I am fortunate to know four incredibly talented guys: Colby Long, Mike Arroyo, Matt Lemine, and Ben Burnley, also known as Chaotic Transit. They are an “Indie Alternative” band that originated right here in Tallahassee, continuing to grow and expand their fan base, having shows at venues all over the place. And if that’s not enough to get you intrigued, Facebook lists their band interests as, “Breaking things, coffee, music, racquetball, soccer, tea, crepes, and disc golf.” They’re just such interesting, complex humans! I had the opportunity to sit down with these guys last week and discuss their passion and craft: music.
Her Campus (HC): Give us the run down. Who’s in the band?
Colby Long (CL): Well, we are a four-piece band. I sing and play electric guitar with some piano thrown in there every now and then. Matt plays drums as well as keys from time to time. Mike plays bass and sings back up. And essentially Ben plays whatever we tell him to, but that mostly means lead guitar depending on the day.
HC: How did you all get together?
Mike Arroyo (MA): We all are friends in college. We met at the Wesley Foundation on campus. Mike, Colby, and Ben started leading worship together and Matt came around a year after that. Also, we were all roommates last year, so it was really organic to spend time playing music together.
CL: Yeah, I also think it’s important to note that Ben wasn’t originally a part of the band. Our buddy Will Newton who also goes to Wesley with us was playing lead when we started up. He graduated though so he is working for “the man” now.
HC: How did you come up with the name Chaotic Transit?
CL: Chaotic Transit is interesting. Most people wouldn’t believe it after hearing us play, but we started as a worship project. Back when it was just Mike and I, we started writing a worship EP and were about to release it when we decided we didn’t really want to play that scene. So we started reworking all the songs into what we have today. Somewhere in that process we thought of “Chaotic Transit,” which roughly represents a transition of someone’s life trying to perceive God in their surroundings.
Disclaimer: We aren’t out to convert people haha. We just want to write about things we are passionate about and for us that is often faith, but not faith exclusively.
HC: What are your musical influences?
Matt Lemine (ML): MuteMath, Fleet Foxes, Phoenix.
MA: Young the Giant and MuteMath. Also, it’s kind of embarrassing, but I enjoy listening to Latin music because it’s very different and on the more unconventional side of music which is cool.
CL: Just to throw a few more in there: Death Cab for Cutie, Band of Horses, Ben Howard, John Mark McMillan, Manchester Orchestra, and Seryn. Essentially, we all love music so it’s hard to boil it down to just a couple.
HC: If you could collaborate with one famous musician/band who would it be?
ML: GIVERS. They have such a unique sound and style and I think we would all love to work with them.
CL: YES. We all love GIVERS. Also, Death Cab, just because I have the biggest man-crush, lyric-writing crush on Ben Gibbard.
HC: Do you have an album? Tell us about it. Favorite song? Inspiration?
MA: We have a six-song EP titled, “Burning Ever Brightly.” We recorded it with our friend Kevin Cook last year. My personal favorite song is “Carpet of Warriors” because it’s a fun song to play and it has a nice, folky undertone to it in my opinion.
ML: “Cavaliers” is my favorite.
Ben Burnley (BB): “Cavaliers” is my favorite too. It’s a more mellow sound which gives a nice contrast, but it also really drives later on.
CL: Mine is “Leaves.” I just love the energy that naturally comes out of it whenever we play it.
HC: Any big plans or events coming up for Chaotic Transit?
MA: We are working on going on tour over the summer so for spring semester we are mainly working on playing around Tallahassee/Florida more and getting some exposure before we leave.
CL: Just getting exposure and getting enough money to pay the bills while we are traveling. That sounds petty, but it’s honest.
BB: Also, we are working on putting together a music video for one of our songs with Matt’s cousin, Daniel Head. He is a film student at FSU and we are really excited to see how it plays out.
HC: Why do you think music is important? How has it impacted your life?
ML: Music is important because it’s a raw outlet for creativity. It’s something that you can never truly stop working at. There is always another goal to reach as a musician, whether it be mastering technique or managing the business of a band.
MA: It has an impact on everyone. Music runs in everyone’s blood. I haven’t met one person who doesn’t like at least some kind of music. Also, music is universal and it helps unite people from everywhere. It stirs people’s emotions in unexplainable ways. I know that personally, not a day goes by where I don’t listen to at least some sort of music.
CL: Music has impacted me personally because it gives me an outlet. I’m a guy. When I have emotions I can’t just grab a carton of ice cream and put Sex in the City on repeat. I normally just bottle it up (I realize that I probably just offended most human ladies that read this with that incredibly overarching generalization and I apologize for that). But what I’ve found is that music is my chance to say what I’m feeling. And the best part about it is our audience can choose to listen to me whine or not, but still enjoy the music either way.
HC: What’s the weirdest or most embarrassing thing to happen during a show?
ML: We played an acoustic show at Red Eye a while back. Being next to Midtown Filling Station a couple of bystanders danced outside behind us while we were playing inside.
CL: Matt’s going to kill me for saying this, but he worked a shift the night we played a show at Rehab in Tallahassee (yeah, funny name). He told me he’d be there at least 30 minutes before we went on, but I guess he had one of the tables that just didn’t feel like leaving even though the restaurant closed 30 minutes ago. So we stalled for as long as we could and had to go on without him. We seriously played half our set without him just guitars and bass. It was so incredibly embarrassing and awkward. I could see the booking agent regretting his decision to get us. I even asked Will at one point if he knew the lyrics so I could go play drums. It was overall just a disheartening night. We laugh about it now though.
HC: What’s the dream for Chaotic Transit? Are you all just a college band or do you hope to be playing sold out arenas, festivals, etc.?
MA: I don’t think CT is just a college band. However, I think my dream for Chaotic Transit is to be self-sustainable to where we play enough shows to be able to support our families and ourselves. I don’t know that I want to sell out arenas or any of that as much, but if we are given the opportunity to play on such a stage I wouldn’t be opposed to it.
CL: Yeah, my dream is just to keep playing, keep the project going, and have fun. Obviously I’d love for this to be sufficient financially, but we’ve got to be realistic. Honestly, who doesn’t want to make their hobby, where their passions are, their full-time profession? It’d be great. And we are definitely on our way if we keep working at it. We have a great fan/family/friend-base that supports us more than we could ever ask of them.
HC: Go on and shamelessly plug!
CL: Well here goes the credits! I’ll just reel it all off. Honestly, even if you hate us, giving us the extra “like” or two on these sites is really helpful. It helps us build an online fan-base, you get to see all the stupid stuff we do around town, and maybe you’ll find yourself at one of our shows eventually. Also, BUY OUR CD! It’s on iTunes. Search “Chaotic Transit.” It’s only like five bucks. So let’s be real, you can skip Taco Tuesday ONE WEEK and eat at home. It’ll be worth it. Then you can let us serenade you in your car on the way to Taco Tuesday every week, forevermore.
Twitter & Instagram: @ChaoticTransit