to experiment with rhythm more and experiment with my own performance style. So, those are my top two.
Rob: I guess I've always been influenced by artists who find a way to combine sounds and music that you wouldn't necessarily think to put together, and even stylistically so. Someone like David Bowie, who brought glam and that fringe world of the underground, wearing makeup and glitter and combining rock and musical music - like Broadway or show tune kind of music - piano and enveloping that all into a sound. Prince did something similar to that. And, also, they were very colorful with their style, they would take chances with the way they dressed. Elvis, combining country and blues and rock n roll and rockabilly. But then there's a lot of innovative indie artists, from Spoon to Ratatat. I feel like every era had a gem - or several gems - to pull from. I think, with this band, we're really influenced by it all: Howlin' Wolf in the blues realm, Elvis in the rockabilly, soul like Otis Redding, new wave like The Cars and INXS, grunge alternative like Pavement or The Pixies, current indie rock like Ratatat. There's great music from every decade, how can we combine all of those influences into a sound that reflects us?
Lauren: Absolutely. And I feel like it's a combination, also, of artists that break the rules. That there are no rules has been a big influence for both of us, and this idea that you don't have to be locked into one specific genre or one specific decade.
Lauren: No holds barred, go for it, combine whatever you want, everything you love, and don't be stuck in a box because someone put you in a box. I think that's a big part of it.
Rob: Absolutely, yeah. I mean, the last four songs in our set, one song is heavily influenced by disco; one is heavily influenced by new wave, post-punk, and country together [laughs]; another one is very influenced by '60s pop psych; and the other one is a bluesy dance number. So, there's all sorts of influences there that we try and emulate.
Lauren: And it keeps us on our toes [laughs].
Rob: Yeah, literally, for Lauren, literally on her toes.
Which words would you use to describe your sound to someone who had never heard your music?
Rob: [Laughs] We made up a couple genres. And they actually kind of fit, especially the newer music is even sounding more like the genres we threw out there, but we throw around words like glamabilly or desert disco or space blues or RnB-ons. Just getting playful with genres because it's always so hard to describe music. If music paints a picture, people can be like, 'okay, I guess I can get a feel for what that means' [laughs].
What were your inspirations behind your single and the video for "One More Thrill"?
Rob: Lyrically, I was thinking a lot about, most of us, at some point in our lives, have worked a day job or had to compromise the pursuits we really want inside - whether you want to be an artist, a painter, an actor, a musician, or a world traveler - whatever it is that calls you. A lot of times, in current society, you have to repress that. It was this idea of someone realizing how they had repressed that by following suit with what society deems is the path for you and breaking free from that and letting go of those constructs; breaking down those walls and breaking free from that paradigm or idea that life has to be lived in this way that's safe.
Lauren: And then, the video came from our friend, Mike Bruce. He directed it and he's directed videos for The Dandy Warhols and, who else, Rob? A bunch of artists.
Rob: Yeah. Noel Gallagher, Black Mountain, a lot of cool indie - and not so indie - bands.
Lauren: And he made an amazing film, too, and we just thought he was really great and he was a good friend of ours. He found this location in the desert that he was really inspired by and then he talked to Rob and I about it and it sounded really great. It was this place near Death Valley-ish where all of these beautiful, crazy, huge sculptures just exist in this vast desert and it's like, when you're driving up, you're just discovering this other world. We went out there for the day to shoot the video in one day and it was like one hundred billion degrees outside [laughs].
Rob: [Laughs] Lauren literally almost fainted at one point. Like, she collapsed.
Lauren: I literally spent, like, 8 hours dry heaving [laughs].
Rob: 'Cause we were in these heavy, metallic outfits and performing full on like we were doing a show; but we were performing for, essentially, 7 hours because, take after take, you have to give it the same energy [laughs] so it was exhausting. And then, we're lugging all the gear to different locations 'cause it's not one spot because the statues are all over the landscape. It was intense. We had cactus prickles in our feet, there was sand in every pore and socket you can imagine, we were sweating profusely.
Lauren: And we were so sunburnt by the end [laughs].
Rob: It was actually a really painful experience [laughs]. And the director was sick! So he was in this hot desert heat with a fever and sniffling, so it was kind of an intense shoot but, at the end of it, you come away with, probably, my favorite music video I've ever been involved in.
Lauren: And it was also this idea that, the song is like, 'one more thrill before you die'. So, the whole day [laughs] I just kept thinking that to myself [laughs].
Rob: Yeah! We totally felt like we were about to die.
Lauren: [Laughs] But it came together in the end and it was one of those things where we had a small plan but no big plan, and those are the best shoots, I think. If everyone's game and into the same vision because, tying in with what we said earlier, there's no rules, so if someone's like, 'I just want to shoot over there and I think I want to try this kind of a shot,' and we just all went for it. So, it felt like a really freeing day, artistically, even if we were all about to die.
Could you tell us more about your upcoming debut album?
Lauren: Yeah. We're saying the album's coming out in late February or early March. Throwing that out there...
Rob: I think most likely it will drop in March but, yeah, that's the general idea.
Lauren: A lot of the material we're performing now, already, while we're on the road, and then we're adding some more songs into the mix. We're working on it right now. I feel like, with Rob and I, it all feels really easy, 'cause we're both really excited about the sound we're doing and the songs we're creating, so it's all coming together in a really fun way. What do you think, Robbie?
Rob: Yeah. Well, the album will be on vinyl. We want to do something really fun with the vinyl where it's colored vinyl or spiraled, so we're working through some of the artwork; we want it to be a really nice bold cut, like a really classic kind of record look with plenty of artwork and stuff like that. It's going to have at least 8 songs on it - we're toying around with adding one or two more - but we like keeping it fairly short and simple and directed. We're picking our favorite songs from this period and putting them on there and I think it's going to reflect that sound that we're going for. It's this hybrid of energetic rock and roll, for the most part, steeped in blues and rockabilly rock n roll - like old time '50s/'60s - but then has this modern flair where we incorporate sampled grooves and beats to it, maybe leaning more towards hip hop/RnB or glam or indie rock or various other sounds we're influenced by. Just this melding of classic that we love and then pushing it forward into this modern, futuristic realm. I think that's what we'll be capturing, hopefully, with the sound on this record.
Is there a song off this album you're most excited to get out there to listeners?
Lauren: You know what's so funny? Every set that we do, because we're on tour right now, I have this different favorite one. I think Rob and I always talk about it. We leave the stage and I'm like, 'man, I really liked "Dizzy" tonight, like there's something about "Dizzy" that I'm really into'. And then we'll play in another city and I'll be like, 'no, "One More Thrill", that's the one that I really get'. [Laughs] So, mine constantly changes. I don't know if it's the place that I'm at that day or maybe it's the reaction people are giving to it and the energy that we're all sharing, but mine ends up changing a lot. But I like all of them [laughs].
Rob: That's true. I'm the same, definitely. I think, performing, there's moments in "Beyond The World A Man" live that I get moved by every time, a little bit, and I think there's an audience connection; maybe there's a sweetness to that song that's really nice to perform, like an earnestness but, like Lauren said, I agree. It really depends on the mood and where you're at and how you're feeling in that moment, listening to it.
In one sentence, how would you sum up your debut album?
Lauren: Oh, that's hard. Rob, you do that one [laughs].
Rob: Um, can we build it off of each other? You wanna say a word and then I'll say a word?
Lauren: Okay, yeah, let's do it. Space-
Rob: Space electric disco blues!
What do you hope listeners are able to take away from your music?
Rob: A good time, generally. Something that they can connect with, identify with, sing along to.
Lauren: That's good. For me, it's a sense of freedom. I don't know how that sounds, but I certainly think, because I'm always experimenting with what I'm doing with drumming and tapping and a lot of time it's scary because I don't know how it's going to work and I'm taking a lot of chances with it, but there's a freedom in that courage of just trying new things and not telling myself how things are supposed to be; just going with it and letting go, and I hope that people feel that inspiration from our music and from our live shows, 'cause that's certainly what it makes me feel.
Rob: Yeah, I agree with that.
Is there anything you want to add?
Lauren: I think it's @lbrown44.
Rob: So, if people wanna follow the one and only tap dancing drummer in the world, they can follow @lbrown44. So that's the social media stuff.
Lauren: And we're still on tour! We do Boston and Portland, Maine this week and then, next month, we do Irving Plaza in New York City, we do Philadelphia, and we do Washington DC, and that rounds it out, I think at this point.
Rob: And we're doing the Troubadour in LA and we're doing the New Noise Festival with Unknown Mortal Orchestra and some other bands later this month. There's a few dates, they're all on the site and Bandsintown.
^ = w/ Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds
OCT 13 - Allston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall^
OCT 14 - Portland, ME @ Port City Music Hall^
NOV 10 - Washington, DC @ The Hamilton^
NOV 11 - Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts^
NOV 12 - New York, NY @ Irving Plaza^