“Best Days” Music Video
“Pacific Coast Eyes” Music Video
“Born to Raise Hell” Music Video
After relocating from Dallas to Los Angeles to spend much of the next decade touring and recording as a Universal artist, Graham Colton has rediscovered himself as an artist outside the world of major label influence by going back to his roots in his hometown of Oklahoma City. Reconnecting with old friends producers/musicians Chad Copelin and Jarod Evans of Blackwatch Studios, Colton has become a staple in the burgeoning OKC arts community. He has established himself in many ways at once: writing songs for other artists and film & TV licensing; co-writing with and developing new artists; opening a production studio; launching Fanswell, an online platform for artists to book non-traditional concerts hosted by their fans; and stretching himself creatively as an artist through collaborations with good friend and fellow OKC musician Wayne Coyne (The Flaming Lips).
Colton got his start while attending Southern Methodist University where he began writing and performing songs in and around Dallas. It was there that fate and the internet took Graham to new heights as his songs were quickly spread through file sharing. “I would return to my college dorm room and have e-mails from kids across the country asking where to buy the album”.
In 2002 he released his self-titled debut album, which fell into the hands of Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows who asked Graham to support them on their tour. It would prove to be a friendship that would evolve over the next two years of touring and recording.
After the fall stint with Counting Crows in 2004, Graham and his bandmates signed a record deal with Universal Records, and entered the studio with producer Brendan O’Brien at Southern Tracks in Atlanta to record the album Drive. The album release was followed by a heavy tour schedule supporting artists John Mayer, Maroon 5, Dave Matthews Band, Guster, Gavin DeGraw, Train, Sister Hazel, NEEDTOBREATHE, and Kelly Clarkson, proving the band had the ability to connect with all types of listeners.
Graham’s 3rd album, the 2007 release Here Right Now, debuted at #2 on the Billboard New Artist/Heatseeker chart, and #4 Pop Album/#11 Top Album charts on iTunes. Lead single “Best Days” landed him performances on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the Late Show with David Letterman, NBC’s Today Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Live with Regis and Kelly. The song was also featured on American Idol.
Over the years Graham has proven himself to be a diverse writer with a knack for pop hook. He is a frequent writing collaborator that enjoys working with both established writers such as Dan Wilson, Richard Marx and Kevin Griffin to up and comers like Lucy Schwartz, Chad Copelin and Jarod Evans. His songs have been featured on numerous TV shows including American Idol, The Voice, About a Boy, Pretty Little Liars, Kyle XY, Oprah’s Big Give, Newport Harbor, Castle, Wildfire, October Road Fall promo, HBO Winter promo, Sundance promo, and many others. He has just opened a full production studio in OKC with his long-time writing, musician, recording collaborators Brine Webb and Dustin Paige.
As an artist Graham continues to remain very active recording and touring. His collaborations with Wayne Coyne inspired him to experiment and broaden the way he looked at the songwriting process. Colton holed up at Blackwatch Studios with his frequent collaborators/producers/bandmates Chad Copelin and Jarod Evans to write and record the January 2014 release Lonely Ones. The album is ten tracks of lush indie/psych pop gems, each with its own interesting twist. Playful touches like handclaps and la-la-las accent ear-wormy melodies. Lonely Ones shows not just growth but almost complete reinvention – an exciting move for an artist who has already seen his share of commercial success.
Invasion Group, Ltd
Oklahoma City singer-songwriter Graham Colton changes his game
Oklahoma City musician Graham Colton has changed his game musically, encouraged by the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne. Colton will perform songs from his 2014 album, “Lonely Ones,” during a free concert at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Bricktown’s Centennial Plaza.
Guitars do not chime on Graham Colton’s new single, “Born to Raise Hell,” and if there are any six-string instruments on the song, they certainly are not calling the shots. Instead, spacious keyboard sounds and layered vocals carry the day.
As he plays the track through the mixing board in his private studio in central Oklahoma City, Colton is smiling. He has changed the game.
“I had all these little fragments of songs, and this song started from this keyboard the Flaming Lips loaned me,” said Colton, who will perform songs from his 2014 album, “Lonely Ones,” during a free concert at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Bricktown’s Centennial Plaza. “I just started pushing buttons and doing weird stuff.”
And it was Wayne Coyne who encouraged the button pushing. In 2012, Colton and Coyne met at Blackwatch Studios in Norman and collaborated on a cover of Sparklehorse’s “Don’t Take My Sunshine Away.” The result sounded nothing like the guitar-driven pop-rock Colton recorded for Universal Records on 2004′s “Drive” and its follow-up, “Here Right Now.” It simply did not sound like the guy who opened for Counting Crows and the Wallflowers.
The Sparklehorse song began Colton’s journey to recording “Lonely Ones,” and it was Coyne who pushed him down the road less traveled.
“He said, ‘Dude, put the acoustic guitar down. Put all guitars down. Just open up a different part of your brain and see what happens.’”
Colton began hanging out at Coyne’s house, spending several evenings listening to Coyne’s favorite mindblowers such as the Beach Boys’ 1966 classic, “Pet Sounds.” As Colton absorbed Brian Wilson’s “teenage symphonies to God,” he started to hear how his own music could take on new dimensions.
“We listened to stuff that was seemingly pop music but had all these twists and turns,” Colton said. “It wasn’t just ‘verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-out.’
“And he would be like, ‘Dude, did you see what happened there? It’s a completely new section.’”
Relishing the new
Colton, 31, is relishing this new section of his creative life. After parting company with Universal five years ago, Colton began building relationships with area musicians and taking an active role in the Oklahoma music scene, performing at events such as the Buffalo Lounge at the SXSW Music Conference in Austin, Texas.
Even before the Sparklehorse cover, Colton was experimenting with new styles, collaborating with Blackwatch’s Jarod Evans and Chad Copelin on rerecorded and reimagined versions of songs from his first independent album, 2010′s “Pacific Coast Eyes.”
And last year, he released a collection of vintage-sounding California country-pop with singer-songwriter Lindsey Ray under the name Sooner the Sunset.
But with the upcoming “Lonely Ones,” Colton is trying to do something new at every level and bring fresh minds into his creative process. He is currently making a video for “Born to Raise Hell” with LAMAR+NIK, the Oklahoma-based music video production team that recently shot two videos for legendary alt-rock band Pixies.
Colton’s Centennial Plaza show is the kickoff date for a one-month U.S. tour with Bronze Radio Return. The tour will showcase the new songs, which he said reflect his new mindset.
“The residue is almost off me completely now from that whole major label, radio-driven, album-selling thing,” Colton said. “Now I’m comfortable in Oklahoma City, and if I don’t sell lots of records, I don’t sell lots of records. I’m not looking through the lens of 2007. I don’t have to be on ‘Letterman.’ I don’t have to tour with Dave Matthews. I’ve done that.”
“Basically, this show is the beginning of everything.”
— The Oklahoman