Thursday, August 20, 2009

COLBIE CAILLAT, takes inspiration from FLEETWOOD MAC

Rumours of Colbie Caillat's talent are totally true

For millions of fans, Fleetwood Mac's Rumours provided a soundtrack to the late 1970s. Topping the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, it is regarded as a rock milestone.

But, to the young Colbie Caillat, who wasn't even born when the album was made in 1977, Rumours was just a batch of songs that had something to do with her father and his mates.

Ken Caillat was in the producer's chair for many of the classic Fleetwood Mac albums of the 1970s and 1980s, including Rumours.

And Colbie, the younger of Ken's daughters, grew accustomed to the sight of Mick Fleetwood and Stevie Nicks in her California home.

'When I was younger, I didn't know Fleetwood Mac were such a big deal,' says Colbie, 24. 'They would come to our place and hang out, and Dad sometimes took me along to the studio.

'I remember going to Mick Fleetwood's house in Hawaii and taking a ride on a boat owned by John McVie. I once borrowed a jacket that Stevie Nicks wore to the Grammys.'

As she got older, Colbie - now a fast-rising singer-songwriter in her own right - began to appreciate the reputation of Fleetwood Mac and the legacy of Rumours, an album recorded in a drug-addled haze of romantic discord and disintegration.

'It's only now that I'm starting to get the full story,' she says. 'But all the intrigue adds to the legend of that band.

'People liked Rumours because it was real and honest. The group were singing songs about their love interests, their affairs and even the drugs.'

A bright-eyed, all-American girl, Colbie says she learnt a lot from Fleetwood Mac. Sensible enough to have avoided drugs - she unwinds with nothing more than a cold beer - she admires the veteran band for their songcraft.

'On Rumours every song had its place. That's the kind of record I want to make. I wouldn't put my name on an album with two good tracks plus a load of filler.'

Caillat (the name rhymes with ballet) is already on the way to achieving her goal. Her first album Coco, released two years ago, sold two million copies in her homeland.

Titled after her childhood nickname, its progress was helped by a major hit single in Bubbly.

Now she hopes to build on her U.S. success by cracking Britain. Her second album Breakthrough, out next month, is a step in the right direction: its mellow, acoustic-based songs are perfect for balmy, late summer days.

Colbie, who sports a floral tattoo on her arm, tells me her laid-back style is a natural consequence of a childhood spent on the Malibu shore.

'It was always warm and sunny, and that's where my outlook comes from,' she says.
Although Fleetwood Mac are an influence, Colbie began singing aged 11 after hearing the Fugees' 'beautiful' version of Roberta Flack's Killing Me Softly With His Song.

But, while she did well in school talent contests, her father told her that having a great voice wasn't enough: if she wanted to make a living out of music, she was going to have to write her own songs. With that in mind, she began piano and guitar lessons.

She penned her first song at 19 and, prompted by a friend, set up a MySpace site to make her material available online.

At first, nothing much happened. But after she added Bubbly, the reaction was spectacular.

'I was suddenly getting 50,000 hits a day,' she says, still incredulous. 'Within six months, I had become the number one unsigned artist on MySpace.'

Not for long, though. Impressed by her internet profile, the major labels were quickly on her trail.

A deal with Universal followed, and Colbie soon found herself on the road with college rockers The Goo Goo Dolls and singer-songwriter John Mayer, one of her idols.

'I got noticed because of the fans I picked up on MySpace,' she says. 'The record labels used to go to clubs to scout for new bands. Now, thanks to the internet, fans can choose who they want to be signed.

'I had nothing, no real foundation, when I put my songs online. I was lucky in that my fans found me and ultimately liked what they heard.'

For Coco, Colbie stayed true to the rough-and-ready spirit of the songs that first got her noticed. With Breakthrough, though, she has changed tack. Written in Hawaii and recorded in Los Angeles, it is a more considered affair.

'My first album was a raw collection,' she says. 'I'd write a song and put it on MySpace the same day. Those songs eventually ended up on the first album. With Breakthrough, I opened up to different kinds of music. I worked with five different producers.'

Now, having conquered the internet and the U.S, Colbie is touring again, with UK shows planned for next year.

'Having fans on MySpace is great, but there's something unreal about it,' she says. 'Seeing people at a show is much better. I'm starting to feel more comfortable on stage.'

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