The Color Morale has a million stories. I am going to tell you one of them, and like the lyrics from their song, “Suicide;Stigma”, I want you to live. From Rockford, Illinois, post-hardcore metal rockers Garret Rapp (vocals), Devin King (guitar), Steve Carey (drums), Aaron Saunders (guitar), and Mike Honson (bass), use their music to create a family where everyone is accepted equally, without judgment or reservation. It would be easy to tell you what The Color Morale is…so I will tell you what they are not.
Life is not a bowl of cherries. And no one knows that better than Rapp, who did not have a perfect, sitcom life. He finds solace in the moral support he gets from his fans. Through reciprocal respect and affection, Rapp is able to connect with people and make sense of his own past. He says, “It’s funny that kids think they need our band or our music. Maybe they don’t realize how much, I personally, need them. This is the most important resolution I’ve ever found in my life, as to why I have been to the places I’ve been and experienced the things I’ve experienced”. He believes that when he is on stage, it all comes together in a kindred moment with the audience. After the shows, fans often stop by to meet him, sharing authentic stories of how The Color Morale motivated them to keep going, influenced their lives, or inspired them to reach out to someone else. Sharing with the kids who attend the show is essential to The Color Morale support system. It gives Rapp the foundation he needs to stay focused and remain grounded. He explains, “At that moment, everything you’ve experienced in your life has a reason. It makes sense. I feel like I am the richest person on Earth sometimes, because I get to have that recurring epiphany every night”.
The Color Morale is not “music with a message”. It is information, more of a road map to the safe place where you will not be judged or stand alone. In the song, “Developing Negative” the words outline the depth of genuine emotion behind the music. “Addiction is not so much about us overcoming/Sometimes maybe it’s more about us just replacing/Look, you and I will always have this song/Just like I know I had a reason to write it/It’s not just a breathless sing along”. Where many people turn to drugs, alcohol, or harm themselves in order to feel something, Rapp shows that there is a better way. There are positive, uplifting things that can replace self-defeating addictions and provide the same feelings. The Color Morale is there when you need them and it is as easy as putting on the headphones to drown out the rest of the world for a while.
Crisis is not selective. You do not have to come from the wrong side of town, or be abused daily to find yourself in a dark place. Rapp related an overwhelming experience at one of his shows. He peeked out at the audience before they went on stage and saw a crowd of color bright enough to be a field of beautiful flowers. He was thrilled, because they were so young and full of life. Later that evening, Rapp spoke with person after person who showed him scars on their arms and related stories of harming themselves. The song, “Throw Your Roses” says, “Remember I can show you the light/But you will have to learn/How to grow on your own/What is a rose with no thorn”. In short, we each have to live our own lives, whether it be good or bad. But no one has to do it alone.
Leave your pre-conceived notions about The Color Morale at the door. Their live performance was as metal as it gets. They screamed—we jumped. They paused—we kept singing. They raged and we moshed. The audience was not filled with needy, emo kids who want attention. Instead, I met a sea of unique individuals, excited about the music and ready to rock! Rapp’s passionate vocals paired with unrelenting breakdowns and strong lead guitar riffs wind around intense lyrics to create melodies that are palpable. I was exhilarated, because I was not head banging in a room full of strangers. Instead, I was laughing and singing with friends and family. The best part of the evening is that it never ends. Any time—day or night—I can reproduce that same feeling of exhilaration and family, simply by turning up the volume while I jam to Hold on Pain Ends by The Color Morale.