As most lovers of heavy are quick to tell you, there is nothing like a band who knows when to stop dicking around and when to cut to the chase to deliver the goods. We have a near-unlimited supply of heavy metal in this day and age, but it is a rare to find bands who give you that fine balance of energy, power, and a shameless love for all things fantastical, while also maintaining a sense of precision, fun, and general badassery. Some lay it down slow and low, others pack a hard, fast punch with speedy riffs, galloping rhythms and lightning leads. North Carolina’s Colossus are certainly the latter. After a solid hard-partying decade of slaying stages alongside groups like Slough Feg, Skeleton Witch andValient Thorr, Colossus is currently celebrating their 10 year anniversary with a new video, titled “YOU DIED.” I caught up with the band’s vocalist, Sean Buchanan, and their drummer, Milton “Doza” Hawes, to discuss the good times they’ve had as a band, and their hilariously demented video, (which features possibly the best deathride through hell ever imagined.)
Sludgelord: So Colossus has been going strong for 10 years now. Congratulations! Most bands don't even make it for half of that. What's kept you all together for so long?
Sean: Honestly we just really enjoy what we do and our fans have always been super supportive of it. We also all get along really well, the days of band fights are long behind us.
Doza: I think it comes down to the fact that we have a shitload of fun together. Our music is in the spirit of fun, which is really an extension of the fun we have together as people, and those good vibes naturally branch out to our fans. We love hanging out and bullshitting, riding around between cities in the van, recording in the studio-- it's always a killer time and none of us want it to stop!
Sludgelord: Your new video is a rocking tune, is really well made, and is damn funny. Humor seems to be a big part of what Colossus is all about. What would you say is the most hilarious memory for you guys as a band?
Sean: Man, there are so so many. Not sure how many would translate but I do remember one time we went to a party after a show and nobody there had actually been to our show. When they realized we didn’t know anybody there they kicked us out. Our previous drummer Ben Smith decided to take off his shirt outside and then wander around inside pretending to look for it while we all watched through a big plate glass window. Then when he came back out the guy who lived there followed him and was like, “Oh you guys are friends with Shirtless Dude? Come on inside!” That was pretty damn funny.
Doza: Humor definitely is a big part of what we do, not that we make joke songs per se, but we have a damn good time and are one of the few metal bands that smiles onstage. There are so many ridiculous memories, it's hard to pick one, but the Colossus Challenge always brings out some hilarious moments. It works like this: If someone can beat each band member at a test, either physical or mental, they win a prize. We had a literal giant challenge us recently, a very drunk 7 plus foot tall metalhead with long hair and a sweet GWAR tattoo. He had to beat Ry, our bass player in a beer chugging contest. He lost. And then projectile vomited. All over me. I got puked on by a giant?! Yes I did. It really happened.
Sludgelord: The people of Raleigh definitely love to party with Colossus. Since you guys are an active touring band, what other cities would you say people have really gotten into you guys?
Sean: We have a ton of awesome friends all over but I think some of the largest concentrations of fans are in Detroit, Columbus, Athens, Wilmington, Austin to name a few. Our buddies in all those places always hook us up with fun shows and crazy times.
Doza: Wilmington NC is incredible. So many great bands and music lovers down there that really support us. Same for Athens GA, amazing town and people. New York has been most welcoming of Colossus. Columbus Ohio is always a blast. Detroit Michigan is home to our kindred spirits, the Beggars. We try to tour at least once a year with those awesome dudes. They aren't necessarily a metal band, but they completely rule and our shows mesh perfectly.
Sludgelord: Maiden seems to be an obvious influence for Colossus. What other bands have inspired you?
Sean: I heard the Lord Weird Slough Feg’s (Now simply know as Slough Feg) Atavism on a trip out to California shortly before the band formed and later realized how much it had inspired me. Always been heavily influenced by Rob Halford’s golden pipes, and although I can’t sing like him I’ve always respected Dio’s lyrical skills.
Doza: As a drummer, I'm super into Cozy Powell, especially his work with Rainbow. Vinny Appice, either with Sabbath or Dio, is probably my greatest influence. He has incredible feel and the way he throws firework barrage drum fills into a song is just perfection. Before I do anything with Colossus, I always check out Scott Travis. His modern interpretations of older Priest songs are so on point for me.
Sludgelord: Doza, you also played briefly with the doom legends, Hour of 13, and also toured and recorded with Bloody Hammers. Both killer bands, but both very stylistically different from Colossus. From a musician's standpoint, do you feel it benefits you to try different things?
Doza: Thanks for the kind words about Hour of 13 and Bloody Hammers, much appreciated. It has been an honor to play with each of those bands. I have gotten to play some amazing shows with both of them, the 2014 European tour that Bill (guitarist of Colossus) and I did with Bloody Hammers was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I learned a ton about touring and playing huge shows. Download festival was amazing. Musically, it's definitely made me a better musician to branch out and play with different bands. Colossus is 110%, full blast the entire time, whereas the other bands I have played with have been on the doomier side of the spectrum, with slower tempos and more air in the songs. I love both!
Sludgelord: Colossus has played with many great bands throughout the years. You recently played an after party for Mastodon, Graveyard, and Clutch, and have an upcoming gig with Nashville Pussy. Who are some your favorite bands that you've played with?
Sean: The big shows are a blast but most of my favorite memories are of bands that are fun to tour with like The Beggars, Thunderlip and recently Sunshine State.
Doza: We've played with so many killer bands!! Valient Thorr - Those dudes put on a hell of a show and they're super awesome people as well. Slough Feg -This show happened before I joined the band and I hope to get to play with them some day, they're a huge influence on Colossus! He is Legend - We played with them at the Soapbox in Wilmington and there was a line around the block to get in. Sold out show! Also: The Beggars from Detroit, Savagist from GA, White Tiger and the Bed of Roses, Salvacion, Thunderlip, and the rest of the Wilmington, NC scene. Demon Eye, Solar Halos, Caltrop, and the amazing Raleigh/Triangle NC Metal scene. Despite all the challenges of this day and age for musicians, great music is still happening and we're proud to get to play with these killer bands.
Sludgelord: One thing I love about you guys is your shameless love for fantasy and sci-fi. Your songs reference everything from Conan to Dune to the Song of Ice and Fire. As kids who grew up during the '80s, the time when a major fantasy/sci-fi boom was happening, was there a particular film or book that has truly resonated with you? What would you say is your all-time favorite and why?
Sean: I have yet to write a song about it because the final book hasn’t come out yet but I can’t wait to read The Doors of Stone by Patrick Rothfuss and then write a song about The Kingkiller Chronicles. It’s some bad ass fantasy, I highly recommend it. And he’s not a billion years old so hopefully he’ll actually put out the last book! Also reading the Wheel of Time and pretty excited about doing a song or two from there.
Doza: For movies, it was Conan the Barbarian. That is still one of my favorite movies of all time. It's perfect. Next would be the animated Tolkien movies. Those blew my mind as a kid, as did the Last Unicorn. I have posters of Krull, Ice Pirates, and Solarbabies in my practice room. I was an avid reader as a kid, and CS Lewis really spoke to me. I read all the Narnia books, 7 I think? And his Space Trilogy is really fun, I've read that over and over. I love older Sci Fi that was written before the scientific breakthroughs of the 20th century. What they imagined back then was so much cooler than what actually happened. Currently, I'm reading Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, by Fritz Leiber. These books are hilarious barbarian adventure stories and have influenced several Colossus songs.
Sludgelord: So what's next for Colossus?
Sean: We are planning to film a live concert DVD for the bands 10th anniversary this fall so fans who have never seen Colossus can experience the live show. We’ll be bringing back some past band members to perform, should be a fun time. And we also are working on finishing a new full length that should be out soon.
Sludgelord: Anything else you'd like to add?
Sean: Thanks to Sludgelord for premiering the video! Hope you guys like it and check out our website to for any news about upcoming releases and tours!
Doza: On behalf of Colossus I'd like to extend a huge thanks to Jonny Gillette, who did a tremendous amount of work on our video for "You Died." He came up with the concept, produced, directed, and edited the video, and is an all around awesome dude! Also Sherri Di Fillipo put in countless hours building our cave set and doing some ultra rad claymation. Finally a huge thanks to all our friends and fans who came out and got weird with us, this video was a huge blast to make, we hope you enjoy it!
Check out the premiere of ‘You Died’. Enjoy!