Graham Colton to breakaway with Clarkson

Seth Roy

Graham Colton (third from left), lead singer for the cleverly named Graham Colton band, will open for Kelly Clarkson this weekend at Cleveland’s Playhouse Square.

Credit: Andrew popik

Young bands on the rise can find the music businessfickle and tough to breakthrough.

For Graham Colton, 23, and his band, the aptly named Graham Colton Band, their breakthrough has been a constant work-in-progress since the original lineup formed in 2001.

The band’s steady rise began in 2002 when it went on tour with the Counting Crows. Since then, GCB has toured with musicians such as The Wallflowers, John Mayer and the Dave Matthews Band. Currently, they are touring with Kelly Clarkson and will be in Cleveland at the sold-out Palace Theatre Saturday.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Colton said of the tour. “It’s a really different crowd and environment.”

Colton also had a horde of compliments for the pop star.

“We’re really thrilled to be on tour with Kelly Clarkson,” he said. “The girl is one of the most talented singers I’ve ever been around. She’s so honest about what she does, and she’s real. Kelly is just a bona fide superstar.”

Playing to a new crowd is not just fun for the group: It’s a necessity. The group has never been featured on MTV or VH1, so being exposed to Clarkson’s crowd is very important for its career.

“Fortunately, we’re a group that can go play with Dave Matthews Band and then go play with Kelly Clarkson,” Colton said.

Colton first started writing songs in high school. While he was attending college at Southern Methodist University in Texas, his acoustic songs began to gain a local and internet following.

He attended SMU to play football but decided to concentrate fully on music after playing live for the first time. Colton was originally from Oklahoma City where he played quarterback for his high school.

“I was too small and too slow,” he said. “It was a Biblical thing in Oklahoma to play football. I just never had the rush for football that I did in music.”

He formed the Graham Colton Band, which released its first CD in 2001, in Dallas. Since that CD was released, the band has been on tour constantly.

“(It’s) been kind of busy,” he said. “But the good kind of busy.”

The Graham Colton Band’s second CD, Drive, is an easy-listening, pop rock album full of catchy hooks and lyrics. The group wrote most of the songs while touring during the past few years.

The CD’s title has many different meanings, Colton said. One of the meanings refers to where most of the songs were written. Another meaning has to do with the “drive in the band. It may sound corny, but it’s true.”

Drive sounds like a mixture of pop and rock with a tiny twang in Colton’s voice. It brings to mind many of the groups the band has toured with in the past. Colton’s music has been compared to the Counting Crows, DMB and John Mayer. In Colton’s mind, his music contains many different elements and cannot be narrowed down to any single influences.

“When people talk about our music,” he said. “It’s all apples and oranges.”

He went on to say that some people define rock by how heavy the guitars are, or how loud the screaming is.

“I define music by the lyrical content,” he said.

He calls Drive a complete album with a lot of depths to it; Drive is a real “coming of age” for him.

“I always kind of say I wrote the same song 11 times,” he said. “It just took that long to get through the subject.”

The Graham Colton Band will “drive” to Cleveland to continue its journey to further breakaway from its small stature.

Contact Pop Arts reporter Seth Roy at [email protected].