Hailing from High-Wycombe is the 5 piece indie-pop act Coastal Cities, a group of friends who met during school detention and realised whilst sitting there in 'silence' that they shared a huge passion for music, and so decided to form a band. Their first EP, ‘Think Tank’, was met with positive reactions from critics, the public and fellow musicians, with Brooklyn act The Drums even jumping online to tweet about the guys.
It has been a big 12 months for the lads. Not only did they play the Kitsune night at Les Inrocks Festival in Paris and 1,2,3,4 in London, their EP and recently released single ‘Entropic’have both been making huge waves. However, it was their leap into fashion that was most surprising; not only did some of the boys walk for Saint Laurent for Fashion Week in Paris, the band recently featured in Burberry’scampaign for their new sunglasses range. Lead vocalist Declan Cullen explains; “It wasn’t something we were expecting to do, it came as quite a surprise. We did a catwalk for Saint Laurent in Paris for Fashion week, which was the scariest thing we have ever done haha. We definitely enjoyed it though; it was such a surreal feeling and experience. I guess that’s how we got picked up by the fashion industry - from there we worked with Burberry. I think it’s quite a cool avenue for bands to take, because the two are so closely linked and when they gel together it really works."
Boys by Girls was invited to invade the band's rehearsal for an afternoon to capture some images and an interview in their rehearsal studio. Decked out in vintage grandpa sweaters, turned up denim jeans, and overflowing with handsome swagger, the guys chatted about their music, style, influences, and recent foray into the fashion world. And whilst Cecilie Harris captured the boys in full rehearsal action, the rest of the team enjoyed the music as it flowed out into the room.
Hi, Coastal Citis, thank you for inviting us to hang at your rehearsal today. What should our readers know about the band?
Lewis: I like potato waffles.
Declan: I think you guys need to know that. No, haha! Well, we have been friends for many years. We met when we were in school, and have been playing together and writing songs together for many years. I think the fact that we met when we were so young comes across in our music.
Will: It captures youth, I’d say.
Declan: Yeah, I think our music captures youth quite nicely.
How did you guys come up with the name Coastal Cities?
Declan: Will was looking through an iPod and jumbling words together; we were at school and I don’t know if he remembers doing this, but I remember.
Will: I think I do haha.
Declan: Anyway, we found the name Coastal Cities by piecing together different song names from that iPod.
Will: We wanted something different from all of the other bands that were around us, all of the bands where we lived were hard-core bands, and they were all called pretty aggressive names, so we wanted something different, and that’s where it came from really.
Declan: Also, where we lived, High-Wycombe is there furthest point from the sea, so I guess that factored into it.
When asked what genre they would place themselves in, the guys rattled off not only genres, but also cities and places; “I think early 80’s dodgy nu-wave, or like late 90’s pop, not brit-pop but more jangly guitar music. Maybe from Manchester, I think I could see us being from Manchester. Or maybe Glasgow. Definitely not from the South. Possibly Oxford, but they are a bit pretentious with their music. I guess we could be European, but we have like this tropically beach vibe about us, so maybe we could live in Miami, that would be kind of nice.”
What was the process behind writing and putting together your single, ‘Entropic’?
Will: It was a pretty slow process. I think we just came up with what we wanted for the main melodies, like what we wanted to pull through the most, and then we just worked around that.
Declan: Initially it was the jangly guitar chords at the beginning and that really rumbly bass line. We would practice a section and then work out what it would go into. After that, our producer condensed it down to just the strongest sections of the song, and we worked on it from there until we came up with something we were really happy with.
Above: Cecilie Harris captures the boys in Coastal Cities during their rehearsal.
As far as favourite bands go, they guys seemed to generally have pretty similar taste; “We like Edwyn Collins (Nu-Sonics, Orange Juice) and also Aphex Twins and Jimmy Hendricks, they are all great pioneers of their genres. We like a lot of Brooklyn bands, a lot of bands from New York, like The Drums and DIIV and Beach Fossils. I guess also bands like French Films from Finland, The Smiths, a bit of Blink182, and Orange Juice. I think we just wanted to be Orange Juice haha. Basically we like stuff that is really melancholic with major key pop, but not cheesy. Like if you have a really upbeat song and you're singing about a holiday, then we are not interested, but if you have a really upbeat song and you're singing about never going on holiday, then we are interested.”
You have been gigging around a lot lately, what do you guys do to keep sane when you are on the road?
Lewis: I don’t know, I think the road is pretty fun. I quite like being on the road.
Sean: We like to take pictures.
Declan: Smoke cigarettes, sleep.
Will: Drink smoothies, drink wine, have cute picnics.
Sean: Having baths, we like to have baths haha.
Will: Funny videos, dinner dates.
Declan: There’s this game called Crazy Diving on my phone, I play that sometimes, it’s great.
Above: Check out the video for their latest Single "Entropic" above. If you want to listen to more, you can click here to watch "Nothing Ever Changes".
Heading back into fashion territory, we couldn't help but admire the eclectic display of sweaters in front of us. Will explains; "I like finding a really cool item of clothing and treasuring it, as opposed to going to a shop and buying something that I'm going to see a guy down the street wearing. I like wearing stuff that only I'm going to have, cause then its only me who gets to rock it haha.
What is the most beautiful thing in the world?'
Declan: I think we might get in trouble if we say haha.
BBG: One band said clean socks on tour.
Will: Oh ok, wow.
Declan: Can we do a group one? I think as a group, I'm going to say a nice refreshing drink.
Lewis: A nice refreshing drink, really? The most beautiful thing in the world? No way haha.
Will: Maybe a beautiful evening, where the sun is setting and the grass smells great. Like at Mabbit Hill.
Declan: Mabbit Hill? That’s not the most beautiful thing in the world, that right in my backyard. Maybe like, young little babies.
Lewis: What? Young little babies?! haha You cant say that!
Declan: In that they are like a clean sheet! I meant the innocence of a baby!
And with that perfect ending, we left our afternoon with the Coatal Cities boys feeling musically edicated and a little bit cooler. It was a win-win situation, and we can't wait to check in on them again.
For more about Coastal Cities you can check out their website. You can also buy their music on iTunes.
Photography by Cecilie Harris.
Interview by Hannah Ficking.
Words by Nathanael Rice.