Rediscover David Bowie’s Slow Burn with Films of Colour
When Films of Colour released David Bowie’s Slow Burn as a cover, Bowie’s fans loved it. Their version was so successful, they attracted the attention of legendary producer Tony Visconti.
Formed three years ago, Films of Colour is an English alternative rock band. In 2010 their first single Actions was used as backing music for X Factor winner Matt Cardle. Actions was produced/mixed by Duncan Mills, who worked with Florence and the Machine. Since then, the band has been compared to acts such as Radiohead, Muse and Coldplay.
The funny and dynamic band answered our questions.
Hi, Films of Colour! So, how did the band form?
Hello there! We formed back in early 2008 at our university in Guildford where we all attended. Andy (vocals) and James (guitar) met whilst staying at the YMCA and found themselves at the soon-to-be drummer’s house – James RF, having an impromptu “jam”. After meeting at a football match, the band recruited bass man – Jack.
What made you choose the name, Films of Colour?
The name originates from an Aldous Huxley essay called Heaven and Hell – an extremely vivid account of one man’s experience on mescaline.
What genre do you consider your music to be? Who are your major influences?
The hardest question for a band – fact! In terms of genre, I guess we’d be in the Indie/Electronic/Rock category. We have quite a mish-mash of influences, but as a collective we all love Radiohead, Miike Snow, Bombay Bicycle club and Foals. There are also a lot of unsigned bands who we like that we have gigged with in the past: The Stowaways, Eastern Walls, A Stranger in Moscow, Aloosh.
Why did you choose David Bowie’s ‘Slow Burn’ of all songs?
It is indeed an obscure choice of song but that is why we chose it! The Thin White Duke has done some incredible songs, and for us to attempt to cover one of his huge hits (Starman, Space Oddity, Changes etc) just wouldn’t do him justice. Harmonically, Slow Burn is very Films of Colour, so we thought it would be a great song to try to make our own.
How did you alter the song?
Our version of Slow Burn, on the whole, is kept fairly true to the original. It’s structurally, harmonically and melodically very similar. The biggest changes we made were to the feel and the rhythm section. We sped it up significantly, put quite a drum & bass influenced beat on it and heavy driving bass and drum parts in the chorus. Essentially, we just played the song as though it was our own, putting it through the same process that we go through for any song that we write.
How does it feel to have Toni Visconti show such interest in the band?
Tony is a music production legend. He produced and played on the original Slow Burn recording, so when we heard he loved the track it was an absolute honour. We welcome and enjoy all enthusiasm. It was particularly exciting, and kind of relieving, when we received positive feedback from Bowie fans after releasing the track on BowieNet. Trying to convince people, who are fans of the original track, to like our version was always going to be the biggest challenge, but it seemed to go well!
Will you be doing any work with Visconti in the future?
Tony has come over to see us in the UK and we have had talks about recording an album… It’s in the “pipeline”…
What are rehearsals like?
We all tend to come in having worked on some ideas outside the rehearsal room. I remember, with the Slow Burn cover, Andy had really strong ideas regarding what we should do with the track. He had worked on a lot of the electronic elements of the track and recorded them too. When someone comes in that prepared, it just sets the wheels in motion, rather than wasting rehearsal time going through the thinking process that can be done at home. We then all have our input and come up with our individual parts and it all develops from there.
I understand you released your cover song as a free download. What was the reason behind this?
We wanted to reach as many people as we could with this track, so getting it on Bowie.com as a free download was the best way of doing that. Everyone likes free stuff!
Do you release any of your other music in the same manner, as in free downloads?
We give away tracks occasionally, but we’d never done a proper free release like this before. It’s something that seems to be getting more and more common, but we don’t really have a problem with it. A couple of weeks ago I read an article written by Pete Townshend for The Guardian online. He was talking about people downloading music illegally, but it is true for giving music away too – “a creative person would prefer their music to be stolen and enjoyed than ignored”.
How do you feel about music control/censorship in general?
Controlled and censored!
Are you working on any new material at the moment?
We are indeed. We haven’t ever stopped working on new material to be honest. We’ve got more than enough material for a few albums now, but we don’t want to settle on anything yet. New songs are fresh and exciting. And you know what they say: a band has a life time to write the first album, but only a couple of months to write the next. So if we keep writing, hopefully we’ll be prepared to avoid that trap!
When you’re not working on music, what does the band like to get up to?
Nando’s. We like Nando’s a lot. But who doesn’t? When we’re not writing or gigging, we like brie, planes, films, talking cats on Youtube and roast dinners. I think that’s everything.
Any UK gigs or tours soon?
We are playing Koko on 2nd December for Club NME and we just supported the Parlotones at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire which was amazing. We are planning a little trip to the US of A next year, so watch this space.
What are your hopes for the near future?
Our end goal, just like most bands, is to write, record and release an album and gig all around the world to promote it. Hopefully that, or some of that, will occur in the near future.
Thank you Films of Colour!
Like Films of Colour on Facebook and get Films of Colour’s version of Slow Burn for free. The song will be released on 5th December on their official website.