This year one of the biggest selling records on the Pennyblackmusic.com website has been the self-titled debut record from Coastal, which is an eight track ride through slocore, shoegaze and indiepop. Tuneful and melodic. Coastal are not an easy band to categorise, but sound original and have built up a large and devoted fanbase. Anyone who enjoys the music of Low, Joy Division or any of the quieter shoegaze bands, and even people like Sigur Ros will, however, surely appreciate Coastal’s music.

‘Coastal,’ the album, was released in March of this year on the popular Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Words on Music label. A 7” single of the album track ‘Northern’ was released on Becalmed Records, a British label. The single found its way to John Peel, who brought Coastal to people’s attention by playing the song ‘Northern’ twice on his long-running and hugely influential radio show.

Coastal don’t tour, unfortunately, but play shows in and around their home town of Provo, Utah and promote themselves on the internet at MP3.com and with their own website. Their full line-up is:

Jason Gough – Guitar, Vocals, Drums
Josh Calloway – Bass
Luisa Lloyd Gough – Vocals, Keyboards
Jim Harker – Drums, Guitar

I spoke to Jason in Utah by phone from Kent, England to ask about the development of a band that many visitors to Pennyblackmusic.com are, no doubt, hoping to hear a lot more from in the near future.

PB: Firstly, how was the band formed and when?

JG: Well we formed just over two years ago, at first with just Luisa, Josh, and myself. Jim joined the band later on. Josh used to come to shows of my old band Loomer four or five years ago here in Provo. I was still a student at the time. We kind of got to talking and it turned out that he played bass, but we never did anything while my old band was still performing. We had many influences in common, however. We kept in touch after my old band broke up. I took a break from music for a couple of years and got married. Then I started itching to play again but wanted to do something different. I wanted to play some more quiet stuff. My old band was straight up shoegaze and was very loud, so they weren’t interested in playing quiet restrained music at all. Plus we never really recorded much. So as I considered a new band I immediately thought of Josh. He had the same kind of vision. Josh was more into Low and Codeine then I was, but I can appreciate those bands. We had a friend, Chris, who sat in on drums with us while we were getting off the ground. My wife Luisa was an original member too. Her and I had wanted to do something together musically. So the three of us messed around with songs, but didn’t really record anything. Luisa had to focus on her last year of studies while the band was taking shape, so another girl, Sarah, helped out on initial keyboard parts and backing vocals, but she left after we recorded our demo e.p. Sarah actually appears on many of the songs on the album since the demo essentially became the album. Luisa took over again as a permanent member, which is what we always wanted to happen anyway. Our fill-in drummer Chris moved to California to form the band Tarmac, so Jim, who had seen us play before, offered to play drums. Jim does most of the drum parts on the album.

PB: Do you get annoyed when you’re labelled slocore, etc?

JG: Well, not really. It is somewhat unfortunate because people then have a preconceived idea of what you’re going to sound like before they hear you, but it’s necessary when you’re a young band like we are. We like to say we’re “slo-gaze.” I don’t know if we coined the phrase or not. I don’t think, with slocore or shoegaze, we do one without the other really.

PB: What did you intend the band to sound like when you first formed?

JG: Low was a main reference point. We do get that comparison a lot, especially because we played with them and have known them quite a while. But overall I’m not exactly sure. A bigger influence for me was a band called Velour100. I wanted to go more in that direction where it was slocore and mellow, but also had moments of atmospheric shoegaze. Along with Low, Josh was thinking more along the lines of Mojave 3 and early Moose. But what came out was, well, this is our sound. As our songs took shape we were pretty happy with the end result.

PB: So who are your main influences now?

JG: Well, actually, I would say the American Analog Set (with whom we played our last show), Tarentel, Red House Painters and Ida while Josh is more into Low. I like Low, but I find that I can’t make it through a lot of their stuff. Same with a lot of slocore. I’m comfortable with a slocore classification, but I’m not sure how much of it I really like.

PB: How did you get in contact with the two labels you’ve released records on?

JG: Well, it actually happened in the same week! Words on Music first. I’d heard of them actually on the MP3.com circuit. The two Ostermeier brothers were in a band called ‘Shift’ in ’93, but changed their name to ‘Should’ because of another Shift on Sony. I heard them first in ’94 and they blew me away! I really dug it. They had a Joy Division/My Bloody Valentine feel to them that you didn’t hear much back then. Nowadays you can find that fairly easily, but back then I was really excited to hear it.

Last year in May we released our five-track e.p. when we were called Infrared (we changed our name when we got signed because of another Infrared). We weren’t actively looking for a label, but put a few songs up on MP3.com thinking that if someone took interest that would be great. We couldn’t finance a proper CD, only a CDR. As students and newly married couples we had a very low budget. We actually had a few labels offer to release our stuff, but we decided to wait and see if something better would present itself. Then we got an e-mail from Words on Music asking for a copy of the Infrared e.p. and when I realised who I was talking too I was amazed. I sent them a copy of the e.p. in return for one of theirs because I couldn’t find it anywhere. A week later they sent an e-mail saying they were looking to expand the label and felt that we were the right band. They wanted to release our e.p. plus three songs and that became the Coastal album. We had only sold a couple of hundred copies of the e.p. through our website coastalrock.com. We didn’t have any distribution or a proper CD, so it worked out really well because now lots of people can hear it.

We got an e-mail that same week from Jorge Cortes, a Spaniard from Crewe, England saying that he too wanted to release our stuff on his label Becalmed Records. He didn’t mind that we couldn’t offer any new songs for a single because he wanted to do ‘Northern’ and ‘Cinder.’ We were excited to have something out on vinyl, so we decided to do it once we got the ok from Words on Music. Jorge seemed sincere enough and did a good job setting up contacts in Spain and England. He’d ran a fanzine in Spain and that helped. Also he uses Shellshock distribution, who got the record out to Peel. You know it was weird. I had a vinyl record out and didn’t even have a record player! I used to be big into vinyl, but that was in the ‘80s.

I think we’ve probably sold the most music through Pennyblackmusic, in Britain anyway. Clairecords in the States has been good too. It’s hard to tell in the U.S. We’ve been getting a fair amount of college radio play, but it’s funny because in Britain we’ve been played on the Peel Show, and yet we can’t get played in our hometown on the high school station because they’re all into the aggressive Limp Bizkit stuff! I guess we’re too mellow. We don’t mind though because I don’t think we’d sound too good mixed in with that kind of thing anyway! Provo is a huge college town, but there’s no college radio.

PB: How important has the Internet, and MP3.com especially, been to you?

JG: It’s been everything! Not that we’ve arrived anywhere, but we wouldn’t be where we are today without it. Provo, Utah is not exactly a Mecca of music and most of the music is college party rock a la Dave Matthews band. Some say that being from Provo is actually a death mark in that the industry doesn’t take you seriously. But through the Internet we’ve been able to network with other bands and meet our labels. If it weren’t for that we’d just be a local band. I don’t think that we’d even have anything out, so the Internet has been crucial.

PB: Where do you see Coastal’s involvement in Internet music going?

JG: More so than using Internet music for promotion we’re trying to network with other bands. For instance, we met this great band Lorna from Nottingham. They also have something out on Becalmed Records. I actually discovered them two years ago on MP3.com. We’re going to be working on a Coastal vs. Lorna e.p. where we remix a couple of each other’s songs and add to them for release next year. I’m really excited about it because in my opinion they seem to be one of the best bands I’ve heard from the UK in a long time. I’m more excited about stuff like that than promoting ourselves. We don’t really want to be a huge band anyway. We can’t really tour because we all have families. We can only go down as far as California and our label doesn’t really expect us to tour anyway. We’ll carry on using the Internet to release new music though.

PB: You’ve got a new e.p. coming out in November called ‘Winter'.

JG: It’s part of a series of seasonal themed records on a new label from San Francisco called ‘Dreams by Degrees.’ I’m excited about it because we are friends with the other bands in the series and they are all incredible. It’s nice to be the first release for Becalmed Records and now the first for Dreams by Degrees. It will also be a new format for us as well, 10”. The guy in charge, Jonathan, has wanted to do this for a long time and felt we were the right band to start with so we should do well.

PB: Will the music be a departure from the album?

JG: For us it is. Luisa sings on one track on her own with just a piano. Also, there is less percussion and in general the whole record is maybe a bit sparser. This was our first time in a proper studio, so the temptation to add too much to each song was great, but we resisted. We want to stay true to our initial vision of keeping it simple. A new song “Ashes,” though, is very atmospheric. It’s one of our favourites so far. But the average person will probably say the record sounds the same as our old stuff, even though, in our opinion, it’s different. We’re quite happy with staying pretty much the same though. We’re not a variety band.

















Related Links:


http://www.coastalrock.com/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Coastal-Band/138639642863701


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