No Sinner Interview - Colleen Rennison
You can certainly spot a star when you see one. When Colleen Rennison enters the room, there is something special you can immediately perceive; her smile, that force-of-nature attitude, her whole presence can bright any room she walks in. Colleen is today with us to talk about No Sinner (her surname spelled backwards), the debut album and her great, insane passion for music.
Gio - Colleen, thank you so much for being with us tonight! Boo Hoo Hoo is a fantastic debut album, a straight-in-your-face blues/rock record. Is the album a true mirror of your major musical influences?
Colleen - I think so; you can definitely hear influences in there and they are all coming from me. It's a very honest album, you know; what you are hearing from your speakers it comes straight from my heart and as cheesy as that sounds, it's the truth.
Gio - When you started writing the songs that ended up on Boo Hoo Hoo, did you have already a clear idea of what direction your music was going to take?
Colleen - I have always been attracted to the same kind of music since I was a little girl, you know, stuff like gospel, soul, blues and that was the only type of music I really ever wanted to write and known how to write. It wasn't a particularly conscious decision, it was just natural, that was the direction that I wanted.
Gio - How difficult is for you personally to juggle your acting career with being now a full-time musician?
Colleen - It's difficult... It's really difficult; actually I am about to put an audition on tape because I am not able physically to be at the real audition. Acting just needs to take a backseat for a while; with music, you have to rise to the occasion and it is so time sensitive. So I figured, acting will be always there for me and the music is here for me right now so this is the thing I put the most attention to.
Gio - We know that you are a great fan of the Motown Era and their artists; is there any particular female artist that inspired your singing style the most?
Colleen - Oh gosh.. I mean, I would need to say Aretha Franklin; she wasn't a Motown artist but Aretha Franklin has been conscientiously my biggest influence for sure.
(Gio) Any particular reason why?
Colleen - For her range, her delivery, her subject matter... I mean, she is the Queen Of Soul, it's hard to put your finger on why she is so special.. Nobody does it like her!
Gio - Rise Up is a magnificent ballad and one of the most poignant moment of Boo Hoo Hoo; is it likely to be one of the next singles to come out of the album?
Colleen - I would like that very much; I think it shows a different side, much softer, more spiritual side than the stompy blues-rock that No Sinner brings to the table. It's a song that means a lot to me and people seem to really react well to it; I hope it's the next single!
Gio - The band has been touring now for a while and you have been in Europe last year supporting Beth Hart and De Staat, amongst others. Is there any plan to see you again touring in Europe this year promoting the album or will you be focusing in touring the USA only?
Colleen - We really want to get back to Europe in the summertime; we had such a great response to the album and the live shows and the crowds are really different from North-American crowds. They are real music lovers, they want to go home with the cd in their hands, so we are definitely planning to go back in the summertime. We toured the United States and the South West, and then on to some festivals and more shows. I have never been to Italy and it's definitely on my bucket list; I have been dying to go there since I was a little girl and that would be a dream come true that we finally get to make it to Italy
Gio - We heard that despite the fact that Boo Hoo Hoo has been just released, you are already planning to record the follow-up of this album, potentially by the end of this year! Is that true?
Colleen - Yes, we have actually quite a few songs in the bank already, we almost have enough for another full album. We have decided to get back in the studio and finish that up. The reason why I am in Los Angeles right now is because I am writing with some people working on the new album...Yes, we are still busy, touring and making live shows and we don't have enough time to make the music! We haven't been in the studio for long enough to get the tracks for the album all ready.
Gio - Devil On My Back is the standout rock feedback-charged tune of the album, with a killer riff from Eric Campbell; was the song intended initially with such a tempo or did it change and develop while you guys were jamming?
Colleen - Actually, the interesting thing about that song was that I wasn't at the jam; Ian and Eric one day were jamming together and they recorded it and then they sent me the jam and I wrote the lyrics by myself just off of the MP3 of the jam they did; so we wrote it all together, we were just not in the same room when we wrote it.
Gio - If you had the chance to travel back through the decades of music history, where would you feel more at home and why?
Colleen - That is really a great question! I mean, the 50's were such exciting time because of the rock and roll and the teenage phenomenon that came along with it, then the 60's, an amazing time for revolution and it would have been amazing just being there, the summer of love and all that stuff. But then the 70's, I love the 70's so much, rock and roll had been around for a while and people were really getting used to it, finally the world was ready for rock and roll and I think it really flourished then. I have no idea, that is a fantastic question! I think maybe late 60's/mid 70's is where I want to find myself, it had a little bit of everything that I want.
Gio - Nina Simone once said that "An artist's duty, as far as I'm concerned, is to reflect the times". Is this the same concept that reflect the band's music style?
Colleen - That is really an interesting quote. I think what is happening with my generation certainly is that there is so much new stuff; nothing like this ever before, musically speaking, has been so accessible and I am finding that there is a trend where people from my generation are keen to go back to the basics, go back to the roots of music. This is where I feel our music reflects; the need of expressing something real in a world where everything seems like is almost fake.
(Gio) Back to the roots is the way then?
Colleen - Yes, I think there is a genuine need for the younger generation to have something real, to have something grounded and that what the band reflects, to answer your question.
Gio - Actress, singer, songwriter... But who is the real Colleen Rennison? Or are these just different sides of the same kaleidoscope?
Colleen - That's exactly it! I think we all have different personalities living inside of us. I mean, I enjoy so much to get up on stage just as much as I need to be quiet and reflective in my room. I have been able to express myself in many different layers and I think is really important to me to recognize those things in yourself and I am really lucky I am able to do it for a living; I am really a lucky girl that I get to wear all these different hats but it's all genuine! None of it is an act, it's all really me, just different sides of me.
And who's going to see you live certainly knows it! Colleen, listen, thank you very much, it has been a real pleasure to have you on the show and good luck with the debut album, we really look forward to see you in Italy very very soon.
Colleen - We can't wait to come to Italy. watch out, we are coming for you! Was really nice being on the show and talking to you.
About Our Author:
Giovanni "Gio" Pilato is Italian music writer, who has been living in UK since 2002. With an enormous passion for music, and life in general, his interest in the communications began at 11 years old. He worked briefly for local radios in his youth and did a one-off radio show on 2007 on the glorious BBC 6 Music Radio station. Gio started his freelance journalist career in 2012, with Italian artists, and is now mainly focusing on blues artists.
To follow Gio Pilato and his all cool radio show, visit: (RTL 102.5 Cool (Webradio)): http://www.rtl.it/Cool