We pick the hottest new acts so you can tell your friends you heard them first. Meet Australian trio Columbus on their new EP 'Driving In The Dark'.
On their latest EP, Driving In The Dark, Australian east coast sweethearts Columbus prove why their joyful, hard-hitting blend of pop-punk and indie-rock continues to connect with fans around the globe.
Irresistibly charming and perfectly tinged in late ‘90s and early ‘00s nostalgia, the record showcases the three-piece at their absolute best, with vocalist and guitarist Alex Moses explaining that he “wrote the [EP] about learning how to love – my life, others, and myself. With each release we’re adding to the fire what Columbus means to us. This EP represents where we’re at right now. It’s been a wild time driving in the dark, but I think we’ve finally arrived.”
Driving In The Dark marks a huge milestone for Columbus. After releasing their first independent single since 2014 – powerful track ‘Can’t Hide From What Hurts’ – at the tail end of 2019, this EP is the band’s first extended release in four years, as well as their first record featuring their current lineup with bassist Lauren Guerrera.
With band members normally separated across Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane, Driving In The Dark was recorded during a lucky window of time between Melbourne’s 2021 lockdowns. With only a few days together to rehearse and record their new material, Columbus quickly got to work – heading into the studio with Joel Quartermain (Fergus James, G-Flip, Eskimo Joe).
The EP follows what has been a rollercoaster past couple of years for the trio, including Columbus’ third appearance at Victorian music festival Unify and a national support slot alongside Sly Withers on their sold-out tour. Their celebrated string of single releases leading into the EP also saw the band earn support from the likes of triple j, Spotify, Beat Magazine, The Music, Ticketmaster, The Guardian, NME and more.
Since forming in early 2012, Columbus have been taking their earnest songwriting to audiences around the world. Starting out as a high school jazz band, founding members Alex and Daniel released their debut EP Home Remedy in 2015, with lead single ‘Downsides of Being Honest’ earning the band at spot on stage at Soundwave Festival.
2016 saw Columbus release their debut album Spring Forever, peaking at #47 on the ARIA charts and seeing them tour with the likes of Birds Of Tokyo, The Ataris, You Me At Six, and Trophy Eyes, as well as taking the stage at festivals NYE On The Hill and UNIFY.
After capping off sold out Australian shows on their final Spring Forever tour, they dropped their second album A Hot Take On Heartbreak and headed out on the road with William Ryan Key of US rockers Yellowcard before completing an Australia-wide headline tour of their own.
In 2019, this new chapter of Columbus officially began after Lauren joined the band, and that’s where we meet the trio now – with their brilliant new EP Driving In The Dark in hand and the future for Columbus looking brighter than ever.
Inside the creative process of Columbus’ new EP ‘Driving In The Dark’
Alex – Columbus: “Every studio session is different. Making this EP came with its own unique challenges of navigating COVID lockdowns and border restrictions, as we all live in different states. One fortunate aspect of lockdowns in Melbourne was that I had lots of time to write songs, and the situation definitely forced me into some darker lyricism than I’d written in recent years.
“The process kicked off with me sending through rough demos to the band – we accumulated a few and picked out a shortlist. We booked in to record the EP in Melbourne with Joel Quartermain (Eskimo Joe, G-Flip, Fergus James), a producer and all around legend. The band flew in from their respective homes (Dan from Brisbane and Lauren from Sydney) leaving a few days for rehearsal before the studio bookings. We were booked into a rehearsal studio to practice and finish writing the songs, but Daniel was awaiting covid test results due to interstate travel and wasn’t allowed to leave our place, so we ended up rehearsing in my house (luckily without getting the cops called).
“Recording was hectic as we only had a few days to get the songs finished. Alongside the songs we did with Joel, the track ‘The Holidays’ was self-produced. Following a big day recording, we’d come home and start recording drum takes in my home studio trying to smash the songs out before everyone had to go home. After drums were done, Daniel did a very Travis Barker move and left back to Brisbane, and Lauren and I finished off the guitars, bass and vocals for the tracks.
“The whole thing was a rollercoaster time, but I think the clock and environmental pressures forced us to create something we’re really proud of. Got to make hay while the sun is shining!”
Down memory lane
Alex – Columbus: “My favourite time recording is always the last day in the studio. The vibes are always excited and positive, as the songs are coming together and you’re getting to hear them properly for the first time. When we finished we picked up some beers and sat in the studio listening through the songs, pointing out our favourite parts – it was heaps of fun.”
Tell us the story
Alex – Columbus: “Driving In The Dark is about blindly going somewhere you’ve never been before. These songs are about new beginnings – jumping into love, accepting changes, and dealing with the bruises that come along the way.
“The concept of the EP was just one of those things that came very naturally. The lyric ‘Driving in the dark” was originally a line from the track ‘Full Heart’, which was the first track written for the EP. After that the concept subconsciously found its way into the other tracks. There was a lot of uncertainty in the world, including in the music industry at the time of writing these songs. I think that uncertainty and anxiety was hard to ignore.”
To celebrate the release of their new EP Driving In The Dark, Columbus are sharing their perfect late night driving playlist.
Check out Driving In The Dark by Columbus
Columbus share their perfect late night driving playlist:
ALEX MOSES – VOCALS & GUITAR
John the Ghost – Sour Grapes
“This one’s a relaxed and catchy bop for when you want something quieter. I first heard John the Ghost through a related artist and later found out it was the side project of John O’Callaghan, the vocalist in The Maine – a band who I also like, and Dan and Lauren are big fans of.”
Turnover – Sasha
“Turnover are one of my favourite bands, and this tune is a great late-nighter. Early Turnover had a great ability to balance pop punk energy with a melancholy vocal that wakes you up and calms you down at the same time.”
Ball Park Music – Cherub
“One of my favourite songs of the past few years. Ball Park Music’s ‘Cherub’ is probably what I put on in the car when I recently drove back to Sydney after our Canberra show with Sly Withers, with Dan and Lauren asleep in the back. Fortunately this one would be unlikely to wake your friends up.”
DANIEL SEYMOUR – DRUMS
Sydney Sprague – what u want
“Sydney is such a cool artist that combines elements of midwest emo, folk and Nashville inspired country/pop to make some amazing tunes. Her record ‘maybe i will see you at the end of the world’ was one of my favourite albums of last year, and this song is the perfect song to put on while you drift off in the backseat and watch the country fly past.”
The Maine – Taxi
“Alex mentioning The Maine above made me think of this track. Such a fun song to blast at 10, singalong to and just vibe with. The Maine really hit their strides with this whole record and ‘Taxi’ is one of my standouts from Lovely Little Lonely“
The 1975 – The Ballad of Me and My Brain
“One of my favourite The 1975 tracks, and probably one of their standout ‘non-single’ songs. Another song with a fun vibe, that I just want to roll the windows down to and enjoy. Builds really nicely and a crescendo, and makes me think of the end of a big road trip, as you roll into town a little sleepy, but ready to explore.”
Gretta Ray – Drive
“Okay, possibly a little cliche – but I love Gretta Ray’s songwriting and this song is so catchy. Cars, a love song, great hooks – what more could you want as you fly down the Hume Highway at 110kms per hour?”
LAUREN GUERRERA – BASS
Jimmy Eat World – Polaris
“When I think of night drives, I immediately think of this Jimmy Eat World album. I can see myself driving the band late at night, listening to this album, and feeling very indulgently pensive while everyone sleeps. I’m obsessed with the way they’ve made this album sound so night-like and dark, and this song has a particular cold crispness to it that’s really hard to articulate.”
The Anniversary – The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
“Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a huge ’90s emo nerd so this is essential listening on a big night drive. The gang vocals, abrasive synths, bass that is so loud for some reason? How can you not sport the biggest grin while listening to this? The Anniversary were such a huge influence on the powerpop side of emo in the 2000s and consequently the Australian emo revival in 2010s…so I refuse to let their legacy die!”
Charli XCX – anthems
“This is the part of the night where my five hours of sleep over 48 hours hits and I start running on pure adrenaline and desperation baby. There have been many times where I’ve abused my ‘driver’s music choice’ privileges and cranked up some hyperpop to make sure no one falls asleep while I’m driving – this song is a regular. The lyrics to this song are so much fun to just scream when you’re overtired, and listening to Charli allows me to entertain the thought of changing the trajectory of my life and becoming a party girl (we all know that’s not the life for me).”
Check out the full playlist:
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