Singer songwriter Graham Colton has an uncanny pop sensibility with deep roots in folk and rock music that has already earned him both critical and mainstream acclaim. His latest album, "Pacific Coast Eyes," the follow up to 2008's "Here Right Now." hits right in the pocket of what Graham does best: write lyrics about universal themes of love and loss, and everything in between in a way that uniquely ties himself to the listener; and, most importantly, enables them to feel as though they are hearing the story of their own lives through Graham's music.
After the heady success of "Here Right Now," Colton took time to re-group. Deciding to get 100% behind his career and go indie again, he holed himself up in his hometown of Oklahoma City to begin to put down the words, ideas and melodies that had been banging around his head. The result is the pop perfect “Pacific Coast Eyes”. Chorus and Verse readers, heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere's Graham!
MS: Graham (both laugh), So, what's going on are you in Oklahoma right now?
GC: You know, I'm really not here that often anymore. But I am actually in Oklahoma doing a little bit of recording right now.
MS: Rumor has it you are based there, so I was wondering if that was the city I was patched through to.
GC: I have been traveling a lot, but I am in Oklahoma for another week, then it is back to Los Angeles, I just keep on keeping on going I guess. (laughs)
MS: You must be in Los Angeles a lot, I was watching the video for "Pacific Coast Eyes" and I saw the Griffith Park Fountain in it.
GC: Yes, definitely LA has become a home away from home. We recorded half of the album in LA and half in Oklahoma. My uncle helped me out with the video, he has been in television for the last 15 years. I told him I did not want to make another guy-with-a-guitar music video. So, we pulled as many favors as we could. It was a really rewarding process, we had the best time! My wife is my co-star in the video.
MS: Oh, that's your wife? I did not know that. She's pretty.
GC: Thank you. With the big make out scene at the end of the video, it kind of had to be my wife, and it worked out in my favor that she actually took the part. (laughs)
Graham Colton - "Pacific Coast Eyes" Official Music Video
MS: Rumor has it you wrote a song for the Oklahoma Thunder basketball team called "Rise Together."
GC: I did! Being born and raised and still living in Oklahoma, man, our basketball team has come at a really perfect time for our city. Oklahoma has been through a lot since the bombing back in the '90s. There has been this organic growth going on since then that's been compounding it seems almost annually. The basketball team could not have come at a more perfect time. I am really proud of our city. Doing the song was a blast!
MS: How did you doing the song come about?
GC: Honestly man, I had just finished the album. I had been involved with the team before. I had sang the National Anthem on their inaugural night three years ago. I had also done a couple of halftime performances as well. When this happened it was pretty magical. It's kind of hard to describe because a bunch of cities have sports teams. It really is hard to describe, it's just been a very magical experience with this team.
Their slogan was "Rise Together". I told them I was inspired to write this song, let me know what you think, if you want someone else to sing it, if you think it's terrible, let me know. (laughs) They got back to me and said, 'We love it!'
MS: Very cool! Something that is interesting about you is you scored a major record deal for "Here Right Now" and then decided to go indie again for "Pacific Coast Eyes". My guess is you feel like you have more control this way.
GC: It certainly is that, for sure. I'd be lying if I said that transition wasn't both sided. I mean, I had a new album deal with Universal and certainly had a great experience being on a major label, and got to do more things than I could ever dream of. At the end of the day, to be honest, and this is not coming from a cynical place, I felt like a lot of the opportunities that were created would have been there without the label. A lot of the relationships, a lot of the tours I got on, getting on David Letterman, Jay Leno - it was because, this thing happened and that thing happened and this person heard it.
There was never a feeling... I mean, I was never shot out of a cannon, I never had a mass marketing campaign. It was nice the label was there, they paid for the album and that was great. I got signed to Universal in 2002 and by the time came to make my second album everyone who had signed me got fired. As you know that is a typical situation right now and what those labels need is quick sales, quick stars and radio hits. That is not where I am. I don't think it made sense for them to do another album with me as much as it didn't make sense for me to do another album with them.
MS: I completely hear that.
GC: Back to the video, I knew I could do it myself. Granted, am I going to lose a little of possible exposure? Maybe, yeah, of course, but everything that is happening now is exciting and fresh and uncharted territory. It doesn't adhere to the old model. For example I just tweeted a free download this morning saying, 'here's a new song, I want you to have it.' I could have never done that in the past.
MS: Let's chat a little about your song "Best Day". It was on "American Idol." That was huge!
GC: That was off my last album with Universal. The way the song got on "American Idol" was through a friend.
GC: A friend in the business knew someone at "American Idol" and said, 'Hey, I played your song for the people at "AI."' Initially, I was told it was never going to get used and they were going to use a song by Ruben Studdard. What happened was Ruben got sideways with the people at "American Idol" and refused to record the song they wanted him to, so they were scrambling for a track, and they literally landed on mine.
I was watching the show thinking they were never going to play the song and, lo and behold, there it was. I was like, 'Oh my gosh!' It played for six weeks. I was really gracious to get that.
MS: You actually opened for the original "American Idol," Kelly Clarkson.
GC: Yeah, I have a couple of connections with "American Idol," and I was never on it. I have had people come up to me before when I was touring with Kelly asking me, 'Which Idol were you?' (laughs)
Michael Shinafelt has covered pop & dance music since he first burst on to the writing scene, interviewing everyone from pop icon Olivia Newton-John to pop artist E.G. Daily. Not to mention the many dance divas (male and female) who he has crossed paths with. Other interviews of note are Pamela Anderson, Heidi Fleiss, as well as cover stories on Margaret Cho and Kathy Griffin. Peace.