In Conversation with…COASTS

Bristol based quintet Coasts are currently storming venues across the UK on their A Rush of Blood tour, in promotion of the titular single and their forthcoming début album, which will grace our ears sometime this summer. Perfect for a band that thrive with their tropical, summery sound, but there is much more to this band than meets the eye as we found out when we caught up with the band before their gig in Manchester last Wednesday. The tour will also see them gracing stages across Europe in the coming months, before they embark on a summer filled with festival appearances.

I caught up with Ben (drums) and Liam (guitar) from the band to discuss their current tour, their inspirations, recording their début album, tour essentials and much, much more.

Firstly, I’d like to say thanks for this interview. What’s one thing that we should all know about Coasts that we might not know about you yet? 

Ben: We are all great friends from uni. It’s not a great thing though, there must be something better than that!

Liam: I think that we’ve just done our début album and we’re pretty excited about it. It’s gonna be good, it sounds pretty summery, we’re coming for the summer basically.

Ben: There’s a lot of summer anthems on there.

Being based in Bristol, a city that is in close proximity to the sea and the edge of land, what I might say are possible influencing factors for songwriters. Your music surges and rushes with tropical notes and seemingly is inspired by the ocean. Do you feel like you take inspiration from your surroundings?

Liam: I think that as a band you need to focus on something to give you a complete direction and we felt that whilst living in Bristol, we spent one particular summer rehearsing somewhere in Bristol, and it all came together. Yeah, I think you’re right that the surroundings definitely influence that, the time of the year and stuff, it all sort of clicked, we all got really inspired by all of that and that helped to forge who we are. Then we’ve been able to hopefully grow a bit from there.

Ben: It’s a very liberal music scene in Bristol, so we could grow whichever way we wanted.

Liam: Yeah, we needed that as a core I think, that helped develop the core of Coasts and we’ve been able to develop from there, that’s at the heart.

You’re only the second night into the tour, how was last night’s show in Norwich? Was it a good start to the tour?

Ben: Ahh, it was amazing.

Liam: Yeah it was absolutely amazing.

Ben: It was a really cool venue, it was an old church that they’ve adapted, sound was good. There was 200 people there? Real good crowd.

Liam: It feels like this tour’s probably a little bit of a step up from our last tour, just for ourselves because we’ve done our album now, we know the songs that we’re playing, it’s given it a bit of solidity. We know what we’ve got in the bank and that gives you a lot of confidence because even though people haven’t heard the songs, you know that those are the songs that are going to be on your début album, so you play them with a bit of a different head because of that.

Ben: There’s a freshness to them as well, so that was the first time we’ve played some of those songs, in a new venue to us and stepping up as well you get better sound, you’re getting to concentrate on everything the whole vision as well.

Liam: It allows you to develop as an artist in terms of the live show, we really feel like we’re getting to grips with playing live, we’ve done a couple of tours before and this one we really feel like our showmanship is getting better and the crowds are getting more responsive so that’s exciting.

Ben: But no palm tree, one step forward but another step back [laughs]. We normally have a palm tree on stage, but we left it at our rehearsal rooms, so things aren’t quite as tropical.

It’s my first time seeing you guys live tonight and obviously I’m super excited. I’m anticipating a really great show, for others in my shoes that are new to your live shows, what can we all be expecting to see and hear from a Coasts show?

Liam: I think we decided a little while back that we basically wanted it to be a bit of a party and we’ve tried to get a collection of songs together that when we play live they’re very instant and they’ve got a lot of energy. We wanted our first album to be quite instant and then hopefully that will then come across in the live show. We want to people to really enjoy themselves and hopefully have a bit of a dance.

Ben: It’s quite eclectic as well, you can expect to hear a lot of pieces of different genres, different elements from right across the board. You should enjoy it hopefully.

I’m always interested to know what bands get up to during the day before a gig, what the process is. So I wanted to ask you just that. What do you get up to before a show and do you have any pre-show rituals?

Liam: It’s pretty boring unfortunately, there’s a lot of waiting around. But in terms of right before, pre-show, we’re all massive football fans so if there’s a football match on, we always watch football. Then apart from that I guess we try and eat together as well, sort of like a family thing. It’s nice to all sit down and have some food. Everyone sort of goes off and does their own bit before the actual show starts.

Ben: Burritos are a bit of a ritual sometimes.

Liam: Yeah we like Mexican food a lot.

What’s the playlist in the van sounding like right now?

Liam: Ahh, the playlist in the van is always eclectic. We like anything from pretty shameless pop music, we’ve got a pretty shameless taste in music, we play like garage, UK garage, rap, we like Drake, we like Calvin Harris, then we like indie bands.

Ben: Future Islands.

Liam: We like The 1975, we like old stuff like The Cure, The Smiths, Joy Division.

Ben: 60’s – The Supremes, Diana Ross.

Liam: Literally it’s one of those things were people always say they like everything, but we actually do listen to everything in the van, as long as it’s a good song, we like it.

What are your tour essentials?

Ben: On the rider we always have to have Gin and Tonic because it’s the best drink to avoid nasty hangovers definitely. Say if we had too much lager, then it’s too heavy and we always have Berocca. Vitamin C to keep you healthy. Toothbrush, toothpaste [laughs].

You’ve got a lot of festivals booked for this summer, any one that you are particularly looking forward to the most?

Ben: Yeah, there’s Great Escape, which we’re really, really excited about.

Ahh yeah everyone’s playing that.

Liam: Yeah everyone’s playing it. We played it last year, we played at like 12 o clock, we got announced really, really late. We weren’t actually on the bill, so it was really cool. It’s gonna be nice to play, we’re playing in the evening now, and that’s gonna be awesome to play a show in the evening because we played at 12 o clock on the Saturday last time and most people hadn’t even got out of bed at that point because it was the last day and they’d been probably hitting it quite hard over the previous days and staying out late. So this time we’re in the evening and hopefully there’s no excuse but to come and watch us.

Ben: Live at Leeds.

You clearly are fans of vinyl having released your début EP that way. What are your thoughts on the way the industry is heading digitally, and the resurgence of love for vinyl that’s been happening recently?

Liam: I collect a lot of vinyl. I try to get every album that I think  is a classic in my eyes, on vinyl and I’ve got a nice vinyl player but I haven’t got anywhere to put it at the moment. But it’s just so nice to have something physical. We started the band a few years ago and my biggest ambition at that point was to have a vinyl and slowly, but surely you get there and I never thought we’d get there so it’s pretty awesome to have that and to be able to have an actual physical copy of your record. But as soon as you get that, you want the next thing.

But I think it’s really important that vinyl is always on offer because I think that CD’s are gonna go the way of the dinosaur. Mp3’s are cool as well like it’s really good that people worldwide can have access to music instantly, you know when we released our first single, people were downloading it all over the world, you can’t obviously achieve that with physical. So that’s important and it’s amazing when someone’s downloading it in America.

Ben: I think it’s nice to have vinyl for the purists, people that are really passionate. You know they want to get a physical product and then have the mp3’s to reach as many people as we can over the world, so I think that’s the way the music industry is going.

Any vinyl’s that wanna pick up for Record Store Day?

Liam: Ohhh, I don’t know what’s coming out. I have a little list on my laptop of vinyl’s I want to get but I’m never that sharp on Record Store Day because I always just want to get the actual album. I’m not so keen on singles. I like being able to play 3 or 4 songs at once, but at the moment I really want Hatful Of Hollow by The Smiths. That’s the only Smiths record I haven’t got, that’s not a Record Store Day release but that’s one I’ve got my eye on.

Ben: I’m not really sure to be honest. I was going to say I’m really keen to get Arthur Beatrice, their new album, that sounds awesome and then maybe yeah Future Islands, their new one.

You’ve been spending some time in the studio recently working on your début album. What’s it sounding like and can we be expecting to hear a similar sound to your first releases or is it taking a slightly different path?

Liam: There’s quite a lot of singles on it, we wanted to make an album that people get straight away, we wanted it to be quite instant and gratifying as soon as you listen to it. So there’s a lot of big sounding pop songs on there but there’s a few different things going on, it’s not just the tropically thing. We’ve got some slower songs, we’ve done some interesting things with rhythm, we’ve broken up a lot of beats.

Ben: There’s a lot of layering, so we’ve done a drum beat then broken that up and put percussive stuff over the top. There’s a lot of different odd percussion in there. I played a stool, I played a music stand at different angles.

Liam: Ben’s super keen on percussion, he’s obsessed with this thing called Rudiments, which is like weird variations on South American and Latin beats and we tried to bring that into the music. Some of the album tracks are really cool and they’ve got some really different things going on, we’ve also got some more dance influence stuff as well. But we just wanted to make an album that people could really enjoy.

Ben: Its fun and it will appeal to a lot of different people.

Liam: We think the music’s changed a bit, you can do more things on an album, even 5 or 6 years ago you would ‘ve had to have you’re sound, you’d have to execute it and you couldn’t really get out of that box. By the way modern music is going, I think because it’s such a single led market, as long as you’ve got a good song, people will accept it no matter what genre it is. So we’ve tried to just write some really good songs and play about a bit more with what they sound like and what genres they are. It’s not just every song sounds tropical, but obviously that’s there because that’s the core of us, but we’ve tried to expand on that. But at the heart of it, the songs are still unmistakably Coasts.

I was just going to mention that Gotye on his Making Mirrors album actually sampled a wine glass.

Liam: Really? We actually sampled a wine glass, no it was actually a mug.

Ben: The wine glass didn’t get used after all because it didn’t quite have the right ting, so in the end we went for a large mug, which had a better vibration to it.

I’m always fascinated by song lyrics and phrases, your band are particularly good at writing the perfect lyric.

Liam: Aww, thank you.

So I wanted to ask, what’s your favourite lyric that you’ve written?

Liam: Chris who isn’t here, obviously writes the lyrics. What’s your favourite lyric that Chris has come up with? [to Ben]

Ben: I like “boiling, bubbling, it’s under your skin” just the onomatopoeia of it. It’s a new lyric that, so you’ve got a little taste of a new lyric. He says something like I can’t remember what the exact lyric is but it’s like “it’s boiling, it’s bubbling, it’s under your skin” it just rolls with the rhythm so well.

Liam: I like the break down in Oceans, “this is our garden girl, we live in a factory world” that’s cool. But obviously Chris doesn’t always let us know what the lyrics are actually about, so we’re kept guessing as much as anyone else is. He doesn’t explain who and what they’re about always, he tries to keep it close to his chest, they’re quite personal I think.

Yeah, I always love, “I’m done with reading fiction, you could philosophize my mind”.

Ben: Yeah that is a classic.

We’re big supporters of new music here at Bitter Sweet Symphonies. Having said that, are there any new artists that have caught your attention recently that you’d like to share with us?

Liam: Have you heard of Pixel Fix?

I have, yeah.

Liam: Their our friends, they’re a really good band and they’re really starting to get somewhere. I think they are recording some new stuff at the moment, I think it’s gonna be pretty exciting, so watch out for that.

Ben: I think the stuff that I’m listening to is in a very different genre group, I’m really into house and DJ stuff at the moment, so I really like Duke Dumont, he’s really cool.

Liam: There’s another band called As Elephants Are that I like. They’re cool, they supported us in London.

Yeah I like them a lot too.

Where do you hope 2014 will take you?

Liam: Well we’re a pretty ambitious band.

Ben: Big stages, big festival stages.

Liam: We’ve always been pretty open about what we think our music is, we want to appeal to a lot of people and that’s what we try and do, we’ve done that from the start, so our ambitions are pretty massive and we wanna be as big as we possibly can be. So hopefully 2014’s gonna be a lot better than 2013.

Ben: At the moment at the rate, the increase in our audience it’s really, really exciting.

Liam: So hopefully that can continue.


A special thanks to Coasts for this interview and for more info on the band, check out the following links below.

Website . Facebook . Twitter

Charlotte Holroyd
Editor, Creator and Founder of Bitter Sweet Symphonies. A lover of music and cinema, who's constantly attending gigs and in search of a great experience.

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