Kool Kat of the Week: Liza Colby Has a Lust for Live Music

Photo credit: Evan McKnight.

By Geoff Slade
Contributing Writer

The Liza Colby Sound has been playing loud, driving guitar rock with a groove since 2009, but they will perform in Atlanta for the first time on Thurs. Oct. 26 at Star Bar.

Think The Black Keys on Prozac (they seem to be enjoying themselves). In addition to Liza, the “Sound” also includes Tom McCaffrey on guitar, Alec Morton on bass and C.P. Roth on drums (original guitarist Adam Roth passed away in 2015). And between them they boast an eclectic and pedigreed resume that includes working with Ozzy, Jim Carroll, Joey Ramone, Gloria Gaynor and as Denis Leary’s backing band. They are awesome and fun and if you don’t love the music they make, well, then you don’t like rock ‘n’ roll.

But once the show starts, they could turn into lizard people, and I doubt anyone would notice. Liza Colby is the type of performer adjectives like “soulful and sultry” were put together to describe in the first place. She sounds like Aretha and moves with Mick’s menacing sexuality (Without Jagger’s goofiness. You know what I’m talking about). A sweaty, sexy cross between Tina and Prince, maybe?

And if it’s sexist to describe women in these terms nowadays (and it probably is), I apologize, but check this out. Better yet, in her own words: “When I sing, I want it to be badass, feminine, empowering, and ooze sexuality.” She nails it across the board.

This is not to say this band coasts on the seductive charisma of its eponymous front(wo)man. Their songs are pure hard rocking soul treasures. Singable, danceable, and definitely memorable. Check them out Thursday, and tell your friends about your new favorite band on Friday.

A consummate Kool Kat, Liza herself took some time last week to talk with us about music, her band, and why she does what she does.

ATLRetro: First off, I saw an INTERVIEW in which you said Tina Turner and Iggy Pop were huge influences for you. Could Tina have fronted The Stooges? Would that be anything like The Liza Colby Sound?

Liza Colby: I’m sure she could have. But the two are such radical, powerful forces unto themselves that the separation is what’s so inspiring. The contrast rather than the composite. What’s similar is the intense, high energy, shows. They were both a spectacle. And if people see from our live performance the punk rock rawness, and chaos of Iggy and the Stooges and the soul, femininity and bad ass-ness of Tina that I have pulled as my influence then I’m stoked.

It looks like you are in the middle of a tour. Are you on the road a lot?

We are! Not nearly enough. I love being on the road! We played Philly last night and we’re headed to Pittsburgh now. I am literally writing this in the van. It’s taking me a titsch longer than usual because I get car sick.

I know New York City is home now, but is that where you are from originally? How about the rest of the band?

Born in Mass, Raised in CT. Alec Morton (Bass) DC, Charly (Drums) Philly, grew up in Princeton, NJ, Tom (Guitar) Philly. Northeast band through and through. 

Does being based there influence the music you make?

Absolutely. The common thread is the grit, toughness and tightness that comes with the east coast. Maybe it’s the brutally cold winters mixed with the sweltering summers. The extremes. The convenience and accessibility of getting around the Northeast. The attitude. Leather jackets. The come in, kick ass, and leave mentality. And the pride of being a NYC band.

How did you come together with such a kickass band? Seriously, these guys have worked with everybody!

My husband was a friend of our original guitarist, Adam Roth. Adam brought in his brother Charly and bassist Alec who had already been working together as a unit in various bands and projects. And we just clicked. Yeah all of them had amazing resumes but this was just all our vibes lining up.

Tragically Adam passed almost two years ago and it was a terrible year trying to recover. Charly and Alec brought in guitarist Robbie Mangano (Ghost of a Sabre Toothed Tiger, Band From Utopia) who really helped us find our footing again. And then Charly found Tom McCaffery and he just completed the sound, fit us to a tee. The well of talent in NYC is so deep, but still we’re very lucky to have gotten through this.

Which song should we link to right here for anyone unfamiliar with The Liza Colby Sound? Why this song?

Our new single “Cryin'” off our soon to be released EP DRAW (November 17) It hits hard and get’s right to the point. It’s a blues-based rocker with soul for days and a killer riff.

Photo credit: Johan Vipper Delancey.

You’re playing Star Bar this Thursday. Are Atlanta crowds any different from rock fans elsewhere?

We are indeed! And the show is FREE! Soooooo you’re basically losing money if you don’t come. First time playing in Atlanta and we’ll be there with our soul mates/pharmacists The Sweet Things who booked the show with their label Spaghetty Town Records. So many of the best bands these days are coming out of ATL so they must be doing something right down there. Also anyone who knows anything tells me that Star Bar is the coolest spot in town, so we’re totally stoked.

Did you grow up performing music?

I did. My mom, dad, brother and I are all professional musicians. Performing and music are the foundation of my existence. My mom tells this story of me at a pre-verbal age performing on the coffee table in front of her and my dad to jazz a la mode. Musta been a trip.

What is your favorite thing about performing live?

Live music presents a shared moment that exists purely on the energy that the audience, and performer have at that specific time, good or bad and then it’s gone. If you weren’t there, sorry, you missed it. There is something really special about that. And a great performance is one of the highest highs you’ll ever feel. 

When did you first realize you wanted to do this for a living?

I was around 16, I had been writing and really enjoyed the process. By 18 when I went to college not for music (get ready cause this was actually my major) but for recreation and leisure, I realized that I had ventured too far off the reservation. Music was the only thing I wanted to do and that has been the focus ever since.

Photo credit: James Hartley.

When did you first realize you COULD do this for a living?

It was always a feasible option thanks to watching my parents. My brother and I saw that it was possible. And it’s a long hard road. But my mom at one point said something along the lines of:

This is a really hard business and road to take. But if you can’t live without it then you have to go for it.

Your confidence radiates from the stage. What advice would you give young musicians regarding owning their sound and style?

Keep on doing it. Put in the time (the amount is open-ended) and that is both simultaneously daunting and exciting. Be true to yourself no matter how uncomfortable it may feel. I have always liked what I like, when I like it, and sometimes I feel like I’m alone. It’s all subjective. The practice is to block out the noise and comparisons, and if you can develop a forget mechanism, you are nice. You are not as good as your best day and you’re not as bad as your worst. And create, and create, and create. 

Which is more important to you as a musician, creating or performing?

Those two are not exclusive. I don’t think you can have one without the other. The objective is to create an immersive experience for an audience. Make a space out of a non space.

Photo credit: James Hartley.

You seem to enjoy your work (the entire band does), but it is clearly work. How do you and the others bring such fresh energy and excitement to your shows after the better part of a decade?

It all takes work. Doesn’t matter what you do. We love what we do. We love music and rock and each other. Luck of the draw and we got lucky. The shows are the easy part, we are all gig whores!

Are you working on anything new?

Oh yeah, always! I love the hustle and grind. We are in the process of recording and writing our next record that will be out in 2018. I’m finishing up the sophomore EP for my other project The Gold Setting. And I have a few more seeds planted and pots on the stove. I have been in creative overdrive! 

And finally, I read that your voice has appeared on SESAME STREET! How did that come about?

Charly Roth (drummer) has been working with them for years and asked me to be the voice for the letter “Q” song. Not gonna lie SO MUCH FUN!

Thanks, Liza! We’ll see you Thursday at Star Bar with The Sweet Things and Night Terrors. And like she said, it’s a free show, so get there early! Doors at 7, show starts at 8.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

© 2017 ATLRetro. All Rights Reserved. This blog is powered by Wordpress