Artist Spotlight

Liza Colby on the Evolution of The Liza Colby Sound

Liza Colby of The Liza Colby Sound was born to be a musician. “Both of my parents are professional musicians… They met because my dad was trying out for my mom’s band and he didn’t make it in,” Liza laughs. However, a few years later her mom, Beverly Rohlehr, was ready to do something new and asked John Colby to produce it. “They’ve been together ever since. I have a younger brother who’s also a musician.”

Liza grew up in Connecticut but visited New York City regularly with her dad when she was little. “My dad would take me out of school to go to his sessions. I knew I would live there,” Liza says. Liza ended up going to college for majors unrelated to rock music. Her first major was studying recreation and leisure (corporate event planning) but she quickly realized it wasn’t a good fit. After transferring to another school and giving musical theater a try she decided she couldn’t deny the calling to make rock n’ roll. When she told her mom her decision to pursue music her mom said, “Listen, it’s crazy and heartbreaking but if you can’t live without it then this is exactly what you should be doing and we’ll support you.”

Photo by James Hartley

Liza moved to New York and worked a ton of odd jobs to support herself while pursuing music until she made the leap to work on music full time. Now, The Liza Colby Sound is releasing a new EP, Draw. But the road to the release hasn’t been an easy one. The Liza Colby Sound has been together for a long time. Liza met her band through her husband. Her husband (boyfriend at the time) was friends with guitarist, Adam Roth and told him to check out her music. When Adam heard Liza he told her he had a whole band ready to back her. Liza got lucky with a brother duo on guitar and drums (Adam and Charlie Roth), a family connection she could appreciate. Alec Morton completed the lineup on bass.

“We finished this record awhile ago, back in 2015… we went on tour in September of 2015 and my guitar player (Adam) had been complaining about his back… when we got back from tour he went to the doctor and got diagnosed with cancer and died two and a half months later. It was absolutely devastating,” Liza said. When he passed away, Liza was unsure if that band would move forward. Liza felt the urgency to get Draw out right away. She went to a friend’s birthday dinner and musician, Trixie Whitley was there. The two musicians were discussing the situation and Trixie said, “I know you’re hurting so badly right now and I know how urgent this feels but music doesn’t have an expiration date. It will come out when it’s supposed to come out.” Liza focused her attention on other musical projects in an attempt to heal. Finally, Draw is ready to be released. The record includes both Adam Roth and their new guitarist Tom McCaffrey on it. “It’s the bridge between our past and our future,” Liza explains.

Photo by James Hartley

Liza has looked to Tina Turner and Iggy Pop for performance inspirations. “When I look at Tina as a woman and I think about this with my mom too, there are certain women that you see perform that are so secure in their womanhood and femininity and it’s really sexy and it doesn’t need to be put on… And Iggy Pop because his performance is a spectacle… it’s from another realm and you’re captivated.” Before The Liza Colby Sound, Liza was singing R&B and said she felt like a caged animal. “There was no release… we’ve been together for almost ten years so it’s really evolved… it is legitimate stripped down rock n’ roll and visually it is that too.” Liza began wearing leotards on stage as a part of that visual. “There’s something that’s super important to be on stage in that and conveying to other women to be secure in your own skin.”

Early in the band’s life they were playing a show in the sweltering heat. Liza recalls she was in a leotard and her bassist, Alec, was dressed in corduroy pants, a polyester shirt and a leather jacket. Liza asked if was dying of heat and his response was, “There are no seasons in rock n’ roll.” As a reflection now Liza said, “The more I think about it, it’s true… rock n’ roll is not dead… it’s very much alive and well and I want women and women of color to know I see you.”

The Liza Colby Sound’s EP, Draw will be released on November 17, 2017.

An avid rock musician and enthusiast as well as a rock history buff.

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