Tripping with Secret Colours

By Sophia Coleman

Mix a large dose of psychedelia, a heap of garage rock and a pinch of pop, and you have the recipe for Secret Colours, a sextet at the forefront of Chicago’s psych-rock scene.

With Tommy Evans on lead vocals, Dave Stach on guitar, Dylan Olson on vocals, Justin Frederick on drums, Margaret Albright on background vocals, keyboard and percussion, and Nate Wiese on keyboard, rhythm guitar and percussion, the 2-year-old band has gained a spectrum of followers by playing at big-time venues like South By Southwest in Austin, Texas, and gritty do-it-yourself shows in the heart

of Chicago.

The band released its latest work,“EP3,” Jan. 1 as a followup to its 2010 self-titled album. Because the group added an element of Brit-pop, it’s fair to say that listeners don’t have to be experts on the subgenres of psych-rock in order to enjoy the music.

The Chronicle spoke with Stach to find out the origins of the band’s name, who its influences are and what he personally thinks of the Chicago psych-rock scene.

The Chronicle: What’s with the name Secret Colours? Why add the “u” in there?

Dave Stach: Man, there are so many things with the name. We really like the name; then we found out there was a band in Seattle with the name “Secret Colors.” We are obsessed with Brit-Pop music like Blur, Oasis and the Heavy Mondays. Our music sounds a little bit like we could be from England, so we decided to add the “u” in there. The [other Secret Colors] doesn’t like the fact that we named the band that.

The Chronicle: Your most recent work is titled “EP3.” Why that name?

DS: The honest answer is that we had to submit the info that day in order to get it up on iTunes, and we didn’t have any good names. Last summer was insane. We ended up hooking up with Brian Deck, a world-renowned producer, engineer and musician. He’s produced all of the Iron and Wine [tracks]. We did two months with him, and he took us to a whole new level. He changed the little things that we could improve on, and it really came out freakin’ awesome. We ended coming out with an EP and a full-length [album].

The Chronicle: Who are your biggest influences?

DS: I could list off a million. The Black Angels, not only in their music, but what they do with their music. They’re the ones who started off in Psych Fest and they started their own record label called Reverberation Appreciation Society. They do a lot of good stuff for the [psychedelic] scene. [Others are] the Stone Roses, Blur, Dandy Warhols and Brian Jonestown Massacre.

The Chronicle: How do you guys maintain that ’60s psychedelic feel while making your sound modern?

DS: When you play [psychedelic] music, people will quickly dismiss you as a copy of a copy of a copy. We try to throw in our own twist. We put in our 2 cents. We take our influences, and when we write a song we never take the easy way out.

The Chronicle: What do you enjoy most about the Chicago music scene? What do you hate about it?

DS: We like that we are always surprised with the amount of bands that we haven’t heard that are just so awesome. We always have a new opener on the bill for us. That being said, the fact that there’s so much music in Chicago. It’s pretty crazy. Getting into a venue can be tough sometimes. There’s a lot of competition.

The Chronicle: What do you think the future has in store for Secret Colours?

DS: We are booked in Chicago until March, and then we will be doing a send-off show in Chicago before we leave for [SXSW]. We just enjoy what we are doing right now. We think about what’s happening in a couple of weeks and then work from there.

Catch Secret Colours Jan. 25 at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport Ave. Doors open at 8 p.m. and tickets are $10–$12. To check out tracks, purchase music and view tour dates, visit