One of the most-anticipated shows of this year’s Savannah Stopover Music Festival was an appearance by KOLARS, the duo consisting of band namesake Rob Kolar and his wife Lauren Brown. The festival took place March 8-10 in downtown Savannah, Georgia, and KOLARS made it to the city on show day with no problem, a relief since it was storming north of Savannah and the pair had recently endured the wrath of the so-called “bomb cyclone” that wreaked havoc on a good portion of the eastern seaboard.
AXS sat down with Rob and Lauren before their Savannah Stopover show to talk about the weather, touring, and what it’s like to shoot a music video out in the California desert among a bunch of giant bugs. Their commentary below is given exclusively to AXS.com.
AXS: Tell us about getting caught in the bomb cyclone.
Rob Kolar: It was a nightmare maze, almost like a video game. We’re trying to drive down one road, and that one gets shut down. So we make a U-turn and turn down another road, and that one gets shut down. We turn down another street and a tree had just fallen and smashed a car and the car is destroyed on the road. We’re trying to make our sound check at 6 pm but then our ETA went to 7 pm, then 8, then 8:30. We’re trying to get over the river just outside of Baltimore.
Lauren Brown: It took us eight and a half hours and we didn’t even stop anywhere to pee! Rob peed in a bottle!
RK: Yeah I peed in a bottle. We ended up arriving at 10 pm and loaded our gear straight onto the stage. We played for just 35-minutes because there was a curfew at that venue with an 11 pm cut-off time.
AXS: Did you get a good crowd despite the weather?
LB: We actually did.
RK: People caught word of what was going on and they weren’t sure if we were going to arrive. But they were pretty happy when we did.
AXS: Well at least you made it to Savannah Stopover with no problems. Is this your first time at the festival?
RK: It is.
AXS: So you know the “stopover” in the festival’s name refers to the fact that lots of bands are “stopping over” in Savannah on their way to South by Southwest in Austin next week. Does that apply to KOLARS?
LB: I didn’t know that. Yes, it does apply to us. We’re stopped over!
RK: Yes, we have to be in Austin pretty soon. So that drive might end up being the worst.
AXS: Better stock up on bottles!
AXS: What about the video for “One More Thrill.” You’re out in the desert among some weird sculptures. Where was that filmed?
RK: That was at Borrego Springs, California. Not too far from the Salton Sea.
LB: It was super-hot.
RK: Lauren almost keeled over and died during that.
LB: Yeah, Rob was like, “Are you gonna be okay?” and then he almost keeled over and died three hours after that.
AXS: And Lauren, you made a lot of costume changes. Did you have an RV or something to change in, or were you like changing behind a big cactus?
LB: Actually I was! Those giant bug sculptures that were in the video? One of them offered a bit of shade so I was changing behind one of those. And drinking a lot of water.
AXS: One of the unique things about a KOLARS performance is that Lauren tap dances out rhythms atop a bass drum. When did you first learn how to tap?
LB: I started tap dancing when I was about six years old. I was in a dance company for a long time, all throughout high school, and I studied ballet and jazz as well but I quit those other dance forms and I stayed with tap because it was my favorite. Then I went to college for experimental theater and I found ways to incorporate percussion and my feet into the theater creations that I would make at school. But I never thought I would pursue tap or that tap would be part of my life. And then when Rob and I started working together musically, it was his idea to have me tap with the band that he had with his sister at the time, using it as percussion as opposed to having a drummer. A kind of castanets feel. From there it grew; I was tapping alongside a drummer then the drummer quit. So I learned how to play the drums, and then play the drums and keep the tap, first on a piece of wood and then on a block of wood, to my first drum formation and now on my current drum.
RK: It’s been a real evolution. It was never intended at the beginning that Lauren was going to drum and tap at the same time. It was almost the audience too; they were desiring more drums and more energy on stage, so Lauren progressed and evolved with that. Now she’s throwing down! It’s an impressive thing to see. As a performer on stage, I look over and think, “Wow!”
AXS: Is that a special head on that drum?
LB: It is. We started with plywood but then we noticed it would chip and crack, and weather changes would make the wood feel differently to dance on. So now I have maple wood which has been the best so far.
AXS: KOLARS has a big tour coming up in the UK soon. Do you plan on doing anything tourist-y while you’re there?
RK: We’ve been talking about Spain, or possibly Morocco.
LB: After the bomb cyclone we’re just fantasizing about warm weather and beaches. That’s our fantasy.
Follow KOLARS here.
Information on the 2019 Savannah Stopover Music Festival will be posted here.