John Colby grew up in Dublin, OH with dreams of being a pro baseball player. His formative years in the midwest were mostly devoted to his goal of becoming the first basemen for the Cincinatti Reds (Dan Dreissen being his idol, and 22 being his favorite number). Although sports were his first love, mistress music would soon gain his affections.
John’s first musical memories were a mish mash instilled by the diverse interests of his older sister and his parents. While his sister was turning him onto Cheap Trick, The Cars and AC/DC, his hip Mother was gracious enough to buy him Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours”, The Beatles’ “Let It Be”, Led Zeppelin’s “In Through The Out Door”, The Commodors’ “Midnight Magic” and the soundtrack to the animated movie Heavy Metal. His Father, Lewis Colby, however, was marching to the beat of a very different drummer. As a member of folk icons The Leedsmen, John’s Father was playing acoustic guitar and banjo throughout the midwest and southern United States from a very early age. By the time John was a young lad, his Father was only playing weekends, but his enthusiasm for traditional string music had far from waned. He fed John a healthy dose of Kinston Trio, Jim Croce, John Denver and James Taylor. John’s Dad continues to play three shows a week to this day, although traditional Irish folk music is now his forte.
The musical seeds were in place, but it took moving to a seemingly unfertile landscape to make them grow. Before long, John would relocate to the desert, but he’ll always remain a Midwestern boy at heart. His Ohio years had a lasting influence, as evidenced by his continuing devotion to the Browns and his faithful canine companion named Cleveland.
After relocating to Tempe, AZ, John’s interest in sports continued but music started to play a bigger and bigger role. MTV’s constant barrage of colorful rock videos started to take it’s toll and convinced him that his paper route money would be best spent on a cheap Hondo electric guitar. What’s more, his high school was one of the few in the area that actually offered a classical guitar class as an elective. The explosive arrival of bands like Def Leppard mixed with Mr. Diaz’s fun, effective tutelage led to John forming his very first band, Zero Discipline. After getting more serious and actually applying some discipline, Zero Discipline soon became The Trend, a pop band in the vein of The Producers and Duran Duran, which played many gigs over the next two years. It is very interesting to note that four of the five members of The Trend became professional musicians and all continue to make their musical livings here in the Phoenix area. What’s more, three of them, John Colby, Stephanie Fox and Gary Sanchez, still play together to this day (Rock Lobster, anyone?).
After moving out of his Dad’s house (John sites musical differences as the reason for the break up), John’s new room mate, Tim Teal, would also became his new lead singer. A fateful offer to play a frat party led to the hasty formation of Method U, an original band with Gary Sanchez again on drums. Influenced by The Smiths, The Chameleons and Caterwaul (hometown heroes signed to I.R.S. records) they quickly moved on to playing hip venues such as The Sun Club, Max’s 919 and Edcel’s Attic and gaining a very decent following on the local scene.
They recorded their first 8 songs at a local studio in 1987. High school friend, Pete Deluca was working for Channel 10 and had access to equipment that most bands did not. With a college project as an excuse, Pete’s favorite Method U song, “Footsteps Race” became a high quality video that went on to get local play on Friday Night Videos. A second track, “1800″, was picked up by an underground skateboarding video with national distribution.
More on John!
Inevitable personnel changes continued to evolve the band. The first line-up change resulted in an album’s worth of tracks (“Mundane Through Friday”) that found John taking over lead vocals as well as his usual guitar duties. Though still a four piece in the studio, John’s brother Drew was recruited to play keys for the live shows. Then, after their bassist left, Method U called it quits and everyone went their separate ways. Oddly, after five years as a band and several recording sessions, Method U never officially released a record. Even so, who knows how many young skate punks around the country were inspired to start their own bands after purchasing “License To Skate.”
In 1994, in the aftermath of Method U, John met and became good friends with Ben Montoya, another local guitarist with some song ideas of his own, and they talked about putting a band together. Drummer Gary Sanchez had just returned home from a European tour with Talk of the Town and was ready for a new project as well. They formed a three-piece called The Cells. There was only one problem. With Ben playing guitar, John’s edge-inspired lead playing was no longer needed. What was needed was a bass player. John made the switch to bass guitar and it has been his primary instrument ever since. Unfortunately, where the bass stuck, The Cells did not. After one album and only one lonely show, Ben moved to California.
During an extended stint in college, John was brought on board for Pop Culture. With Gary Sanchez again behind the kit, John took over guitar, bass and vocal duties. Pop Culture only lasted about a year, but was significant in that it was John’s first cover band.
More on John!
After an almost two year hiatus from performing, during which, school and full time work as a bartender were his focus, John came back to music with recharged batteries and a renewed sense of what he wanted in a band. 1995 saw the formation of a band that would take the Scottsdale music scene by storm and have continued success for over a decade. The band was initially intended to include Stephanie Fox, John’s ex-bandmate (and ex-girlfriend) from The Trend on co-lead vocals and feature great male and female cover songs. However, initial band plans moved forward so quickly, that before he even had a chance to contact her, the line-up was set. John knew singer Scott McDonald from back when Scott was performing in a heavily sequenced cover band at the same time Method U was playing out, and Gary had met guitar ace Allan Chadwick from doing session work. The first gig was booked before the band even had a name. When the local paper called to find out what moniker to include in the advertisement, they had to think quickly. Nothing abstract came to mind so they turned to the last names of the band members themselves for inspiration. The Colby’s was immediately rejected as it smacked of a certain prime-time soap opera gracing television screens in the mid-80′s called “Dallas”. The McDonald’s and The Sanchez’s just didn’t seem to roll off the tongue. For lack of something truly snappy and time running out, The Chadwicks would have to do.
The band floundered a bit at first with the usual growing pains. Scott’s sequencing influence filled out the sound of the band quite nicely, but he wasn’t quite working out. John and Gary decided to reunite with Method U alumnus Tim Teal. Tim had been enjoying success with August Red until they had recently split up and left him looking for a new project. He had been interested in joining The Chadwicks from the very beginning and now he had his chance. John, Gary and Tim were back together again for the first time in 5 years (and 10 years later, they still are).
Within a year or so, The Chadwicks were already highly in demand, playing three or four nights a week around Tempe and Scottsdale. It was at this point, while the band was being stretched fairly thin, that a club owner suggested that a second, offshoot band might be advantageous for everyone involved. The Martini Ranch’s owners, drunk from the money they were making off of The Chadwicks consistent crowd pull, were looking for a way to capitalize even further. John heeded the call and quickly put together an 80′s pop cover band that played all the stuff that the Chadwicks didn’t, including “chick songs”. John now had a new reason to call Stephanie Fox. With Stephanie and guitarist Glen Pudick in place, Princess Leah and The Dukes of Hazard was born on New Year’s Eve 1996. After only one gig the name was changed and within 3 months, Rock Lobster was playing every Saturday night…to this day. Subsequently, Chameleon Entertainment L.L.C. was formed as an umbrella for both bands.
More on John!
Most recently, John launched his newest project, Metalhead, an 80′s hair metal band which includes guitarist John Bronson and ex-Lynch Mob singer Robert Mason. Through the benefit of enormous experience culled over the years, Metalhead was launched with all of it’s ducks in a row and was playing three nights a week before it was even 9 months old. There seems to be no end in sight as Metalhead continues to gain momentum.
In addition to playing bass in three successful area bands (with a fourth on the way), John Colby is also the primary acting manager and booking agent for all of the Chameleon Entertainment projects. Fielding phone calls and taking meetings during the day can be a full-time job in and of itself. “How does he have time to fit it all in?”, you wonder.
No one knows . . .