BBG Presents: Coasts

4 September 2015

In a small dark space their creativity unfolds. Drumbeats fall into place under the shadows of sheets, tunes articulated as they move from person to person. The roof is high, and this is the place where sounds are made. Sounds about modern love fading away, echoes of distant sounds and wanting to be a better man.

Moody and anthemic, Coasts have something to say with their music. We meet them in a small room at the top of an old house (our shoot location), where the boys are laughing but listening intently to every word our photographer Sophie Mayanne says as she explains our plan for the day. The boys are focused, picking out each item of their clothing with an eye that comes from the focus deep rooted within each of them.

There’s five of them, each of them look slightly similar as if spending so much time in a band has meant that the boys slowly pick up each other’s mannerisms. Styled by Dasha Kova, with grooming by Erin Kristensen, the boys channel their anthemic and put together sound through their songs, with tailored coats and shiny new boots. The boys mean business, and as they talk to us about their upcoming album and who has control of their ipod when they’re on tour, you can tell they know exactly what they want to say, their words both sincere and thoughtful.

You've been on tour recently haven't you?
Chris: We literally got back yesterday. We were in America doing some festivals, and a few of our own shows.

When did you all meet?
Chris: We met when we were studying in Bath. It was something we decided to do instead of going to our lessons. We were friends before we started the band.
David: None of us could really play instruments properly, but that was part of the fun of it. We have only ever been in a band with each other and I feel we have grown as a band ever since.

Above: James wears Hoodie by TUESDAY NIGHT BAND PRACTICE (TNBP), Jeans by THE KOOPLES, Shoes by RAG&BONE. Liam wears Top by RAG&BONE, Jeans by NUDIE JEANS, Shoes by RELIGION, Necklace by ICON BRAND. Chris wears Coat by AGI&SAM, Jeans by THE KOOPLES, Shoes by SWEAR. Ben wears Top by ADYN, Jeans by NUDIE JEANS, Shoes by DR MARTENS, Necklace and Rings by ICON BRAND. David wears Top by RAG&BONE, Parka by CHRISTOPHER RAEBURN, Jeans by RELIGION, Shoes by UNDERGROUND, Necklace and Bracelet by ICON BRAND.

None of you studied music?
Everyone: No
Chris: Dave did psychology.
Liam: We used to sneak into the practice rooms they had at Bath Spa.
David: They had rehearsal rooms there that had all the gear set up and there was just a code on the room to get in. We had mates on the music course who could get us the code. They had all the kit so we would just go and fuck around.
Liam: Then get kicked out.
Ben: There was never anyone in there anyway because the music students weren't studying music, they were busy off doing something they shouldn't be doing as well haha.

Are you all quite close?
Everyone: Yeah.
Chris: We have known each other for a long time now and we were friends before the band.

Travelling together must have helped that too.
James: It was worse when we lived together. We fell out a lot then, ususally you can all go your seperate ways after a tour. When we were rehearsing and living together, that was a lot tougher. I wouldn't advise any bands to live together.

What did you fight about?
James: Just domestic things.
Liam: Really meaningless things.
Chris: Ben used to steal all the food in the house. All the time. The amount of times you would hear him rummaging through someone else's cupboards.
James: He used to leave toast and crumbs everywhere.
Ben: So I mainly created the problems, haha.
Liam: When you are with people for 24 hours a day for five days a week that is a bit much. It’s like family really isn't it.
Chris: These boys are like my family.

What would you be doing if you were'nt in a band?
Liam: Bin man I reckon, haha.
Chris: I reckon I would like to be a food critic, because I absolutely love food.
Liam: Actually me and Dave were pretty keen on being golf caddies, because you get ten percent of the golfers wages. They earn millions and all you have to do it carry their bags.
Dave: You have to give top tips though.
Liam: Yeah but they don't really tip, they just sort of ask what you think and then you just kind of go ‘well go with your gut’ haha.
Ben: I would quite like to be a scuba diving instructor. I am advanced.
Chris: You are advanced, but not in scuba diving haha.
Ben: I have my card right here I can show you. You have to take an extra course to become an instructor.
James: I don't know about me.
Chris: Market seller?
James: Just because I am from Essex they think I would be naturally good on a market stool. I have worked on them before, back in the day. I don't know really. I would want to do something probably quite sporty.
Ben: You could work behind the bar at the cricket club haha.
James: I reckon I would have a good crack at darts.

Do you hang out together a lot outside of being a band?
Chris: Well we all live miles away from each other. Only me and Ben live in London. The rest live in Essex, Brighton and Bristol so we live all over the place. When we are on tour together we see and hang out with each other so much, that when you go home it is naturally nice to spend time with different people. We all have different friendship groups as well so yeah. It is nice to just go your separate ways.
Liam: It is better to just separate yourselves for a bit.
Chris: We can create sneaky Whatsapp groups haha.

Do you have a group Whatsapp with all of you?
Everyone: Yeah.
Ben: It is mostly just pictures of falling asleep in the back of the van.
Liam: Yeah they are great. It’s mostly just people falling asleep and a lot of banter. There was a lot of Game Of Thrones talk recently.
James: We are quite obsessed with the stone men in Game Of Thrones. They are only in it for five minutes but it is a big talking point on the Whatsapp haha.

What is your song writing process like?
Chris: Liam writes a demo and then he sends it over to me and I’ll write a melody and the lyrics and then we will all flesh it out as a whole band. It becomes a collaborative process at that moment.

Above: Ben wears Top by RAG&BONE, Jacket by SOULLAND, Jeans by NUDIE JEANS, Shoes by DR MARTENS. Chris wears T-Shirt by ALL SAINTS, Coat by SANDRO, Jeans by THE KOOPLES, Shoes by SWEAR. David wears Top by TOURNE DE TRANSMISSION, Parka by THE KOOPLES, Jeans by RELIGION, Shoes by UNDERGROUND, necklace by ICON BRAND. James wears Top by RELIGION, Denim Jacket by ASGER JUEL LARSEN, Jeans by THE KOOPLES, necklace by MIANSAI. Liam wears T-Shirt by NUDIE JEANS, Bomber Jacket by IUTER, Jeans by RELIGION.

What inspires your songwriting?
Chris: Various things. Whatever has happened to us really. Our album chronicles the sort of journeys we have been on throughout the last three or four years. It is anything from relationship troubles to great times we are having with the band or bad times we are having. It varies.
Liam: It is mainly about the band really isn't it.
Chris: We have been on such a weird, bumpy journey to get to where we are now it's good to write about.
Liam: There are a lot of highs and lows being in a band isn't there.
Chris: Yeah. A lot of highs mainly.
Liam: There are both quiet genuine feelings so it is just genuine to write. There are a lot of hopes and dreams with being in a band. You can feel like you are really failing, then you have these amazing moments. If we get really successful I don't know what we would write about, haha.

You were recently play listed for Radio 1 right?
Everyone: Yeah.
Chris: Yeah this week it’s on the C list which is really great news. We found out about it a couple of weeks ago so when it actually happened that excitement had already passed and now it is like it’s all cool, no big deal. Yeah It seems like it is no big deal, but it actually is.
Liam: It is a massive deal.
Chris: It is so hard to get there. We are all very appreciative and really lucky.

Do you ever write songs about the band and then someone think it is about them?
Chris: Not really, as it is never explicitly about one person. It is poeticised and hidden.
Liam: We haven't gone with the Ben is stealing the milk song yet.
Ben: It is going to be our next single. I can feel it.

That would make a good song name.
Chris: The milk man.
Ben: I’m going to write the lyrics for that one. Like that Amen and Jojo Song. From the thief's point of view.

We heard that you wrote in a church?
Chris: Yeah when we first started the band that was the cheapest place we could find.
Ben: There was actually two churches. The first church we wrote in was at the end of a street where we lived. I was actually on the board of the art group there and they gave me a key, which I still have today to get into the room.

So you became a member or the church to get the key?
James: He wasn't a member of the church.
Ben: Well I was on the board of act directors.
David: No you were not haha. Ben stop it.
Liam: Basically we just got in this church, because it was the cheapest place we could rehearse and we were broke.
Chris: It just made sense.
Ben: They wanted to expand their arts section and I said I would come on board and help if we can practice in this space.

Did you expand the arts and crafts section of the church?
Ben: There wasn't time really, haha.
James: They didn't even have a rehearsal room we just did it on the stage and we had to have all these blankets over Ben, because of the drums so we would be standing around playing and Ben was in this little tent because the drums were far too loud.
Liam: They had loads of soft gym equipment like kids crash mats and stuff and so we built a fort around the drum kit. It didn't make any difference and we got chucked out about a week later.
Chris: We used to play indoor football in there all the time.
Liam: Then we found another church and that was alright, because it was cheap and noone cared.
James: It was very damp.
Ben: We actually put on a gig there, which was awesome. You sort of walk down into it.
Dave: That was in our early DIY days.
James: Our never again days.

That's quite cool though.
Ben: Yeah it was good fun. We never thought it was cool when it was happening. It was just a cheap alternative, but looking back at it it was quite cool.

When I read that that had happened I thought maybe your songs were really influenced by the church.
Dave: A little bit.
Liam: Certainly at the start.
Chris: Religious iconography and stuff.
Liam: It sort of lost it’s way.
Chris: We had an organ quite early on that we used to use live so that sort of gave us a little influence. It was obviously the atmosphere also. It was pretty echoey. So yeah I guess it did to an extent but it was mainly because it was very very cheap. When you are a band with no money that is pretty ideal.
Liam: You really try to think outside the box.

Was there quite a long time then when you were all having to slog away at it without any reward?
Chris: Years.
Liam: Oh yeah. For years we used to rehearse, because we weren't very good as none of us were musicians. We used to work in restaurants on the weekends and then rehearse four or five days during the week. We did that for ages.
Chris: We spent a solid year and a half not even playing any gigs. Just solidly rehearsing and trying to get good. Trying to be able to have that live performance that people like and want. I think from quite early on we knew what we wanted from it.
David: Everything always felt good. In terms of the band we knew the vibes were really good, it was just trying to have the long term goal and slowly, but surely trying to get to where we needed to be.
Liam: The milk almost put an end to that though.

Nearly. This could be a very different interview if you weren't here because of the milk.
David: Yeah we moved out.
Chris: I don't drink milk anymore because of that reason.
Liam: Deep emotional scars.
David: You have had to become lactose intolerant haha.

You played Coachella recently as well?
David: Yeah, it was pretty mental.
Chris: We had just wanted to do it for so long and then actually playing it was unbelievable.
David: It was quite surreal. They have gold carts and they drive you around this massive site.
Ben: The festival itself is just a bit weird.
Liam: Soulless.
David: It was a little bit like, there were a lot of models there and you know when you go to a UK festival and everyone is just off their heads and there is mud everywhere well this was just so different. Noone was drunk and people weren't even listening to the music at points. Our show was great but in terms of watching some other things it was a little hard.
Liam: It seemed a bit like some people weren't there for the music, they were there to say they had been to Coachella. It is two weeks and the first week especially.
Ben: The VIP bit had like fifteen thousand people in it.
Chris: Some people just go there and stay there the entire day. It made me especially really miss UK festivals.
Liam: Like Glastonbury.
Ben: We did Glastonbury like two months later which was the best.
Chris: It makes you realise that that’s what it should be about.

Do you prefer Glastonbury?
Everyone: Yeah.
Liam: It was still cool to experience, though.
David: It is just a very different vibe to UK festivals.
Liam: We have done other festivals in the US and in Canada. Osheaga festival in Canada the vibe has been different again. The catering at that festival was insane. I think the festival vibe and the people around was a lot more like an English festival. Whereas I think Coachella if you’ve got money or you're an artist it is a great festival. The VIP area is amazing. Behind the caravans there is a massive lake and you can just chill out. The other side of it is that is doesn't have the same atmosphere as your Glastonbury or your Bestival.
Ben: It is just a very different sort of atmosphere.
David: It is so hot as well.

What do you want people to get from your music?
Chris: Just to go wild and have a really good time.
David: I think it is pretty simple. When we are in the crowd watching someone and you just let all your inhibitions go and just go for it. When we love it that is what happens and we just want the same for people who love our music. You just want it to be very inclusive and if people like it you you want them to just be able to let their inhibitions go, because that is the bit that we love the most when we watch someone perform.
Chris: We have all been to so many gigs over the years and then you get a gig that really goes off and you just think, you look around and see everyone enjoying themselves and that is all you want. You think, if I can get people to do this for our shows then we would be very very happy.
James: I think when we perform live it is a very honest show and we go as mad as we want the crowd to go I guess. To join in with that experience.
Chris: It is a two way thing as well. We go a certain way I guess and then if the audience go just as far then we end up having such a more amazing time. You do loads of shows where it is all quite static, it does depend on the age you know but the kids seem to go while every time which is always good.

Do you want to tell us a bit about your album that is coming out soon?
Liam: It has been a long time in the building. We actually completed it as a whole album a couple of times already, but yeah it has some new material on and we are really keen for everyone to hear. It also has some older stuff that has been re worked.
David: It is a combination really. The band has been going for quite a while and we were trying to please other people with the music a few years ago and it just wasn't working so we just started to try write music that made us feel good about ourselves again and that is when we came up with this band and Coasts. Everything on the album is just us writing music that makes us feel good and not worrying about anything else. It is a real combination of just us being friends and in a band and making music that makes us happy about that.
Liam: Optimism is something that runs throughout the whole thing. Through all the highs and lows and seeing the good side.
David: The whole journey as a band has seen a lot of tough times, but it’s about looking at it all fondly when you look back on it. That is the thing about being in a band together. Even the times where we have been at our lowest and that were really tough like being sat on the side of the motorway at 4am with a broken van and no money you still look back on it really fondly and weirdly. The whole album is about being optimistic.
Liam: And coming through the dark times. I actually have a twenty minute video of darkness and of us talking at that time when we were at the side of the road and we were saying we cant do this, it isn't working, we need to give up.
David: Yeah, because we literally had no money and it would have cost about £500 to get the van towed back to Bristol and yeah dark times.
Chris: Bizarrely we were still laughing and joking but yeah it was like sad Spinal Tap. Being in a band is like Spinal Tap. I don't know if they are all the same but anyone who wants to start a band then watch Spinal Tap and it will be exactly the same. You watch that and you think oh that is just a comedy but no it is real.
David: The number of times we have turned up to a gig and there has been only two people there or something ridiculous has happened like it is so often.
Ben: We had that one that got flooded.
David: Oh yeah, we were playing in Glasgow and there were buckets everywhere and water coming out the ceilings. Just before we went on I went to the toilet and it was just flooded and then we had to go play a gig with all these high powered electrical amps and there were like four people there. Here we are haha.

And now you are here.
David: Exactly.
Liam: This album is essentially that story. The sound is very anthemic and it mixes dance and rock and all the influences we love. It is essentially the route we have taken from that point in the church when we decided to just scrap everything and do it our own way and now we are finally going to release it.
David: Everything is still the same it is just from when we decided to be true to ourselves.


Photography Assistant: Mark Underwood.
Fashion Assistant: Molly Grace Senior.
Words by India Opie Meres.

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