How did Coastal form, and who is actually in the band?
I used to be in a band called Loomer. We were pretty much straight shoegaze a la Ride, Verve, Slowdive. We played out quite a bit around Utah through 1995 – 98. Josh (our bass player) used to come to shows and we got to be pretty good friends. I knew he played bass, so when Loomer called it quits and after I took a break from music after getting married to Luisa, we started to make music together in May of 1999. So originally it was Josh, Luisa, and me just messing around at my house. It was just nice to play simple slow melodies and to be able to sing with my wife. Loomer was pretty loud at times and those guys were not interested in making slow sappy love songs.
At the time we called ourselves Infrared and really had no intention of playing outside of the bedroom. It was just for fun. However, once we moved to a bigger practice area and had a friend (Chris Pearson) join us on drums, we started to records songs and toyed with the idea of doing an e.p. Luisa had to quit the band to finish her last year of school, so Sarah Hollyoak filled in and actually appeared on all the Infrared e.p. songs, which ended up making up more than half of our debut album.
By this time we had done a few shows and were writing more songs. A friend offered to help us record. So we got to work on the 5-song e.p. Around this time, Chris moved to California to form the band Tarmac so Jim Harker, who had seen us play a few times, offered to play drums.
Once we finished the e.p. we were able to post a few songs to mp3.com. The response was beyond anything we’d expected. Our songs got in the top ten of the genre (shoegaze-even though I thought we were more slocore, but there is no slocore genre on that site), with Celesta going #1. We were actually making money off people downloading our songs. It was pretty exciting for us. We helped pay for the e.p. and our first tour off the money we made, which was nice since we had pretty much made the goal of not spending any money out of pocket on the band.
It was through mp3.com that we were approached by Words on Music out of Minneapolis to release the Infrared e.p., plus three more songs to make it a full-length. When we signed to them we changed our name to Coastal because of another Infrared who had been playing under than name longer than we had.
We had done a show with The Autumns and Lift to Experience in Salt Lake and The Autumns invited us to come down to California to play a show with them at The Troubadour. It had been a dream of mine to play there, so we said yeah and made plans to do a short tour. By this time Sarah had also moved to California, so Luisa was back in the band, which was kind of the original plan anyway.
So, to answer your question, Luisa Gough, Josh Callaway, Jim Harker, and myself make up Coastal currently.
What (or who) would be the biggest musical influences on Coastal?
When we started I had Velour 100 in mind as a main influence. Mellow acoustic guitar stuff with spurts of noise pop and samples and such. Josh was more into Low than I was and his art was taking him to more minimalistic areas, so those factors came through in his playing and worked in tandem with my desire to make simplistic music anyway. I’d say Slowdive, Red House Painters, and the Field Mice were big influences on me as well.
What are some of the lyrical themes that are prevalent in Coastal, and what inspires you to write about them?
Well my lyrics are very abstract. Often I’ll use the first lyrics I sing for a song as the final lyrics. I don’t often sit down and write out lyrics. I like to go with my initial response to a melody and not change things much from that. I guess sadness and isolation are recurring themes, but to be honest sometimes I don’t really even know what I’m singing about, which is kind of cool. I can go back to songs and draw new meaning from the lyrics sometimes. Kind of a self-psychoanalysis to figure out what I was feeling at the time. I’ll use fragments of experiences or intense moments from my life to make up parts of a song. Sometimes the songs are entirely about one thing or experience. Other times they are a bit more fragmented and abstract. Melody has always been more important to me than lyrics, but that’s not to say my words are nonsense. Hope that answers your question.
Your 10″ lp (“winter”) on dreams by degrees is stunning. How did you hook up with that label?
First, thank you. I’m glad you like it. It’s always hard to follow your first record. I was concerned people wouldn’t like it since the debut album seemed to do so well. That e.p. was a bit of a departure for us. We did some new stuff on it like using piano instead of the organ drone and we incorporated more acoustic guitar, which, contrary to our first few weeks of songwriting, hadn’t really shown up on our first album.
As far as hooking up with the label, Jon Lee heard our music from The Stratford 4. We had played with them on our first tour and we swapped CDs. He is good friends with Sheetal the bass player. I guess he liked it because he got in touch with us and expressed interest in Coastal being his first release for his new label. Dreams by Degrees is shaping up to be a great outfit, so we are flattered to be the first release.
Are there any specific goals that you are aiming towards in Coastal? What is it that you hope to accomplish with this band?
Well since we didn’t start the band out with any aspirations but to play the music we wanted to hear, we didn’t really think too much about the future. As I said before, we never even thought we’d play a real gig much less tour or get signed to a label. Maybe we set our sights low because we are realists, but for me we have already accomplished all that we want to. All I ever wanted was to release a proper CD, whether people liked it or not was irrelevant. I spent 3 years in my last band and don’t have much to show for it. We never really recorded. Many songs are lost. I didn’t want that to happen with Coastal.
Who are some of the bands/singers that you are currently enjoying?
L’altra, Doves, Lorna, Tarentel.
Give us your two cents on the current state of slo-core music.
Well, it’s not getting any faster. I don’t know really. I guess there are more slocore bands now than there have ever been, but it’s still a pretty small scene. I don’t see this genre ever breaking into the mainstream, so I think it will continue to be small, which is nice. I guess being in a slocore band is kind of the antithesis of being a rockstar. At least for us it is. We go to our day jobs in the corporate world, come home, spend time with the wife and kids, and maybe if we have some spare time we’ll pick up the guitar between diaper changings.
I’ve seen your band compared to Low in different reviews. How do you feel about that comparison?
We aren’t offended by it. There are obvious similarities. We’ve played with Low and know them fairly well. It really wasn’t our intention to sound like them and I still don’t think we do, however, they are a logical point of reference for people and that’s fine.
Have you ever thought of going solo? (not that there’s anything wrong with Coastal!)
Actually I have. Some of the stuff I bring to the table isn’t right for Coastal and the other members don’t often think it fits, so I’ve thought of doing some of my own recordings, but for right now I’m still very focused on the band. I know I’ll always write songs so there will be plenty of time to do my own thing later. Hopefully along the way I’ll make contacts with the right people who might be interested in releasing what I eventually do.
How do you see Coastal developing in the future?
Well I think our new stuff is different from our first album, which is good. It says that we have matured as a band and developed our sound, but I doubt we’ll ever stray from the sad, slow tones. We are simply incapable of writing a pop song. We have unfortunately been reduced to a studio band these days. We haven’t played out in over a year. We’ve just been recording. I miss playing out sometimes and short tours can be fun road trips, but around here playing shows gets old really fast. The kids want their agro rock and we just don’t rock, so shows can be frustrating at times. I remind myself about that and suddenly I don’t miss playing out so much. It’s nice to know that if we ever wanted to tour we could play a lot of different places though. We got an offer to tour Europe once and that was tempting, but it would be impossible these days with a new baby and such. Home-based recording is pretty fulfilling for the moment. We might play a gig or two in the fall.
Give us your prediction of the Stanley Cup champs of 2003.
I predict that I won’t watch it even though I am Canadian.
Any other comments?
I guess I’d just like to say that Canadian-American relations aren’t as bad as everyone thinks and Coastal is proof that once we put that whole battle of 1812 thing behind us we are all pretty much the same and can live in peace and harmony.