Blending equal parts southern-inspired rock with a heavy dose of the blues, Chris Colepaugh and the Cosmic Crew have rightfully earned a reputation for crowd-pleasing, hard-driving rock. The multiple award-winning group, fronted by guitar virtuoso Chris Colepaugh, has spent more than two decades actively touring Canada and the United States, supporting acts including Gov’t Mule, The North Mississippi All Stars and Big Sugar. The group’s latest effort, RnR, pays homage to the stripped down rock and roll of years past, but with modern touches. Chris Colepaugh is proudly endorsed by Gibson Guitars, Black Bridge Amplifiers, Benrod Pedals, Jetslide and Sennheiser Microphones.
As the old adage goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but still, New Brunswick’s Chris Colepaugh looked to change things up when he approached the making of RnR, the first studio release from his namesake band, The Cosmic Crew, in six years.
Colepaugh’s move could be construed as a risky one. After all, he is the proud recipient of multiple East Coast Music Awards, and deservedly earned sponsorships from music industry heavyweights Gibson Guitars, Traynor Amplifiers and Sennheiser Microphones. Not to mention, his work as part of Roch Voisine’s band over the last six years has exposed Colepaugh’s talent to tens of thousands of fans across Canada and Europe.
While Colepaugh has undoubtedly earned some RnR in the form of rest and relaxation, the RnR referred to in the name of his latest record has very much to do with rock and roll.
“This time around, I wanted to approach the making of the album differently from what I had done in the past,” Colepaugh says. “The making of previous albums typically revolved around us combing through various demos and piecing together what we felt would make for the most coherent record.”
“I’ve loved the eclectic nature of our previous albums and how they showcased an acoustic side of the band as well as a more rock-driven side. With this album, I had a clear vision of what I wanted right from the outset, which was to make a straight-ahead rock and roll record.”
Crafting a record he would be eager to listen to as a fan forced Colepaugh to pore over the finest of details during the songwriting process and saw the musician fiddling with tempos, grooves and guitar tones in an unprecedented approach for song perfection.
When all was said and done, RnR was intermittently birthed over the course of a one-year period, from November 2014 through November 2015. The process proved to be a sharp contrast to previous Chris Colepaugh & The Cosmic Crew albums, many of which were captured over the course of one month or less.
“It was refreshing to be able to step away from the making of the album at different points over the course of the year and evaluate where I was at. That’s the great thing about having your own studio to work out of. If I wasn’t happy with a particular guitar tone or solo, or if something didn’t strike me as living up to its full potential, I’d sit with it for a couple of weeks, clear my head and then re-approach it with fresh eyes and ears.”
The end result is an album that Colepaugh says is perhaps most representative of the band’s stage and studio abilities. He proudly notes that RnR is one of the group’s first studio effort from which all tracks could be (and most likely will be) played during the band’s fiery live performances.
From the frantic, punk-inspired guitar riff that drives “The Ghosts” through the blues revelations found in “My World,” “All These Faces,” and album opener “Stateless,” RnR wastes no time in reaffirming the record’s title.
Interestingly enough, three of RnR’s tracks – “One Time Friend,” “By Your Side,” and “Thinking About You” – are each nuggets from Colepaugh’s storied past, all of which have been finally realized for the potential that he was confident they held all along.
“’One Time Friend’ has been around since the 90’s, but just honestly fell off the radar in favour of other songs. I always loved it though and felt now was a great time to revisit it. ’By Your Side’ was written during a period I was living in California, where I was staying with a friend,” Colepaugh continues. “I had originally intended to go there and find inspiration to write a whole slew of tracks, only to arrive at an impasse where nothing was coming to me. I got up one morning, was sitting on the porch and this song just poured out of me, effectively ending the bout of writers block I had been trying to work through. ‘Thinking About You’ previously appeared on our Mazes and Mirrors release in 1997, and reappears here with a completely different vibe to it.”
Capping off RnR is a faithful cover of “When My Baby’s Beside Me,” a track written by Memphis cult favourites Big Star, appearing on their 1974 release #1 Record.
“I’ve been a Big Star fan for awhile, but it was after seeing the documentary on the group that it really dawned on me how they never really got their due. So many acts get lost in the fray. Not only does ‘When My Baby’s Beside Me’ suit the overarching theme of RnR, the thought of somebody else discovering Big Star is reason enough to have included it here.”
RnR will be released on January 29th both digitally and physically in stores. You can find out more about upcoming tour dates and events on their website and social media.
Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival (NB), International Mosaique Festival (NB), Contact East (NS), Music New Brunswick (NB), East Coast Music Awards (televised), Atlantic Film Festival (NS), Minglefest (NS), Evolve Music Festival (NS), extensive national tours of Canada (CA), Morefee Mountain Music Festival (BC), CBC Television Great Canadian Music Dream (CA), North By North East (ON), Canadian Music Week (ON), Northern Lights Music Festival (ON), Canada Games (NB), South By Southwest (Texas, US), Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival (California, US), Folk Alliance (Memphis, US), Midpoint Music Festival Blues (Cincinnati, US), United States Tour with the Grammy nominated North Mississippi Allstars (US), House of Blues (Boston, US), NEMO Festival (Boston, US), Hardrock Cafe Biker Fest (Boston, US), touring United States Pacific coast, New England, Eastern and Central US.
– Nominated 2012 East Coast Music Awards (ECMA) Group
– Nominated 2012 ECMA Producer
– Winner 2011 Music New Brunswick (MNB) SOCAN Songwriter
– Winner 2011 ECMA Fan Choice
– Winner 2011 ECMA Rock Album
– Winner 2010 MNB Musician of the Year
– Winner 2010 MNB Rock Album
– Winner of 2010 Toronto Music Magazine Award
– Nominated 2009 ECMA Entertainer
– Nominated 2008 ECMA Single “Caught Up To You”
– Winner 2007 Contact East Touring Excellence Award
– Nominated 2007 ECMA Rock Album
– Semi-Finalist 2007 Starbucks Music Maker Competition (Vermont)
– Sponsored by Gibson Guitars, Traynor Amplifiers and Sennheiser Microphones
– Chosen in 2004 by Canadian Musician Magazine as one of Canada’s best unsigned bands
– Grand Prize Winner 2002 NB songwriting competition
– Finalist in the CBC Great Canadian Music Dream televised performance
– East coast talent search winner with producer Kevin Scott MacMichael (Robert Plant)