Coasts have proven that with a lot of hard graft, persistence and dedication, it is possible to achieve your dreams. The band formed in 2011, and since then they’ve been touring relentlessly up and down the country, building an army of fans, and progressing their skills for crafting epic indie pop songs that soar into the night.
The band will reach a milestone this week, when they release their long-awaited debut album. So we spoke to the powers that be and scheduled ourselves a chat with the quintet’s frontman, Chris Caines. We dig deeper into the album’s framework to explore the inspirations behind the songs, Caines’ process of writing lyrics and more.
Charlotte, Bitter Sweet Symphonies: You are about to release your debut album this week, congrats on that firstly.
Chris Caines: “Thanks very much.”
From the process of making the record all the way up to its release, what has stood out to you as the most challenging and the most rewarding thing?
“I think with every first album, you get a long time to write it and that’s great because you can hand pick the best 10-12 songs that you’ve written over the past 4 years, and I think that’s a really nice luxury that you’re afforded with on your first album. The downside of that is that you’re so eager to get it out that you kinda get a bit frustrated when things get…like our album was pushed back a couple months, it was a mainly positive thing. It was because things were starting to go well at radio and we were starting to get plays, it was kind of an executive decision to put that back so it was a really positive thing. But for us as a band, we were like we just want to get the music out there and play it, so I guess that was the most frustrating and challenging aspect of the whole process.”
It has been a long journey to get this album out into the world, but I’d imagine you’ve learnt a lot along the way and that will have made the album even more special. Now that the album is coming out at the end of the week, how are you feeling?
“Yeah I’m really excited to be honest. We’re throwing a bit of a party on Friday night to celebrate the album release. We put a mailer out for our fans that they can win tickets for, so that’s gonna be a nice little release on Friday when it’s finally out. It’ll just be nice to start touring the album and playing the songs in a live context, to the fans that we’ve built up and hopefully to the new fans we garner over the next months.”
I know when I first hear a song, I usually gravitate towards the lyrics. Coasts songs are good for those memorable one liners. For you, when you’re writing a song do you think about how a lyric with connect with someone?
“Strictly when I first start writing lyrics, it’s really personal and really introspective. I think it is important for us, because we’re a band that essentially writes pop music, I think it’s important that our lyrics do connect and I try and be as honest as I can in what I write. Like honest, firstly – mainly for myself so I can use that as a bit of a cathartic process but also for fans to be able to connect with it, it needs to be a universal language. I quite enjoy writing poetic and dream-like sort of lyrics but I think it’s quite important also to have those universal themes running through the music.”
Of all the songs on the album, which lyric resonates with you the most at this time?
“The last song on the album is called Tonight, and that pretty much sums up what the album’s about. In that it’s about optimism, facing up to your fears and just letting go of all your inhibitions essentially. So I guess at this point in time, Tonight is probably the most fitting with all we’re all feeling.”
Are all your songs wrote from personal experience?
“Yeah they always start from a personal experience because I’m always writing anyway, regardless of whether we’re in the studio or practising together. I’m always just writing words down in a book, so they always start from a personal space. Sometimes that morphs and becomes me talking about a wider issue or whatever but yeah, it normally starts from a really personal space.”
Particularly, I was drawn to the new lyrics in ‘Stay’, it has given the song a new lease of life. How has that song developed in your minds since the original?
“The original was one of the first songs we ever wrote. We had a tendency, I think, in the early stages of the band to come up with great moments but never really be able to finish a song off, I think we’ve learnt over time to be able to do that – to finish a song. It was really important for us to go back to that song because that was one of the songs that was kind of a catalyst – the change. We’d been in bands before that kind of weren’t working out because we were writing music that we thought was gonna get noticed and all that sorta thing, and Stay was one of those songs that we wrote where we decided to scrap everything and start again. To just start writing music that made us feel good again so it was nice to revisit that song and take out those elements of that that still resonated with us. And then for me to write new verses along to that, it was really nice. The song, lyrically, takes me back to when I was 16, driving around Bristol with my friends, it’s got a nice nostalgic feel to it.”
Looking at the album’s tracklisting, it’s made up of older tracks that have been previous singles and on previous EP’s, and there are also a few newer songs. When it came to choosing what would feature on the album, what were the criteria?
“We wanted essentially our best 16 songs to be on the album, and our best 10 to be on the full album because we’ve gained a relatively big fanbase up until now, but there’s so many more people that don’t know our music and it’s important for our first album to be a snapshot of us over the past 4 years and just to detail exactly what we’re about, and what are ambitions are. Our fanbase is always going to be really loyal to us because we have a really strong connection with them, but I think [with] new people coming on board it’s really important for them to hear the best parts of our music.”
Listening to the album, it definitely feels expansive and epic. You must have big plans for the tour?
“Yeah we do. The music we listen to anyway is pretty diverse, but we love pop music. I think essentially with the way that music is digested now, with streaming and everything, it’s mainly about the song. It doesn’t really matter what genre…you know there used to be like Goth kids, hip hop heads, but nowadays you can like Kendrick Lemar, you can like Massive Attack and you can like Taylor Swift or whatever. And it doesn’t matter, it’s mainly about being good songs and how they connect with you. [pauses] I can’t remember what the question was, I sort of went off a bit…”
You must have big plans for the tour?
“Oh right, yeah. We do. I mean our sound is really expansive, it’s really ambitious and we’re an ambitious band. We have plans to eventually play huge venues, so it’s never [like] we’re not going to try, just because we’re a young band. We wanna write music that we love, and the music that we love just happens to sound big and expansive. But yeah, the tour’s gonna be really fun, we’re really looking forward to playing some of the songs that we haven’t played live before, for people that haven’t heard them.”
I know going from the transition of seeing you play Sound Control in 2014 to playing Gorilla last year, there’s been a big change in the live set for sure. Just the staging and everything, it’s much bigger.
“Yeah I think it’s important to evolve naturally. I don’t think we’ve like jumped miles ahead. Like we’ve only had a live light show, a proper light show, for the past couple of London shows. The rest of our tours are pretty stripped back, it’s just a sound guy and the five of us, and obviously Liam’s brother comes on stage and plays bass guitar for us. But yeah we haven’t jumped any steps on the ladder at all, so to speak. We’re taking it steady, you know.”
How do you go about choosing the songs that will make the set list now? After all, you’ve built up quite a large collection of songs.
“Basically we want to people to have fun and to dance at our shows, and so we try and keep the set as vibey as possible, and the transition between songs fairly quick. Like we’re a summery poppy band and we just think it’s good to have fun, so we try and fill our set and sculpt it in a way that’ll maximise that.”
Your fans are very dedicated and passionate. They’ve helped build this band up to where it is now. What does their continued support mean to you?
“It’s massive. It’s one of the main reasons why we do it. Obviously we love playing live and writing new music but essentially it’s those people that make it special. Like when you’re playing a live show and you look out into the audience, and they’re loving it and screaming the words back to you, and then you get the engagement online. Obviously it’s instant nowadays, so it’s amazing to see how our music is connecting with people. They’re really important for us in our continued growth because they’re the people that spread the word, you know.”
If you could choose any band or artist to cover one of your songs in the live lounge. Who would you pick and what song would they sing?
“I’d like to see a Hip Hop artist, maybe like Joey Bada$$. I don’t know how he would cover one of our songs but if he covered ‘Your Soul’ it would be quite interesting.”
Coasts have achieved a lot so far, but is there something you’re aiming for with the band that you haven’t yet had the opportunity to do?
“We wanna play to bigger and bigger crowds every time but we want the growth of our band to be fairly gradual because we don’t want to be a ‘flash in the pan’ band and we wanna do this for a long, long time. So we’re always talking about a gradual growth, and obviously in the future we’d absolutely love to be playing headline slots at festivals, that is our aim. And to be playing huge arena or stadium shows. We do really have big ambitions, whether that takes this album, two albums or three albums or whatever, we’re really gonna work hard to try and get there.”
Coasts debut self-titled album is released on 22nd January. Pre-order the album here in all its various formats.