Cole Allen is on 'the other side' with a story to tell
Rochester singer-songwriter talks dark roots, uplifting message of new EP.
Cole Allen turned over a new leaf -- and wants you to hear about it.
Allen, born in Minneapolis, settled in Rochester about a decade ago. He’s toured, and played extensively at local bars and restaurants, but hadn’t put out a solo EP in nearly a decade.
“I spent most of my life up in Minneapolis and that'll always kind of be home for me, but Rochester is is a little bit less fast-paced than Minneapolis and just feel like it's a great place to raise a family,” Allen said. “I love the sense of community here.”
Allen started work on “The Other Side,” which will be released on Nov. 12, about six months after his daughter Noelle (now 3) was born -- a period of time when he re-examined his values and habits, and made some serious changes.
Changes like getting sober. Fighting off depression. And eventually, he says, coming out on “the other side.”
That meant a big change to Allen’s sound, as well. As his first acoustic album, “The Other Side” is less Jimi Hendrix and more Bob Dylan, he said.
“I also am heavily influenced by a lot of the acoustic and singer-songwriter type of stuff,” Allen said. “It all just feels very true to what my musical tastes are.”
Allen answered a few more questions ahead of the album release and 7 p.m. Nov. 11 show at Forager Brewery.
Most of your previous work has been hard rock, or involved electric guitar, at least. What prompted you to put out an acoustic EP like “The Other Side?”
On that last record that I put out -- that was mainly an electric kind of hard rock ... and the last song at the end... was a song called “End of My Heart” that I ended up recording just solo acoustic, live in the studio. Before then, I had never been much of an acoustic guitar player, or -- I didn't do any acoustic live shows or anything. After that came out and we (did) a video for it, I ended up getting a lot of acoustic shows. And that became a big part of what I do musically. And people have always kind of asked me when I would put out an acoustic album. Over the years, I kind of tried -- I did a lot of starting and stopping with some different acoustic recording sessions, trying to put out a record, and I always kind of felt like I was just recording songs with an acoustic guitar, rather than it being a fully realized acoustic project.
A couple of years ago, I ended up going through some things and getting sober. And when I was going through that, I wrote a lot of songs that had a lot to do with what I was going through at the time. And during the pandemic, you know, we all had a lot of time on our hands, obviously. I realized that I had this group of songs that I thought really helped share part of my story. And so I went in and recorded that, and it's really what this album came to be. It kind of shows what I was going through at the time and then kind of how I came out of that.
Can you talk a little bit about what some of those experiences were?
“The Other Side,” the title track on the CD, is really about me contemplating trying something new. I guess it's like realizing that what I'm currently doing isn't really working out for me, and maybe I need to be open to change and be willing to change, and that I might have a different outcome or have something different than what I'm currently dealing with. And so that was definitely a song that was about of my initial steps towards making some major changes in my life, with sobriety and whatnot. But “Black Cloud,” that song had a lot to do with depression, when I was going through some major depression stuff. If you listened to it, it's probably pretty obvious. Going through different stages of depression and anxiety and hoping to get away from it.
All together, there seems to be a lot of hope in this EP. What are you hoping listeners take away from the release?
A big thing that I hope people will hear when they listen to it, is that it's possible to change and that it's realistic to believe that things can change if you're not in a good place in your life. And you just have to be open and willing to make those changes. That's kind of a big thing for me, you know? The record’s six songs and it's kind of split into two parts, where the first three songs are titled “Sunset” and then the second are titled “Sunrise.” That's kind of how the album flows and it ends with with a song I wrote for my daughter, called “Noelle.” That song was my message to her about what she means to me and what she gave me, because really, it's all for her. She's more than anything, she's the one that really made me want to make some of these big changes in my life.
If you go
What: Cole Allen
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 11
Where: Forager Brewery
More information: See Allen’s other upcoming shows at www.coleallen.net/tour-dates.html . "The Other Side" will be available on all digital download and streaming platforms Nov. 12.