"It's quite nice because the actual coin-op is almost in every high street so you can see it a lot." says Nick Hills, the singer and keyboardist, about his new, but already popular band Coin-op. Coin-op, the band, you don't, however get to see 'almost in every' venue, as they have been largely concentrating on playing London at the moment. All its members, Nick, Matt Leuw (guitar/vocals), Craig Robbins (bass/vocals) and Matt Cooper (drums), however, come from and live in Brighton.

Coin-op first formed only 18 months ago, but have made the most of the time since then. Shortly after their formation they came across the London based independent label Fierce Panda. Fierce Panda has released all their music to date. There were 2 singles, 'Democracies' and 'Southpaw' and a mini album 'Friendly Fire, all of which were released last year. The group's third single, 'The Curve',will come out on the 28th April.

Their spontaneous keyboard-based music and strong-minded vocals have earned them respect on the music scene already. Coin-op recently performed at the SXSW festival in America in Austin in February. The band have also just finished touring the UK with the Inspiral Carpets.

Pennyblackmusic talked to the band, just a few days after they had finished the Inspiral Carpets tour, at 93 Feet East in London where they were playing a gig. The dressing room in the backstage of the venue was the perfect place for them to rewind a part of their very young, but already interesting history.

PB: When and how did you all meet?

NH: It was about 18 months ago when we came with this line-up. We were all kind of connected through music or working together so it's pretty boring. (laughs)

I kind of knew Matt (Cooper) because I worked with him and I knew Craig through his sister. We all live in Brighton.

PB: Why did you decide to call the band Coin-op?

NH: It's because we use quite a lot of keyboards. They all sound like old computer games. It's quite nice because the actual coin-op is in every High Street so you can see it a lot.

PB: If I'm right, all your releases have come out on Fierce Panda records. How did you get in touch with the label? Did you send them a demo?

NH: Yeah, we did actually. We were playing our first gig in London which was at the Dublin Castle. So, we thought we better sound some demos out to people. We sent out about 40 CDs.Simon Williams from Fierce Panda was there on the night, liked us and said he would like to put our stuff out. It kind of happened quite really quickly. That was our 4th gig and we had been together for probably about 3 months at the time!

PB: How do you work on writing music and lyrics?

MC: Nick is the main song writer. He brings the ideas into the studio to us and then we sort of mess them up there really. Matt (Leuw) writes some songs as well, but we each put our bit in.

ML: It works really well because everyone has got different influences as well. Everyone kind of does things a bit differently so it makes the sound more interesting.

PB: Have you got any more music ready you want to record?

NH: We have stuff that we recorded which we haven't released yet.

NC: Yeah, we recorded a few tracks with Rob Ferrier in Liverpool at Christmas. We really wanted to work with him because he has done some cool stuff with bands like the Clientele. So we wouldn't mind putting out that before it starts getting cold again.

Once it's recorded you can't just put it out there. There are still so many things to do with it and people have to get involved to release that. Hopefully we get it out before the end of the Summer.

PB: You toured with the Inspiral Carpets in March and April and played 8 gigs with them. How did that come about and what it was like?

NH: They had heard the mini album 'Friendly Fire' and they really wanted us to support them. They are great people. They have influenced us a lot, so it was pretty cool playing with someone whose records you know so well and who are such a great band. Every single night we were standing on the side, watching them and saying "Yeah, this is great!"

MC: Also we have seen 8 Inspiral Carpets gigs and didn't have to even pay for it. How cool is that? (Laughs)

PB: One of the gigs was at the Brixton Academy in London. How did it feel to play such a big venue with capacity of 4,500 people?

NH: It was really weird.

MC: It was like a 40 minutes rollercoaster.

NH: At any stage, as long as the lights are good, you can't really see that much in front of you. What we found at Brixton, because the lights are so far back from the stage , you could actually see. I made the mistake of walking around the venue before we played and I was like "Fucking Hell! This is so big."

PB: How did it feel to play on such a big stage?

NH: We actually set up our stuff close to each other so... (laughs) there was this big space around us. It was really good. Every night of that tour was great... tonight we are back to playing small venues again though (laughs)

PB: When you are on a stage and sing do you sometimes change lyrics?

NC: Sometimes... I add bits. (laughs)

PB: And do you ever get annoyed with the audience?

NC: Yeah, but we try not to show it. We aren't very good at fighting, are we?

(All laugh)

PB: Have you got more gigs planned in the near future?

MC: We are planning to go out and tour at the end of May with another band who are on Temptation Records (Offshoot label of Fierce Panda-Ed), the Rain Band, but that is not confirmed yet.

PB: You also played the US SXSW festival in Austin in March this year, didn't you?

MC: Yeah, before we played with the Inspiral Carpets we went to play the SXSW festival in Austin in Texas. It was also the first time we played abroad.

ML: The whole festival was so amazing. There were so many bands to see but you couldn't see a lot of them because it was very difficult to get from one place to another. It was such a great experience.

PB: How did you get to play it?

MC: It was just on the back of the album again. It was on the back of the songs. We had always wanted to play it. We heard some great things about it. And we sent the album out there and they just asked us to play.

PB: Why did you decide to name the album 'Friendly Fire'?

NC: It goes back to our music really. It sounds quite arcady and stuff so it just kind of comes from that. We are friendly but...

The rest of the band: ...as fire

(All laugh)

NC: Yeah something like that.

PB: You all live in Brighton but play mostly in London. Is it easy for you to get booked in London?

NH: We kind of started playing London more then Brighton as it works better for us in long run. There is quite a good music scene in Brighton, though.

Only our van keeps breaking down. When we were touring with the Inspiral Carpets it broke down... how many times?

MC: 4 times! (laughs)

NH: So we spend most of the tour besides the motorway, didn't we. I know how to mend fucking dead vans though now. (laughs)

PB: Is it true that one of your songs was picked up by MTV?

MC: Yeah, that's right. It was the first single, 'Democracies'. They chose it for the Fridge on MTV and used that as a title track. That was in November last year.

PB: Is there anything else you would like to add?

MC: We have got a video. It's on our web site.

PB: Oh, yeah, I've seen that. Where was it done ?

NH: We kind of said if anyone asks that we would say it was done on a set, but it was actually done round my old flat which was really messy. It's like a dominoes rely. There are lots of dominoes falling round around the flat and then there is a fly chasing it. And then... What do they do?

MC: They squash him.

NH: They squash him? You don't actually see him getting squashed under those dominoes, do you...

ML: It might get an 18 rating. (Laughs)

NC: I didn't realize he dies!

ML: There is quite a sad spin on it really.

NH: It was our friends that did it. They started a new company and the video is their first thing really.

MC: It has got some good reviews for them though...

NH: Yeah, it has made our music sound quite good! We will have to use them again. (Laughs)

PB: Thank you for your time and talking.

Coin-op: Thank you for your time.












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