Learn to Sing
||Kenny Collins is the lead singer of Logan, a rock band coming to us from Glasgow, Scotland. They already have 3 albums to their discography: First Leaf Fallen (2003), Welcome to the Wasteland (2004) and Cruel Little World (2006). Despite being an unsigned band, Logan has done remarkably well on the UK rock chart with singles from its last two albums making it to the Top 20 (notably “When I Get Down” and “Hallowed Ground”). Logan won an award for New Music from The UK Glasswerks in 2007. You might have seen Logan perform as an opener for Bon Jovi and Alter Bridge. Logan is currently one of the hottest upcoming rock bands.|
|Interview by: Valerie Bastien|
can you tell us a
little bit about Logan for our readers that
might not know you yet?
Kenny: We are a Scottish band hailing from Glasgow. We’ve been on the road for about five years now. We got together through the love of the scene that came from the music. American music is really where our influences come from. So when we got in a room and started just to play together it was easy. Not everybody has exactly the same tastes. We like slightly different kinds of music but that came out great because it gave us new ideas. We came out by doing everything by ourselves, like organizing our world tour and shows; we try to please as many crowds in the UK as possible. It’s been really crazy! We managed to get radio play, which has just gotten us more and more notice. And then came the support for Alter Bridge, which was really nice to bring our music to a greater audience.
Valerie: You’re on an independent label, so having your music play on the radio is an accomplishment in itself.
Kenny: Yeah, that’s unbelievable when you think of it!
Valerie: As you know, this interview will be mostly related to the voice, so many of the questions will relate to your singing. So the next question is how did you learn to sing and how did you develop your singing style?
Kenny: To be honest, I really just started singing out of necessity. When I was 16, I joined a band in school. They needed a singer and I just took the step in there. I really didn’t have any experience; I wasn’t very good! But when I started listening more and more to different bands and different singers, I started to develop my own style. Like I said before, I was really influenced by American bands; particularly the grunge scene. Obviously that was the big thing when I was just started to get into music, so I think I’ve got a lot of my Creed influence from that. Especially when I started playing in cover bands, which meant that I had to try to imitate that singer. So through trying to sing cover songs, it helped me find my own.
Valerie: Do you think it was hard afterwards to try to find your own personality when you were used to imitating other singers?
Kenny: Yeah, I think a lot of people—particularly people that come and see your shows—start to tell you, “Oh, you sing with that style” but you don’t want to sound like somebody else. So it took a long time. But I’m pretty happy with what I’ve come up with now. I feel comfortable and I think that with the practice that I’ve been doing I’ve been able to develop a tone. When I listen back to myself, I can say: “Oh, I don’t want to do that again!” and try something else. It might not be the most professional way to go about it but…
Valerie: Well, everybody does it. It’s not a question of being professional or not; I mean it’s a way to learn. Trial and error! So you don’t have a vocal coach then? Have you taken any voice lessons?
Kenny: About a year ago, I really wanted to find out about how to sing properly so I went to have a vocal coach in Glasgow. He basically started me from scratch. I had to almost forget everything, which was so difficult! And he started to talk to me about diaphragmatic singing and different ways to breathe; how it always has to come from the diaphragm and he was telling me about things that I just didn’t know about. But it was amazing to be able to think about the mechanics that there is and the wrong way to do it when you’re used to it. When you’re breathing, you shouldn’t be lifting your shoulders up!
Kenny: That was a bad habit that I was doing and I didn’t notice it. He actually had me breathe while holding two weights so I wouldn’t do that.
Valerie: Ah, that’s a good idea!
Kenny: So that helped, but I only went there for about six months or something… Then I kept going through some things so I couldn’t go back, but I would love to sit with somebody and learn more about it. It’s fascinating.
Valerie: Yeah, I think so too. And it’s funny because most of the time, the problems we develop are so far away from what really is natural. Singing is natural; it should feel natural and we try so hard that we get away from it. We have to go back to the basics. When I speak to different rock singers, some like to warmup their voice before the show and some don’t because they say they want to…
Kenny: Save it for the performance?
Valerie: Yeah. So what do you do?
Kenny: I can see the sense in both mentalities. I like to warmup slightly but not to push it too much. So I just do soft humming, the lip trills, and in between, I just take hot fluids. Lots of water and hot drinks! Another thing that I learned the singer in a band called Thunder, is he used to tell me that he spent a lot of time in the shower just to get all the steam in his voice. He also doesn’t talk to anybody before a show so I’m very quiet. And when possible, I try to get in the shower and get all the steam in. I don’t want to warmup too much and then have nothing left for the show.
Valerie: Yeah, that makes sense! You also do a lot of grit in your singing. Do you have a special technique for your grit?
Kenny: No! It seems to just have happened… I’m not sure how it happens but it’s there, which is good, because I’m happy with it. I think back to my early days when I didn’t have it and I tried to force it too much and then the next day I would just have a very sore throat. I hated that because I thought, “If I ever go on tour, I’m not gonna be able to cope with singing night after night.” But it seems to have just become part of the natural tone so I don’t have to push to achieve that.
Valerie: Well, you probably have your placement right. I can’t do the grit; I know girls can do it too, but I can’t! But what people say is that they focus the resonance towards the soft palate and that’s how they keep the vocal cords from rubbing each other too much. So you’re probably doing that naturally.
Kenny: Thank goodness!
Valerie: My next question is how do you maintain vocal health on tour?
Kenny: Just by trying not to talk too much and I don’t drink on tour at all. The rest of the boys do and that’s OK. They party every night, but they don’t have to sing everyday!
Valerie: You could party on water!
Kenny: (Laughs) I’m not very exciting; I’m not a big party animal! I just try to keep away from the partying. I try to eliminate germs; otherwise, I tend to get sick. So I just try to keep clean and healthy.
Valerie: Very good! I heard that you opened for Bon Jovi not long ago in front of 40,000 people. That’s pretty impressive. Were you nervous?
Kenny: It’s the most nervous I’ve ever been in my life. In fact, just before the show I looked up over the stage to see the people there and there were just thousands. Because it was a stadium, there were even people pouring down the aisles, coming down running. I thought, “I don’t think I’m gonna be able to do this!” So honestly, I’ve never been so nervous!
Valerie: How did you overcome the stress?
Kenny: You’ve just got to… Well, it’s good because when you’re in a band particularly, the rest of the boys will see that you’re really struggling and they’ll come up and help you. They really get behind you. They’ll say, “Come on, let’s do this!” And all they really have to do is get you to the front of the stage. And as soon as the first song is happening, the nerves just go and then—particularly when that song’s done and everybody starts to cheer…
Valerie: You get your confidence back.
Kenny: Everything is OK again and it just feels that it’s everything that you’ve come for. All the practice pays off and everything falls into place. It was just like any other show but a fantastic experience.
Valerie: How did you get that gig? I mean, that’s pretty good!
Kenny: We won a competition for bands in Glasgow. We send a demo tape to the radio station and they picked the best band so… It was awesome!
Kenny: Thank you!
Valerie: That must have brought a lot of exposure to your band.
Kenny: We played a show in Glasgow shortly after that and it was a total sell-out because so many people saw us at that concert and enjoyed the show so much!
Valerie: Fantastic! So your latest album Cruel Little World was re-released a few days ago, I saw that on your MySpace. Can you tell us about that?
Kenny: We wanted to make the best record we could make. We recorded two albums before this one and there were always things that we weren’t happy with, so we really wanted to take it up a notch for that one. We wanted to make a longer album, so we went back into the studios and we recorded three more tracks for it, which really can affect the dynamics and the vibe of an album. So once it was done and we listened through it, it was the best— the best that we have done so far.
Valerie: Vocally speaking, what is your favourite song on this album then?
Kenny: Oh… Let me think of a particular one… I think the best one and the most popular one is “When I Get Down”. We usually play it at the end of every set. And everybody sings along to it. It’s unbelievable when you hear all these people sing your song. It’s fantastic and it’s a joy to sing, especially when people are singing along with you. So I think that vocally and melodically, it seems to work somehow and I don’t know what the reason is for its success.
Valerie: Did you write that song?
Kenny: Well, it was between the two guitarists and myself. They brought the music and the melody was easy. I always think that when great music happens the melody just fits in. It always seems to work. It was one of those things that we work at so quickly as well.
Valerie: Yeah, I hear that a lot of the songs that are really successful don’t take long to write. It just happens like that.
Kenny: And it’s weird because all those songs can be really difficult when you think about where to go from here and “Could you make a bridge for this?” and when you think about putting the melody in there, what’s the best way to fit this in… But for that song, it was easy. I prefer it when it’s easy! I’m lazy!
Valerie: No! You just don’t want to kill yourself at it every time! It doesn’t have to be hard to be good! Who said that it had to be hard? Last question: Can you tell us where and when we can see your band play for the next few weeks or months?
Kenny: Sure! For the next few weeks, we will be on tour with Alter Bridge. We are touring the UK, and for the first time ever, we are taking a short trip to Europe. So we’ll be doing that up until December 10th, I think. And then, we’ll come home for a couple of weeks off to relax.
Valerie: Thank you very much!
Kenny: No problem!
Valerie Bastien is a vocal coach, teacher, musician and freelance journalist.
Unauthorized distribution, transmission or republication of this content is strictly prohibited.
© 2010-2011 Voice Yourself Inc. All rights reserved.