It is Friday afternoon in early May and Rick Colado is on the road again. Specifically he’s barreling towards Miami. For most of his life, Colado has tried to maintain forward momentum. It’s been 20 years since the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist made his mark with indie rock cohorts The Julius Airwave. Undoubted local heroes, the band also garnered positive press from various media outlets.
In the wake of that band’s end, Colado has consistently shown that he surely works well with others. Notable collaborations with Ben Cooper aka Radical Face (as The Clone Project), longtime childhood friend Astronautilus, and Robin Rütenberg (as Little Books) are just the tip of the iceberg of Colado’s shifting musical groupings. Combine these formal partnerships with informal studio cameos and one-offs and Colado’s myriad projects become a kind of nerve map for local indie rock. Presently Colado is heading south to reunite with Fort Lauderdale-based hip-hop artist Jacques Bruna (aka Bleubird) for a run of shows as their “yacht rap” duo, Hurricane Party. The pair originally met through mutual friend, Astronautilus.
“Maybe a year and a half ago Bleubird and I started talking about doing something. I was thinking about producing some rap tunes for my friends, because for some reason I got in with this crew of underground rap artists,” he explains, of the formation of Hurricane Party. “Bleubird and I started working together and it was just easy, fun and effortless and we came up with this thing. For me, the best type of collaboration is no resistance. You give each other confidence.”
Hurricane Party has released a full-length and a few limited-release mixtapes. Their latest single, “Pamplemousse”—a chill blend of Colado’s vox-and-keyboard flavor and Bleubird’s rapid-fire raps—is a teaser hit of their forthcoming album, Juice, available July 5 on Limited Fanfare Records.
“So far we’ve only played Florida and Europe,” he laughs. “We’re kind of a Florida-centric band: me being from Jacksonville and him being from Fort Lauderdale. It’s like if the Gorillaz were from Florida. That’s what we’re kind of going for.”
But Colado is surely best known as rickoLus. Starting as a side project in ‘04, since 2010 rickoLus has released nine well-received full-lengths and EPs, much of it recorded in his home studio, The Green Shed. Unsurprisingly, collaborations and guest stars still abound. But Colado is rickoLus and, along with being the sole songwriter, plays the bulk of instruments himself. Categorizing rickoLus’s music is a slippery slope: acoustic guitars and pensive balladry will suddenly collide with upbeat songs, crackling with lo-fi electronics. His music has permeated the digital plain with much success (his YouTube video for 2010’s “Photographs” alone boasts 40K+ views) and he’s garnered international and national shout-outs.
Within a week, Colado (as rickoLus) will begin a 21-date concert tour of Europe. This will be his fifth tour of the continent. “I just get flustered because I wait until the last minute to get my sh** together,” he laughs. “Right now I’m not getting much sleep because I lay in bed worrying about what I have to do.”
Just days prior to this highway run, the Prague, Czech Republic label Lokal Rekorc released his latest rickoLus offering, Archways. The six-song EP is available on all major download and streaming sites, as well as 10” vinyl. The upcoming tour is heavy on Czech concerts, where he’ll play a total of 14 gigs. Two years ago he toured that country during a European run and established connections. “I’d been writing and playing more piano and every club there [Czech Republic] seemed to have an old piano,” he laughs. “Maybe it was serendipity.” After that Prague gig, Lokal Rekorc label owner, Adam Nenadál, approached him. “He said, ‘Rick – I’m not drunk,” he laughs. “I want to put out a 10” record of just piano songs. Which sounded cool to me.”
Archways is about change and transition. Even the album title alludes to going through something. Three years ago Colado and his family moved from his native home of Jacksonville Beach. In the last year he was finally able to quit his job and focus on his music career full-time. He admits to being somewhat burned out. Temporality can kill a buzz.
Beginning with the sound of the piano bench sliding, Colado leaning into the mic to say, “105’s alive,” followed by a lead-in count, a laugh, and a false start, “Clarence Clemons” opens the album and establishes the intimate vibe to come. Bass, piano, and drums float along on a four-note pattern, Colado’s languid delivery rolling out his intent and what he wants: “I wanna live like I’m going nowhere / I wanna take out all the loans / And spend all that money on something stupid / just for a laugh on down the road.” Colado seems baffled by, and then laughs, at the song being compared to a “depressed anthem.” But he does agree that somberness, or at least a measured introspection, permeates Archways.
Songs like the elegiac “Treefort,” the rolling folk of “Mountain” and the waltz of the title track play like a reluctant celebration where nostalgia and loss are guests of honor. At times, Colado’s lyrics are the poetry of the past tense. After all, aren’t the hardest things to let go of the very things you’ve already lost? There’s a quality of Archways where Colado seems to be “letting go,” or at least loosening his grip, on life’s absolutes. The end result is a certain peace rising out of that surrender.
A four-octave, out-of-tune piano was Colado’s main instrument of choice for Archways. The sonic filigrees and electronic processing of a tune like 2016’s “Smaller Heart” have been switched off; or at least clicked over to standby. Most of the vocals and piano for Archways were recorded live, adding more of a “there” quality.
“I spent years recording these kinds of ‘audio-fantastic,’ anything-goes records. I’d record 12 guitars with an EBow and a drum kit made out of Legos. This record sounds like me. It’s definitely a good reflection of what my life’s been like in the past two years.”
Now at age 38, Colado also thinks that part of the quality of Archways was simply getting older and becoming more comfortable in simply being himself. “I was tired of playing a show and my records no longer sounding like me playing. Some distance had developed. I think this record closes that.”
Between the aforementioned collaborations and limited releases, deciphering Colado’s discography can be tricky. Judging by his Bandcamp page, even some of his rickoLus releases bump the timeline; formally released in 2017, the bulk of Rivers and Lakes was recorded in ’03 to four-track at singer-songwriter-violinist Rebecca Zapen’s house.
“I think from the beginning I have always been obsessed with the album format. I grew up in the age of the album. I guess some would argue at the end of the album age,” he says. “Singles are great but I’m obsessed with albums. The goal was to do an In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, or a Nevermind or The Soft Bulletin. To make a perfect album from start to finish. I can’t say I’ve necessarily done that (laughs) but that’s the goal.”
Now Colado has a Patreon account offering a vault of 20+ years of his recordings, from minimalist cassette recordings to those with more digital spice, going back as far as when he was 14 in the pre-internet DIY world. “There’s a small supportive group [of patrons] and they’ve stuck with me for a year now. It’s a little bit of constant money that really helps me do this.”
In both age and sensibility, Colado is a product of the cusp of Generation X/Y. His music bears this out. The Jacksonville Beach native was a second-wave Einstein a Go-Go kid who found music, solace, and a tribe at that now-legendary beaches’ all-ages club. Vinyl, cassette, and CD releases where still industry formats; back when there was even still a “formatted” music industry. Under all of his many projects, Colado operates in the middle of streaming and social media platforms. He’s an album-obsessed artist at peace with the new downloading, streaming reality.
“There’s no gatekeeper anymore,” he offers. “And that can even seem weird and intimidating. But you just need to learn how to be your own gatekeeper.”
Hurricane Party’s Album Release party kicks off at 8 p.m. on July 19 with openers The Dog Apollo at Jack Rabbits, 1528 Hendricks Ave., San Marco; tickets are $8, jaxlive.com.
Jack Rabbits will also host rickolus’ Archways Album Release Party on Saturday, August 17.