I first heard Colin Boyd shortly after moving to Dallas in the early ’90s and was immediately charmed. His songs had all the elements I look for in a pop artist. They were melodic, witty, heartbreaking, literate. And he wasn’t an international superstar (just our local star), so you could see him perform without fighting through a phalanx of drunks at an amphitheater. That’s not so easy anymore. Last weekend, Dallas’ less-kept secret packed downtown’s City Tavern for a CD-release party, and let’s say the crowd was enthusiastic.
Colin played a breadth of tunes that included songs from Shine, along with covers that showed a reverence for his country and rock elders. Shine is his first collection of originals in a dozen years (click here to listen to clips from the disc). This week we sat down, keyboard-to-keyboard, for an enlightening e-mail exchange:
How does it feel to put out your first album of new material in 12 years?
It feels great. When I finished and released Sincerity in 1997, I used some money I made from Barney the dinosaur to start getting some recording equipment. That slowly turned into the idea of not just recording only demos but recording my next CD myself, and not spending a lot of money in the studio. I actually started my new CD a few times and abandoned the recordings. I would get frustrated with a number of things — my own performances, my recording skills (or lack thereof), and the musicians would get frustrated that I wouldn’t finish anything.
So I started recording other people, I made a Christmas CD, I took vocal lessons for two years, I started playing more electric guitar, and I wrote more songs. Then I felt like I could start a CD and finish it. And I feel like it won’t take me so long now between making new music. That feels extra good.
Not so fast. Barney the dinosaur?
Yes, Barney. A guy named Tim Clott wanted to know if I’d like to try to write some kids songs with him. He worked for Lyrick Studios, Barney’s owner, and thought if we got something good it might get used in Barney’s movie Barney’s Great Adventure. We wrote a song called “Rainbows Follow The Rain.” If you see the movie and watch the ending credits roll by, Stephen Bishop sings a tune and then I sing one. You can hear the tune on iTunes music store. It’s credited to Barney, but it’s me singing. It paid pretty well for a little while.
You wrote a hit for Jack Ingram too, right?
At the time we thought of it as a hit. “Make My Heart Flutter” a.k.a. “Flutter” (they shortened the title) made it to No. 51 on the Billboard country charts in 1997. 51 was good for me and for Jack at the time. But now Jack has some No 1s. I need one of those.
What are the potential hits on Shine? Tell us about the new album and how it’s different from your past work.
I don’t know that I’m a good judge of what a “hit” is. But having said that, I think “Another Heart to Break” or “He’s Just Not That Into You” would do well with many big country artists. I do also like my recordings, though. As far as marketing myself, I think whatever a hit is might be open to interpretation. But I could do some good things with “Tasty Sweet,” “Magic Trick,” “Understand” and “Let’s Trash the Place.” For “Tasty Sweet” in particular (written with Sara Hickman), I’d like to make a video for the Web. The sound and the lyrics, to me, are screaming for that.
I’ll probably sound pretty analytical describing what makes this album different from my previous ones. But aside from whatever technical difference it makes that I recorded everything myself, I think the singing performances and the songwriting are more mature and I’m happy about that. When I put the album together, I made a conscious attempt to have a variety of interesting styles. Artists are warned by people in the industry to have a consistent, defining style throughout an album, that otherwise people won’t understand it and you can’t sell it. I decided that since that tact had not made me a world-famous artist by now, and because I’m in my 40s, I might as well just make exactly what I want — many styles, songs of different lengths, and fun.
You lost your voice a couple years back. What happened and how did you recover?
I guess I was working too hard and not listening to my body tell me to take a break. I was singing six nights a week in various barroom/restaurant situations. I felt like I knew how to sing correctly so I didn’t think I could be causing any damage. But one day when I was very fatigued, my voice just gave out. I lost nearly two octaves off the top. Eventually the doctor was able to tell me that I had developed hyperfunctional voice, that it was not my vocal chords but the muscles which work them that were stressed. He said I needed time off and a vocal therapist. I did both and am fine now. But I don’t work my voice as hard now — one thing I’ve started doing is I play guitar with others while making a living in Dallas.
Now that I’ve got a new CD, I’d like to use it to get in front of some bigger audiences — in particular, I’d like to play festivals around the country. And in other countries.
And I’d like to make CDs quicker. I’ve already finished recording the next one — an all-acoustic disc recorded at Sun Studio in Memphis. It’s a mix of new and old tunes. Some people through the years have asked for a CD of just my voice and guitar. No release date on that but soon. And I need to get more of my tunes recorded by others.