EXCLUSIVE: “WE RECORDED AN EVANESCENCE COVER”- OUTLINE IN COLOR DISCUSS NEW EP AND THEIR DECADE-LONG CAREER
Ten years is a long time in music. Some bands never even make it past their third album. Trends change like the seasons. Make or break is a fairly relative term here– but for Outline In Color, the steps to get them in the healthy, collected headspace they’re in now wAS literally a do or die situation.
Now sitting on their new EP and fifth overall release Imposter Syndrome, Michael and Jonathan detail their music careers, Imposter Syndrome‘s inner workings and even an Evanescence cover that will apparently never see the light of day.
So, tell me about the ‘Imposter Syndrome’. What are its symptoms so to speak?
Michael: Crippling self doubt, isolationism, projection, and misplaced anger are the big ones I think. Imposter Syndrome is when you are good at something, but there’s a voice inside your head that tells you you’re not good enough, or that you’re a fraud.
Jonathan: Like for example, a musician on tour that never feels like they’re actually a real touring musician, or feels like they don’t belong for some reason when that’s the place they undoubtedly should be.
Michael: Or even being in a relationship where you never feel like you’re enough for your partner.
You’ve both been in Outline In Color for the majority of your careers. Michael, in your case you’ve been with the band from the beginning and filled almost every position at some point (keyboards, bass guitar, now vocals). Feeling a lack of stability or confidence in your position isn’t a strange idea even when you’ve ‘earned your place’. Is that right?
Michael: *laughs* Yeah, I’ve always gone where I’m needed. I grew up playing all kinds of instruments in high school band, and drums in a string of local bands prior to OIC. I’ve always been fairly versatile, but I’ve kind of always viewed myself as pretty mediocre across the board *laughs*.
For me imposter syndrome isn’t necessarily logical. One moment I’ll feel super creative, capable, and confident in my abilities. Then others seemingly for no reason, I’ll feel insecurity. It’s something that’s kind of shadowed every area of my life. I’ve just kinda learn to rock with it.
A sort of bipolar mindset it seems. However, listening to the EP, sonically, that hardly seeps through. ‘Imposter Syndrome’ is a consistent body of work and feels contemporary in approach. This is a new sound for OIC yet much more dynamic.
Michael: You nailed it! It’s kind of funny, we’ve always had the singing/screaming or pretty/scary kind of dynamic. These songs are more melodically contrasting vocally. It’s an approach we’ve never taken before, but I agree entirely. I think the newer sound is more dynamic. Jon and I really try to compliment each other instead of showing each other up.
Jonathan it’s great to have you back in the band and I love the current set-up.
Jonathan: Thank you! It’s great to be back. It’s where I need to be.
The chemistry between you both is fluid despite this being the first release with this vocal setup. I found that really impressive.
Michael: I think that’s largely because there is no animosity within the band. We honestly are getting along better than we ever have. There’s no egos. We are all on the page and just want to make bad ass music and play shows.
Jonathan: Absolutely. We all have a great vibe, and work well together. We all want the band to be the best it can be, and not try to overshadow or do anything of the sort. I like the dynamic Skaggs and I have going on. The contrast to me works great.
We touched on the fact that there is another EP that parallels ‘Imposter Syndrome’ that has also been recorded. Knowing that this EP was more melodic and atmospheric with a few heavy songs thrown in, will the next EP be the exact opposite?
Jonathan: I think it’s a little of the same vibe with a little more floor to ceiling dynamics than the first EP, and a little bit of different as well. One song “Today’s Western” is one of the most different songs we’ve ever made about big pharma, but definitely a head bob. There’s also a ballad on the 2nd EP.
Michael: I could see given the two ep’s why you’d think that, but actually EP2 is right in line with EP1. We wrote all the songs at the same time, but after speaking with our release partner we determined that 2 EP’s was the best way to utilize the marketing resources available to us
What Jon said— every song has its own “vibe,” but the also have some sort of glue that makes them cohesive.
You’re highly optimistic about the current era of the band. That optimism was most certainly born from the climb of getting to where you are at the moment. What would you say is different about Outline In Color now, both musically and in terms of chemistry and headspace?
Michael: To be perfectly honest man, I’ve been happy running point for OIC all these years and playing back up, but it’s always been my dream to be a front man. Since I was a kid I just wanted to sing. My insecurities and lack of confidence made it easy for me to accept being in an auxiliary position. I was developing another project last year where I was fronting with another guy, and I was really working to find my own “voice”. I kind of got thrown into the vocals thing last year right before a tour. Having to step up last minute kicked my ass in shape, and empowered me to start writing for Imposter Syndrome.
We don’t have any ill will or negative feelings towards any ex members, but the current iteration of the band just gets along. It’s made it possible to believe anything’s possible again. It’s no secret that some of our past members have struggled with substance abuse (we put out an album about it), but that isn’t a factor for us right now. Which takes a lot of pressures and fears out of the equation.
Jonathan: We’re all open to try everything we feel like we want to do with music, no matter how we think it could sound to other people. For me, I feel like if I want to do any style of vocals everyone is open to it, some of it even having an R&B feel, at least to me anyway. The same goes for Skaggs. I feel like we have a better, and more clear vision of how to develop, and work a song into what we feel like will work for us. When we were faced with a lineup change, we just made things happen into how Outline is now. We all have the absolute most support for each other ever.
It’s true. In certain songs on Impostor Syndrome, I heard an inflection similar to Loz from While She Sleeps, in others I was getting, coincidentally, Kyle Lucas vibes.
Michael: Yea I definitely came up on hip hop and metal. I love being able to combine my two passions in our own kind of brand.
We just did a song with a dubstep artist coming out on Slugz (label) that you would never expect from us. But it’s a ripper for sure.
‘Imposter Syndrome’ doesn’t have a title track so with that in mind, which song would you consider to be the one that best gets its point across?
Michael: Man that’s really tough. I’d say Breaking The Silence. I feel like that song is a good balance between the heavier and more commercial sounds we’ve been brewing.
There’s another song on EP2 I feel the same way about.
It is so refreshing to see a musician that is self-aware and smart enough to know when they are being commercial or not.
Michael: Aww thanks man. We’ve been a band for ten years. We aren’t trying to be any sort of band right now. We just want to love what we are doing. Jon and I have the palette for pop and metal. Everything in between is fair game. Like I don’t particularly love country, but I wouldn’t even be opposed to collaborating with a country artist. I’m loosely related to Ricky Skaggs, maybe we do a bluegrass collab *laughs*.
I’d say you’re just smart for knowing when to make a song with that potential pull. That’s a timely move.
Michael: Our last single, “Punishment,” we felt was a very “XM Octane” vibe. Some people might hate on that. We thought it was a good way to bring a new demographic to our music. You know the more we grow the more I realize that the things that we perceive as big opportunities aren’t typically the things that make people that don’t know much about music impressed *laughs*. Something like popping up in Home Depot would be way bigger to someone like my dad, than us touring with a band like Bring Me The Horizon or something, ‘ya know?
Totally, it’s very generational and that’s why which moves you make are so vital
Michael: I appreciate that man! I think a lot of people are afraid to try something different. I’ve been ridiculed my whole life for being odd. So it doesn’t really shake me anymore.
What are you hoping ‘Imposter Syndrome’ (along with its companion EP) does for Outline In Color
Michael: The next step man! We’ve been a band ten years. We know how to bide our time and be patient. We are making bigger moves than we’ve ever made before, and we are definitely planning to keep upping the anty.
So does that mean no more Lady Gaga covers? *laughs*
Michael: I wouldn’t say that. We actually just covered an Australian artist’s song that no one will ever guess.
We recorded a cover of Evanescence “Bring Me To Life” that will never come out *laughs*.
Jonathan: We always leave the door open to have the potential to cover any good song we feel like covering.
What is an album you’ve listened to in 2020 that no one would expect has influenced you?
Michael: Starset’s newest album has definitely been on repeat for me. Hip Hop Caviar on Spotify is on daily rotation too.
Jonathan: A big one people don’t expect from me is probably either Nothing, Nowhere, or Chase Atlantic. I’ve been branching out lately with a bunch of stuff. Architects has [also] been a big jam of mine lately.
Lastly, what have you both been up to during COVID and can the fans expect any live streams before the end of Summer?
Michael: We are working right now on a live show for stream. Hoping ASAP. Was supposed to shoot next week, but it got delayed.
Jonathan: Both of the EP’s somehow had impeccable timing and we finished it up 3/9, so it was right when the pandemic started. We’ve talked about doing acoustic songs on and off, so I figured out how to do the single we just put out at the time Ghost of You as acoustic. Then we remembered that we had a song KC had done on piano, and turned that into a duet for some fan service stuff we knew people would like. Other than than I was off work for a couple of months, had a minor sinus surgery which went well, and went back to work recently since touring isn’t a thing right now.
Also lots of video games. I played so much animal crossing my controller doesn’t work as well anymore *laughs*.