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Michigan band’s colorful on-stage spectacle is loose and crazy

BY ERIC SUNDERMANN | JULY 09, 2009 7:21 AM

mp3 sample: Awesome Color

"Already Down"

Comparisons are a common trend in music: John Mayer with Dave Matthews, Sufjan Stephens with Elliott Smith, or Bob Dylan to, well, anyone with a raspy voice.

Awesome Color, from Michigan, is no different, with critics often drawing similarities to the Stooges and Sonic Youth — which humbles vocalist/guitarist Derek Stanton (also known as Awesome Derek).

“I didn’t know that Rolling Stone compared us with Sonic Youth,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve noticed any of those comparisons yet, but that’s pretty cool. I love them.”

Awesome Color will take the stage at the Picador, 330 E. Washington St., at 9 p.m. July 12. EYES ft. Jesus is Angry and Mondo Drag will open. Admission is $8.

The band formed during a gradual progression from friends jamming to a formal group around five years ago in New York City, but each member is originally from and now lives in Michigan.

“The name was kickin’ around our heads as a joke,” Stanton said. “ ‘If we ever start a band one day, it will become Awesome Color,’ or some shit like that.”

The band grew successfully after the joke materialized into a real name, releasing two albums with a third on the way. Awesome Color even spent the last few years touring with Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr., bands the group cites as influences.

“We always really want to put on a good show and have a lot of fun,” Stanton said. “Rock as hard as we can without taking ourselves too seriously and being assholes … Opening up for bands such as [Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr.] is a dream come true for me.”

Stanton describes Awesome Color’s live performance as free-spirited and random. The group tries to have an element of looseness and craziness in its music.

“It’s super fun,” he said. “We don’t really write set lists. We never play every night the same set, same side of the stage. We usually just play for about a half hour and go about as crazy as possible during that time. But crazy as possible with the music — not jumping off the stage or lighting shit on fire.”

However, the band’s recording process is a bit different from the live performance. Stanton enjoys taking an artistic approach to the studio, hoping to inspire people with Awesome Color’s music.

“Getting something to work just right [in the studio] where it feels so good that it becomes something more than yourself,” Stanton said. “When we hear a song played back, and we can’t believe we played that, we wrote that. It detaches from us and becomes its own piece of art and travels to other people’s psyche. That’s the ultimate feeling.”


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