We had a quick chat with Fred Colombo, possibly one of the most interesting musicians we’ve ever met (and we’ve met some pretty interesting people). Here he is telling us about why he’s inspired by rain, and what it feels like when you’re about to screw up in front of 2000 fans.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, how long have you been on the music scene?
Well, after years of classical/jazz piano training in my local music school in Nice, France, I have started playing keyboards in various local rock bands with local gigs when I was 17. Then I co-created a progressive metal band called Spheric Universe Experience back in 2002, which is still active nowadays, with 4 albums released and tours around Europe and the USA. This is the project which offered me the most beautiful experiences so far and introduced me to the world of professional music business.
Who’s been your biggest musical influence or inspiration?
So many of them… It’s hard to name only one! I would say Japanese video game music composer Nobuo Uematsu, but also artists like Herbie Hancock, Jordan Rudess, David Paich from Toto, Archive, Massive Attack, the UK liquid drum ‘n bass scene, and tons of others! Also, one of my biggest inspirations is not an artist – it’s rain. Rainy weather inspires me flows of melodies and musical ideas which no other artist or element can inspire me! Especially as rain is not frequent in the French Riviera so it’s like a godsend for me when it comes!
You’ve played some pretty big gigs, what’s been your career highlight to date?
There again, I can’t highlight one particular gig, I remember several – I’ve been lucky to open for The Scorpions with Spheric Universe Experience in 2005, huge gig, 10,000 people… I was only 21 years old! Then I also remember an amazing concert with a 100-teenager choir backing us at a heavy metal festival, which was probably a world premiere in this configuration! Last but not least, one of my most beautiful live memory is certainly our appearance at ProgPower USA Festival in Atlanta, GA in 2008. Hundreds of fans from all over the world had come to see us. It was like years of hard work were finally rewarded, in the most outstanding way possible. It all suddenly made sense!
Have you ever had any mishaps during a gig or tour?
Oh yes I had… Recently! It was a year ago, June 2012, a few hours before I played a massive live show with 400 dancers behind me and the band, my main keyboard suddenly started to bug, the entire show was jeopardised, as playing for dancers is not like playing a music-only show with your band – if ONE note or one bar is f**cked up because of a wrong synth sound pattern, ALL dancers on stage get lost and the entire choreography collapses, leaving us musicians and all dancers lost in front of 2,000 people… I freaked out like never before. I begged all keyboard players I knew in the area to possibly find me a replacement keyboard that was compatible with mine, as I used specific sound patterns and effects which the entire show depended on… It was a very difficult do-or-die mission, with only a few hours time. I finally found a fellow keyboardist with the exact same machine as mine, and the show was safe. The fear of my lifetime so far!
‘Memoria’ is a little different from your previous stuff with the band; what made you change direction?
Well, ambient jazzy electronic pop has always been my true personal favourite genre combination. My musical journey led me to the path of heavy metal and rock, which are genres that I do love and brought me quite a lot of success; but I really wanted to create the music that I feel inside of me in a solo album, without having to compromise on the composition like you have to do in a band with multiple composers. I wanted to do this solo album for years, and finally found time in 2012-2013. I must say that I enjoyed a lot, composing each track of this album – it was a refreshing, rewarding experience.