“There are still people that don’t know the singer has changed,” Jonathan Grimes, clean vocalist of Outline in Color, tells Intrigue. “And that’s not their faults. You don’t listen to your favorite band every single day until you don’t have ears.”
In 2011, just two years after the then seven-member metal band formed in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Grimes parted ways. “There was a lot going on in my life,” he says. “I had a really good job that I just got, making exponentially more money than I’ve ever made, got engaged, [and] bought a house…I tried to make sure that my life was going to stay intact.”
Less than one year before his departure, in October 2010, the band independently released their first self-titled EP, which consisted of five original tracks, plus a cover of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” The album was distributed world-wide, and eventually, created enough buzz to earn them a spot in a Victory Records’ showcase. By that time, Grimes had already decided to part ways.
“Touring just wasn’t in the cards for me,” he says. He recalls a five days’ notice he received to shoot a music video and a new job that required one month’s notice to take time off. “I went from being in Outline and another local band a long time ago to zero bands,” he says.
To later take his place would be K.C. Simonsen, who’d help produce three albums, two of which would fall under label StandBy Records. “He has great melodies and lyrics, and tons of things he contributed,” says Grimes. Their 2012 independent track “Jury of Wolves” was merely the beginning of many hits to come, including two re-recorded tracks (“Every Boy Should Collect Knives” and “No Bleeding on the Carpet”) from the band’s first EP.
In December 2016, about nine months following the release of their third full-length album Struggle, the band announced on Facebook another change in their lineup. “Mike [Skaggs] just called me one day and said, ‘Hey, there’s some stuff going on with K.C. and we decided he’s no longer a part of the band, and we want to make music with you again, if you’re down,’” says Grimes.
Although Grimes returned almost immediately, it would be a few months before he played a live show and nearly a year before he would join the band on tour. By September 2017, they released three new singles “Three Knee Deep,” “Year 8” and an acoustic version of “The Chase Scene” from their first album Jury of Wolves. They also began work on a fourth full-length album, which would be produced independently and was tentatively scheduled for release in early fall of 2018. But that never happened.
We wanted to put the time into it that we needed to, to make sure we didn’t cut corners, Grimes tells Intrigue. “We sat in a room for two weeks restructuring parts, structuring other parts, writing lyrics and saying ‘No, that sucks.’”
On Jan. 10, the band released their first track “Broken Record” off what would become their self-titled album. Scheduled to drop on Feb. 8, the upcoming album consists of 12 songs, two of which have already been released to the public. One unreleased track features rapper Kyle Lucas, who toured with the band in Japan in June 2018.
“We’ve seen him appear on different tracks, like with Jonny Craig,” says Grimes, who learned more about Lucas’ work after their tour. “He told us, ‘If you guys ever want me to do a feature, I’m totally down.’”
Although Lucas became the only artist outside of Outline in Color featured on the new record, Grimes says he wasn’t the only considered. “We’re really good friends with Shayley [Bourget] from [the original lineup of] Of Mice and Men,” he says. “We were planning on getting with him and asking him to see if he would do something.”
The band only decided against it after realizing how quickly they were producing tracks on their own. “This whole album was a collective [effort],” says Grimes. “Every single person contributed.”
Not unlike previous albums, Outline in Color focuses on topics like depression, anxiety, betrayal and even suicide. “We would all just sit in a room and try to figure out things that we wanted to talk about because Outline’s M.O. is talking about things that are hard to talk about,” says Grimes. “For example, with “Broken Record,” we wanted to talk about things that sometimes people don’t get the chance to experience or may not have anyone else that understands. At the time [it was written], I was going through a rough relationship, where basically I had to decide…if [I was] going to be with this person for the rest of my life. Eventually I decided no.”
Other tracks like “Smother Me” and “A Living Nightmare” touch upon the pitfall of being your own worst enemy, while “Vulture” offers a glimpse into relationship abuse. Then there are songs about hope like “Spark.” “[“Spark” is] one of those things where you’re fighting an uphill battle and just [decide] ‘Fuck it…I’m not gonna let myself and my life be dictated by bad things,’” says Grimes.
What may be one of their most interesting tracks to make an appearance is “Absence of Control,” a roughly two-minute long title that references the band’s previous works, and acts as a bridge between the album’s more poppy-punk mixes and its heavier beats. “We just wanted to have a nice separation in the middle of the album that’s kind of like an interlude,” says Grimes. “But honestly, it was more for fans [to see if they] could spot the things in there that are references to previous albums.”
Despite everything this upcoming album is, don’t be fooled by what it’s not. While the band often references religion, Grimes clarifies that Outline in Color is not a religious band. Rather, their lyrics toy with the often asked, but left unanswered question “Why would God allow this kind of a thing to happen to good people?” says Grimes.
Ultimately, their upcoming album is about anything and everything you want it to be. “We put so much of everything into this record, I really just hope people take well to it,” says Grimes, who’s been spending all his free time coordinating the band’s social media. “We try to respond to every single person we can,” he adds.
At the time Jury of Wolves was released — an album that was independently produced — Grimes remembers the support from fans, especially those from the band’s hometown, despite his absence. With this upcoming album, he says he feels like they finally have back that support. This time, they’ll be using it to tour coast-to-coast in the U.S. — at least for now.
“We do want to do more international touring,” he says. “We want to go back to Australia. We want to go back to Japan. We love both of them.” But if he had to pick one, his next choice would be Canada — although he reveals that it’s not currently an option. However, he assures, nothing is off-limits; not even a future all-acoustic album. “We have thought about doing more acoustic songs,” he says. “It could eventually be a thing.”
Until then, we’ll just have to settle for their upcoming album’s acapella-style ending. “Trevor [Tatro] was recording vocals and he came up with this really cool ending,” says Grimes. “I came home and was just like ‘I love that. What’s after it?’ He was just like, ‘We kind of just ended it. I don’t really know.’”
And that ending is exactly what ties the entire album together, says Grimes.
Preorder their self-titled album for $10.00.