heavy metal

An Interview With Comfort Club!

Comfort Club Michigan-born Colin Tracey, who performs under the stage name Comfort Club, is an up and coming bedroom-pop artist from Southern California. His newest release, a full-length EP titled “If You’re Alright” released earlier this year, helped Tracey garner nearly half a million streams on his single, “New Ways To Miss You” and 25,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. Recently, Colin sat down with us here at TheGauntlet to bring you all an exclusive interview; discussing everything from COVID-19 in a digital age, to his success as an independent artist, and even the dangers of vegan cookie dough! To know why Colin Tracey is one of the fastest-growing underground artists of 2020, be sure to stream his music on your favorite music streaming platform and read about him below.

TG: First, how are you?
CC: Well thanks! I’m doing pretty well. I’ve sort of adopted this approach to living where I’m trying to take life day by day which applies pretty well to the good days and the bad days. Really just working on not getting too high or too low––and 2020 has been a great test.

TG: What’s been your proudest accomplishment in your musical career so far?
CC: The next song I have coming out is my proudest accomplishment. I can’t talk about it in a ton of depth which is a little frustrating but it’s one of the first things in my career that feels like validation from my peers. Getting to work in a collaborative environment with artists I look up to gave me that feeling of peer acceptance. It was an incredible experience to have a couple of my songs start to take off early in my career but getting validation from artists that inspire the music I'm making is maybe the greatest feeling in the world.

[Editor's note: Since the interview, it has been revealed that Comfort Club is releasing a collaboration single with musician Ritt Momney titled, “Tip Of The Iceberg” that will be available for streaming on December 2nd. Pre-save the single at the link below!]

TG: What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself during quarantine?
CC: I think I’ve kind of come face to face with how much my emotions can change day to day. I actually discovered that caffeine has a huge negative impact on my emotions. I sort of ran tests with myself and on the days where I was drinking caffeine, I was way more anxious and more irritable. It was tough going through the withdrawal process but I figured quarantine was the perfect time to do that. I napped a lot but that’s what it took to get through it.

TG: How would you describe your family members’ musical tastes when you were growing up? What would they listen to? Did growing up around that kind of music influence your sound now?
CC: I’d say a majority of what I was listening to when I was growing up was pop radio. So kind of whatever was popular in the early 2000s and 2010s. I think it was a good era of music to grow up on. There was a lot of good lyricism in that time window and that’s what I think I gravitated towards. I remember listening to Jack Johnson’s “In Between Dreams” quite a bit growing up and I think that was one of the albums I grew up on that most inspired my earliest songwriting. I also remember listening to Pearl Jam’s “Ten” a good amount too. That album was such a great example of songs that lyricism, music, and melody all just fit perfectly and that kind of set the gold standard for me.

TG: Since live music has been taken away from us for the time being, what would you say is the lesson to be learned?
CC: It’s a super simple lesson, but just to not take live music for granted. I mean COVID as a whole has taught us not to take life for granted but when applied to music, I think the lesson is to not take concerts for granted. I was supposed to see Adam Melchor live at the end of February and I skipped out on the concert because I was going out of town the next day and I wholeheartedly regret that because it has now been 9 months since I saw a live show. I hope that I’ll get to see live music again soon and I won’t ever skip out on a concert again.

TG: Now that you are a professional musician, would you say that you listen to others’ music differently? Do you pick up on certain things in songs that most people would overhear because you’re so involved in making music now?
CC: Haha I think that’s the first time I’ve ever been called a professional musician so thank you for that. Yeah, it’s honestly a little frustrating that now I listen to music way differently. I kind of see music from a production side of things and try to infer what the producer was doing. I think it’s the cost of doing business though. I’m hoping that someday I can get back to just enjoying music but for the time being I’m super happy to be training my ear and getting better at music while I’m listening.

TG: You’ve played quite a few “digital” shows and did a mini-tour on Zoom/Instagram live this past summer. By doing these types of shows, did your perspective change on live music trying to survive during the days of COVID-19?
CC: I thought that doing a mini-tour was the most creative idea ever. I tried to be the first person who did that and I didn’t see anyone else do it before I did but I’m sure a ton of people had the same idea. I think it’s a really tough situation. I couldn’t justify charging money for a virtual show because as a fan of music, most of what I’m paying for when I go see a live show is the environment and the energy. It’s hard to synthesize that over zoom or instagram live but I know some musicians need that income so I don’t blame them at all for selling tickets to online shows. It’s no secret that musicians don’t necessarily have steady income until they’re fully established so I think musicians are really resilient and good at finding ways to make ends meet. I just hope that nobody has to quit making music because of COVID.

TG: Now that we’ve resorted to doing digital shows when you hit the physical stage again, what’s gonna be new for you? What have you learned from doing online tours?
CC: Honestly, I never played a live show as Comfort Club so my whole vision for a live show is going to be new. I used to just play open mics or play shows in my friends’ band so I never got to actually design my own live show. I’m super excited to create the visual elements that go along with my music and I feel like I’m at a really good place with my catalog of music so I’m eager to start showing my music to new people. I think the best thing from doing online shows was seeing how my music is received in real time. It’s one thing to have people send a message and say they like a studio version of a song, but to see people clapping after a performance is one of the most incredible feelings. That’s real-time love.

TG: Your biggest single, “New Ways To Miss You” has over 100,000 streams on SoundCloud and almost half a million streams on Spotify and was well received by audiences. Do you feel that song deserved the amount of recognition it did? Do you think it deserved less? Are there any songs in your discography that you wished would have gotten as much recognition as “New Ways To Miss You” did?
CC: It’s an interesting concept to try to determine what level of recognition a song should get. I’ll just say that I think “New Ways to Miss You” is a song that is a good introduction to who I am as an artist. It’s got all of my signature elements on it so I think I’m lucky that it took off. I would be a little bummed if a song that was more experimental got popular but that song was 100% me. I got really lucky. And then obviously I would love for all of my songs to take off, but I think the only song that didn’t do as well as I wanted it to was “I tell my therapist about you.” I thought that was the most creative idea I ever had and I think it just didn’t get beyond my immediate fan base so it never really had a chance to take off. Maybe it’ll have a little bit of a resurgence once I start playing live shows but for the time being, I think it’s a cool deep cut.

TG: Do you think social media is as important for independent artists in the 21st as many people emphasize? In terms of marketing yourself?
CC: Yes 100%. I honestly think it would be really beneficial if people were more transparent about the fact that it takes money to get exposure in music. It’s a disservice to people starting out in the music industry to think that you can get anywhere without spending money. Simply stated, exposure costs money. I know there are instances where people blow up on something viral and get a ton of exposure for free but that shouldn’t ever be looked at as a business plan. And then I think social media should sort of be looked at as an ongoing tool to keep connected with the people who are supporting you.

TG: What’s the most trouble you’ve gotten into this year?
CC: Let me tell you, vegan cookie dough is so dangerous. I’ve always been a fan of responsible consumption of raw cookie dough but since I went vegan, I thought I had more wiggle room for eating unhealthy food. I’ll just say I need to definitely pump the brakes on the vegan cookie dough.

TG: What does your sound setup consist of? Can you tell me about some of your equipment?
CC: For my live setup, I use my laptop to play backing tracks which are actually the same tracks that are on the recordings. I run those through logic and then I just play electric guitar and sing. I tend to play either my John Mayer signature stratocaster or this new Fender Telecaster I got. I have a couple pedals for overdrive, delay, and tremolo and then I run those through a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe amp. It’s a pretty simple setup but I think it’s super effective for the sound and image I’m going for. I’d say at this point in my career I’m 95% DIY. I don’t want to discredit anyone else's efforts in my career but I try to keep as much of the weight on my shoulders as possible and that mindset spills over into my live setup. I think it’s really financially practical to be a one-man show because then I can afford to play in just about any setting as long as I can get myself and my gear there.

TG: On your most recent EP, “If You’re Alright” where do you feel you pushed your boundaries the most? Are you completely satisfied with the album knowing what you know now about music-making?
CC: I definitely pushed myself on the production. I completely wrote, recorded, and produced that EP. That project was 100% me which is an incredible accomplishment. At the time, I think I did the very best I could do. I made sure I took my time on everything and didn’t cut any corners with my abilities. It just came time to call it done and I’m super proud of it. I think I could do a little better with the production now, but I don’t think it’s necessarily bad work. I’m really proud of the songwriting on it. I think I tackled some really personal topics on that EP so I’m super proud of myself for that.

TG: How do you balance your music with all your other obligations?
CC: At the moment, I don’t really have a ton of obligations. I moved back in with my parents and with COVID, I haven’t been working so I have just been focusing on music and mental health. I kind of think that balancing fewer things is a little bit harder. There’s no distraction from music which has been tough for me. I think I thrive with more variety in my life and I definitely write better songs when I’m not living the same day over and over again.

TG: Have you ever had any run-ins with ghosts/ghouls/or spirits?
CC: Gosh, I can’t really say I’ve ever had any that I can think of. I don’t want to necessarily say I don’t believe in that type of thing but I’m hoping I make it through life without any run ins. I’m undoubtedly a scaredy cat so any type of supernatural experience would rock my world.

TG: What’s next for Comfort Club?
CC: I’ve had a couple sessions with songwriters I look up to and I cannot wait to get those songs out. I think those are going to be a statement for me in the indie music scene. I’ve looked up to these artists for a couple years now so it’s really cool to actually work with them and get a product that I can put out. In my longer term plan, I’m moving to LA in early 2021 and hoping these songs open a couple more doors for me so I can keep growing. It’s a slow process but I’m just trying to keep making the most out of each opportunity I get and hopefully those opportunities lead to more. I genuinely love what I’m doing and I feel blessed to get to keep doing it every day.

Don’t forget to check out Comfort Club’s newest single, “Falling In Love” released this past August, below!

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    November 28, 2020

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