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Why Colin Gawel Is Rewriting The Book Of Rock

 Alexandra Kelley Fox
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Few Columbus musicians are as well known as Colin Gawel. A spitfire on the scene for more than two decades as frontman of Watershed, he’s now also a solo artist. And a small business owner, husband, and father. And with his newly created “Rock & Roll Stimulus Plan,” he’s becoming somewhat of a sage, inspiring other musicians to shun big labels, demand earlier set times, and replace full-length albums with EP’s. He’ll release his second EP, “Superior,” at the Rumba Café on Friday night.

Colin launched his acoustic-guitar-driven solo career last May with the release of the EP “Chemotherapy.” He knew that the music industry was changing and wanted to evolve in a way that made sense. “I’m going to be playing music my whole life,” he said. “When I play, I want it to count.” So he began pondering new ways of recording and releasing material. His first conclusion was that the era of full-length albums is over. He’d rather release an EP every six months than an LP every couple of years because it alleviates pressure, enables him to release a steady stream of content, and lets him focus on smaller amounts of songs at a time. He experienced resistance from several music industry friends, but if there’s one person who’s unafraid to be a pioneer, it’s Colin. Major label tyranny is over, and there are no longer gatekeepers wedged between musicians and listeners. “It used to be such a struggle to make your music available,” he said. “Now you don’t need to have albums in every store if you’re on iTunes.”

In addition to playing music, Colin owns a coffee shop in Upper Arlington and is an active family man. Balancing so many different responsibilities forces him to be vigilant about managing his schedule. Several musicians nowadays juggle performing with full-time jobs and families, but he feels like it’s all part of the process. He also believes that the stigma of aging will soon begin to disappear. “Somehow, people think that artistically you’re not as good as you were when you were young,” he said. “That’s asinine. It’s not like painters or writers get worse over time. I think people use age as a copout. If you’re committed to what you’re doing, you can draw on all of your experiences.”

An impressive lineup of Columbus musicians has supported Colin’s solo project. His live band The Lonely Bones consists of Dan Cochran, Rick Kinsinger, and Herb Schupp. He enlisted Jeff Ciampa, Jesse Cooper, Andy Harrison, Dave Masica, Megan Palmer, Joe Peppercorn, and Dave Schul as contributors on “Superior,” which was produced by Michael Landolt at Curry House Records. “You can’t ask for a better place to be in a band than Columbus, and if you don’t think that, you just haven’t been around,” he said. “It has everything you could ask for.” Mostly, Colin is excited to plunge into the new musical frontier and to keep recording material. “There are so many more exciting ways to reach people than there used to be,” he said. “It’s kind of like the Wild West. But in the end, all that really matters is that you’re happy with what you’ve created.”

Colin’s EP release show this Friday night will begin at 8:00 with an acoustic set by Keith Jenkins. Colin and The Lonely Bones will go on at 9:30. The $10 cost of admission includes a copy of “Superior.” For more information, visit colingawel.com.

Alexandra Kelley is a featured writer for Columbus Underground and can be reached at alexandra477.com.

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