No Sinner Interview: Colleen Rennison

Canadian blues rock band No Sinner have not been around long, but they are definitely making themselves known and in a big way. Fronted by the volcanic vocalist Colleen Rennison, they have taken the blues and given it a branding of their own infusing soul and rock. Now setting off on the European tour, Blues Rock Review caught up with Rennison before their debut show at The Black Heart in London.

So this is your debut showcase in London, how’s the city treating you so far?

So far I haven’t got to see much of it, I’ve been pretty busy. It’s just been wild. I haven’t been here since I was a little girl and it’s so beautiful and it’s a hub with so many things I would like to go out and experience.

What inspired you to be become the musician you are today?

The Little Mermaid, I think we’ve got a lot in common. She was a wayward teenager with big dreams and wanted to escape. That’s the funny thing about those Disney movies, they tell you to follow your heart and be all rebellious. Then you turn into an adult and you’re supposed to put all of those things away and if you don’t want to, you become a musician.

And musical influence?

I started off with Motown. I remember watching that movie My Girl and hearing The Temptations at the end of it and at that point it didn’t even occur to me that it was black people singing and the same with The Supremes. I would listen and this whole world opened up to me. That was the first with The Supremes, Aretha Franklin and girl groups from the 1950s and ’60s.

What was it like making your record Boo Hoo Hoo?

It’s been a long process. I started writing it with Parker when we were a really new band and since we’ve been touring more we added some new songs and released the EP. We released a few songs we recorded after that and took a song off because we felt it didn’t represent who we were as a live band. It’s been an interesting process, this is the first time I’ve really been able to create something that is part of me and I’m proud of.

No Sinner
No Sinner

The album has heavy themes surrounding sacredness and sinning.  How and why did these topics come into your writing?

It’s life. It’s a struggle that everybody goes through, especially as an artist. You become this antenna for the creativity you find and to be open to that you have to be open to everything: the bad, the ugly. It’s how you deal with those things and that’s what rock ‘n’ roll and blues is all about. I’ve never really found anything else worth singing about.

As a band performing live, which tracks do you love to play?

One of my favorite tracks from the album is the cover “Work Song.” It was a Nina Simone song and we have so much fun with it. We didn’t really change it, except from swing to more of a straight rhythm. There are so many great songs out there that you want to cover. You almost feel ridiculous trying to write new material and you think who am I to try and step into this ocean of greatness. It is fun to play our songs and it can be hard to believe they are our songs.

I noticed that on your website you have a bit of merchandise for sale; T-shirts, vests, vinyls and shot glasses. Any particular reason for the shot glass?

Yeah, we keep breaking them. They don’t travel very well. I’m also a big fan of the milk of mercy and we’ve been able to leave a couple of shot glasses at some venues we’ve played at, which is a nice souvenir for them.

So you’ve got a lot of European shows filling up the rest of the year, what are your plans for 2014?

We definitely want to go down to South by Southwest and come back for some European festivals, because you always hear so many great things about those. That’s kind of why we are here, to set up relationships so we can keep coming back. I want to tour the United States and we’re hoping to release another album by the end of 2014, if not then early 2015. Can’t believe I’m saying that, time has just flown by.

No Sinner’s debut mini album Boo Hoo Hoo is released in the UK by Provogue Records on Monday January 20th. Further info:

Boo Hoo Hoo

Interview by George Ward

Photos: Will Ireland

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