Solomon Cole is an alt- blues, rock’n’roll quartet.
Their sound evokes the wordy dark tales of Tom Waits, and marries it to the blues effigies of Son House, R L Burnside, or Howlin’ Wolf in spirit, and wraps it all up in a little rock’n’roll package like some Black Keys / voodoo inspired mardi gras for the lonesome and downtrodden. Cue the release of their debut album 'Bruises' in 2016 receiving rave reviews ( one of the years best releases by Mike Alexander Sunday Times) and reaching No. 19 on the NZ Local album charts, and number 11 on the Independent NZ Music Albums, and nominated for best debut album in 2016 for The Taite Music Prize, The Solomon Cole Band gathered a blues rock'n'roll momentum.
The ultimate blues crossover, they've opened for Martha Davis & The Motels, My Baby (Europe), The Animals (UK), The Supersuckers (US) and more.
These days however, the quartet are intent on creating a more honed and organic, haunting blues-based sound that pivots on the songwriting partnership of vocalist Ely Xir and Solomon Cole. A richer palette that moves the band away from the rock sty-lings of the debut, toward a more varied approach instrument-wise. A deeper sense of roots based songs that capture the essence of traditional meets modern, wrapped up in vocal driven malady and dark tales. The band will exist between NZ shores and European dates from July onwards and look to release “Lucifer’s Rising” and “Pocket of Stones” upon their completion shortly.
The new album called “A Little South Of Heaven” will be the voodoo blues indie trance boogie and ritualistic rock n roll they’ve become noted for but with a twist.
PHOTOGRAPHY 2019 BY BRENNA GOTJE
PREVIEW ‘POCKET OF STONES” BELOW
Live Photos Solomon Cole & Ely Xir
RING YOUR BELL
RING YOUR BELL (LYRIC VIDEO)
BACK TO THE BEGINNING (FOOTAGE CIRCA 2014)
NZ TOP 20 LOCAL ALBUMS CHART
Solomon Cole a
merry old soul
By Mike Alexander - Sunday Star Times
The Solomon Cole Band, from left, Lee Catlin, Dionne Denize, Ely Xir and Derek Solomon.
Derek Solomon is the singer, guitarist, songwriter and leader of The Solomon Cole Band, whose debut album Bruises is one of the year's best.
Who is Solomon Cole?
He is the fictitious character at the centre of all the songs on the album Bruises. He is a lazy rock'n'roll appropriation of Solomon Burke (whose comeback album made by Joe Henry is still a big influence) and the magic of Cole Porter, who my mother used to love.
What's going on on Waiheke. Is it no longer the preserve of the pinot drinking artistes?
Dunedin once had Flying Nun, Wellington had its bed of amazing NZ musicians, Lyttleton has produced Marlon and The Eastern and now it's Waiheke Island's turn. The fourth most beautiful island to live on (according to Lonely Planet) has its own scene and micro-industry with everything to gain and nothing to lose. Albums by The Solomon Cole Band, Aaron Carpenter & The Revelators, Oyawa & The Waiheke International Soul Orchestra are to be released in 2016/2017. The bourgeois wine set sit perfectly next to a rather productive bohemian rock'n'roll music scene
Did you all meet on the island?
No, Lee, and I released albums previously via Jayrem Records for an Auckland band called PAYOLA. Those records were Gone To Ground and Dirt and Stars. Somehow, years later we found ourselves all moving to beautiful surroundings of Waiheke and decided the time was right to do more records, once we met the "wonderful and very beautiful Dione Denize". This made the power of four, the magic number, the perfect balance of rock'n'roll, two girls, two guys. It was an elemental force driven by electricity, sweat, blood and loud guitars.
Dione is a red-hot drummer and she is female, which is quite different for a New Zealand band, with the exception of Caroline Easther, who played with The Chills.
"The wonderful and very beautiful Dione Denize", as she is introduced on stages everywhere we play (to wolf whistles and cat calls),is the point of difference. In the words of veteran NZ engineer Nick Abbott, Dione is the Phil Rudd of NZ Music. She has the power of simplicity but also "she has the swing". Phil's got it, Charlie Watts has it and as soon as we played together we knew Dione Denize had it. Her style is The Solomon Cole Band – you either have the swing or you don't – it can't be taught.
Are you more of a bluesman and where does this influences come from?
No, I'm not a bluesman, in the purist sense. I'm as much a musical magpie as anyone that lifts, coerces and cuckolds everything I've ever loved into one big gumbo. I am as much Son House and Robert Johnson as I am the sonic wall of Bailter Space, the jagged stylings of Duane Dennison (Jesus Lizard), or blues trickery of Jimmy Page and Angus Young. It's all in there somewhere and Bruises, the album, contains all of it, in one way or another. It has its inception back to when I was 13 with a tennis racket, a mirror and a little tape deck my uncle had with a cassette in it that played the opening refrain of Whole Lotta love for the first time and I was off running.
Are you a maverick when it comes to songwriting, or are their certain things in life that you draw from?
I'm a very big Tom Waits fan. I like to write songs from the character's point of view, hence Solomon Cole is at the centre of the stories and not the real me. Both people are entirely different. I write little pockets of music that remain unfinished, then they are placed in the live show and we wait for the "happy accidents" to shape the song to it's finality. We keep the spirit alive – that way the edge to songwriting comes from the telepathy of what happens between four people standing on the verge of "getting it on". I like dark little tales and double entendres that are tricks of the tongue. I write the lyrics and they draw upon sex, malice, tales of woe, Americana, and more sex.
Bruises is an interesting title. Do you have any — physical or emotional?
Sure, Bruises was the song that was a point of difference for us as a band where we knew we could do anything within the confines of our own simplicity. Forward-moving, brooding, dark and powerful, the song was everything we are and where we want to go further. But it had the melancholy that we all carry, or that I carry, as any artist does. I like dark and terrible stories told from beautiful mouths and Bruises is that – part Biblical, part a message to the darkness of my mother's past ("Mary I hear you weeping through my door"), part the little ink blots of life no one dares speak of anymore. It was the only title for this record.
THE SOLOMON COLE BAND
All Photography By Brenna Gotje
Solomon Cole and Lee Catlin are published songwriters with Songbroker. They have released albums prior under PAYOLA, stoner blues rock band THESE AUTOMATIC CHANGERS as well as electronic music via THE WAIHEKE INTERNATIONAL SOUL ORCHESTRA, NEUTRIK & MORE. Check out some of their other work below!
LISTEN TO BRUISES
The Solomon Cole Band
In a day and age of the body electric, The Solomon Cole Band might seem passe. Don't be fooled though. This four-piece, hewn from the rock that's Waiheke island, has all the hallmarks of classic blues-based rock where Cole's muddy guitar lines are reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards, who could easily have written the strutting Littler Sister. Cole's vocals are the dark side of Miss Sophie's soulfulness and it works a charm on the ballsy Ring Your Bell and the booze-barn drive of Sweet Ruby. With a tight rhythm tension that has the elasticity of a bungee rope, The Solomon Cole Band have hit the motherlode.
13th Floor & rNZ InterviewS
Watch The Solomon Cole Band perform three songs and talk to Marty Duda at The 13th Floor.
Radio NZ Interview and performance.
ABOUT THE ALBUM & MEDIA LINKS
For two years The Solomon Cole Band have played to packed shows wherever they roam. In that time, 10 songs always stood out that connected with audiences, and these songs have made the record. The band made contact with Nick Abbott upon his sudden arrival home after 13 years in LA and the UK. He'd since worked with Robert Plant, Rihanna and numerous international acts in his tenure away. All this alongside local albums previously by Goldenhorse & The Datsuns, Nick was an ideal choice to take the raw bones of what The Solomon Cole Band had, and amplify it in a way the quartet hadn't thought of.
Nick states, "I had been back in the country for a few weeks when Derek asked if I’d be interested in having a go at mixing Ring Your Bell, the first single off what would become the ‘Bruises’ album. Having no expectations is a powerful thing. As is instinct, I wallowed in the raw rhythm section of Dione Denize and Lee Catlin, wrestled the monstrosities of Derek’s guitars and the female vocals. I had freedom and I took chances."
"Why not.Why not surprise and enthral at every turn? Why not turn this on its head?"
"Anyway. I sent the mix with trepidation. I’d seriously messed with this song. But incredibly the band loved it, and we kept moving forward. It’s been a pleasure to work on this record. The natural power of the playing, the timelessness of the writing and oh! that singing is a joy to sculpt. ‘Bruises’ is a monument to a scene, a freedom and independence. Long may it continue."
And so it came to pass, the album we had started had become an entirely different beast. Solomon says, "It no longer became the process of recording songs as they were rehearsed, but continually writing right up until the final mix, as Nick's approach would inspire new things for Lee and I."
'Bruises' includes live favourites like Lazy Boy, with it Zeppelinesque riff and snake-like groove, the Mark Lanegan sounding title track, and the glam boogie of Little Sister. Ring Your Bell has the archetypal ZZ Top guitar figure wrapped up in a story of double entendres and Alimony rounds out the record in fine southern harmony meets guitar crunch.