In April 2017, Coin released their sophomore album, How Will You Know If You Never Try, which featured a track called “Don’t Cry, 2020.” Since then, the Coin guys (frontman Chase Lawrence, drummer Ryan Winnen, and guitarist Joe Memmel) have gone through a lot: They parted ways with their original bassist, became an independent group, and experienced personal hardships.
But on Friday (Feb. 21), Coin’s 2017 track became strikingly relevant: in spit of the tough past few years, the trio isn’t sad at all. Instead, they’re elated to be releasing their third album, Dreamland, in 2020.
That’s not to say the album process was easy — in fact, there was a point where Coin was almost no more. Once they began writing for what would become Dreamland, though, Lawrence, Winnen and Memmel were reminded of the magic they have together. And now, they’re sharing the stories behind all 14 songs on the album (plus an additional vinyl-only track) with Billboard.
Below, hear from all three Coin members about Dreamland, including the three words that define the album, which tracks went through some major changes and the song that saved the band.
“Into My Arms”
“The first track on an album holds a key, and selecting the track to unlock what lies ahead isn’t always obvious. This song hosts the DNA of our songwriting, and immediately felt like the perfect introduction to this new chapter. ‘Coin things’ are abound. The instrumentation exemplifies all of our individual tendencies and reminds me of when we’d practice at the house on Elberta St., where Joe and I used to live. Writing this song felt like fruit to that labor.” — Winnen
“I Want It All”
“This song came out of nowhere. We showed up to our friend Isom’s apartment ready to work on something completely different, and this is where we ended up. I sat at the piano & played the beginning riff. By dinner, we were recording drums. The next night, we stayed at Mark Foster’s house until 4 a.m., completely finishing the song — vocals and all. We never finished what we went to work on at Isom’s house in the first place.” — Lawrence
“Anyone who worked on this song knows that its given Dropbox name was ‘Sports Shuffle.’ There was no set intention or specific inspiration walking in, but the song that fell out proved to be a binding agent for the album and for our live show, too. When the last chorus hits, I suddenly realize I’ve summited a mountain without knowledge of having climbed one.” — Winnen
“In the beginning loop, I am affirming the beat with a simple ‘yeah.’ We pitch-shifted it down an octave with a tape machine, and we never thought about it again. ‘Simple Boy,’ as it was known on my computer for months, was so effortless to write. We (I) channeled a fantasy: Daft Punk covering John Lennon as a musical guest on SNL circa 2001 (none of which is real, but the whimsy of the idea helped me). The same ‘Sports Shuffle’ night, Mark also added the perfect bass part & some sci-fi noises. Busy night.” — Lawrence
“Crash My Car”
“When talking about this song, we can’t help but mention the meaning. I’ll briefly touch on that. A fan who we know and love showed up to a small show of ours in Oxford, Mississippi in her near totaled, headlight-hanging sedan. When she told me the story of her accident (thank God she was okay), I remembered that it’s not about what you have, it’s about who you’re with. Okay, that was beautiful. To the more complicated side…
“From tiptoeing around lyrics to endless production changes, no song has ever been more difficult to write. This chorus melody came to our friend in a dream. By the end of our writing session, I was listening to what I thought was a finished song. The chorus was sloshy and sludgy, with a 10 BPM tempo change downward. It might’ve been a little indulgent… Based on the time of day you were listening, caffeinated or not, sleep deprived or maniacal, the chorus felt either tiresomely slow or insanely fast. After months and months and months of tweaking, we hit the sweet spot. The verse is 95 BPM, the pre chorus is 88.5, and the chorus is 92. I learned more making this song than I did making the entire album. TRUST THE PROCESS. Every wrong turn, every dumb experiment, and every perfect idea.” — Lawrence
“Ryan sent me a vocal he recorded on his Macbook. No music, just the melody and lyric. I built the entire track around the feeling the lyrics gave me. The song ends with the spoken, ‘I wanna be here. I see here. I wanna love here.’ This sums the entire album up in three sentences.” — Lawrence
“This lyric and melody came to me while I was walking down the street. Chase always knows what something needs when it’s in a more primitive form. If Joe or I send a spirited vocal idea without production, Chase listens carefully and draws out the raw emotion by making the perfect musical choices. We have many ways of making music together, but this trust-fall process has become one of my favorites.” — Winnen
“At the time we were writing this song, my parents were going through a divorce. I was all in. The emotions I felt while writing this were unlike anything I had ever experienced. It felt so good to stare at words on a piece of paper that explained how I felt. And the same words can mean something totally different to someone else. Honestly, I cry almost every time we perform this song. Don’t be selfish, it will ruin you.” — Memmel
“The same team that brought you ‘Talk Too Much’ landed on a very different sentiment this time. The song originally started much, much slower. After sitting with it, we kind of felt that the lyrics may have been too dreary coupled with the tempo. We sped it up, and this vivid story of a lonely man who ‘had it all’ just came out. We rewrote the verses in a matter of minutes. I have this German synth caller Memotron, and it’s on full display in this track. I can perfectly see the ghost choir singing the beginning notes.” — Lawrence
“The clouds were dark, literally, due to the smoke from extreme fires in Los Angeles. At the same time, we were feeling a lot of doubt and confusion about our career. Out of the strangest two weeks in California, we made a song that helped us to shift our perspective. This one saved Coin and helped us press reset. ‘Youuu’ was the first song we wrote for Dreamland.” — Lawrence
“I’ll never forget when Chase called me upstairs to listen to the beginning of this idea. I couldn’t believe he was trying to create something during such a weird and disorienting moment in time. It inspired me to push through (with a freshly broken foot…). When we got back to Nashville, we finished recording this track with the help of Zach Dyke, who was our bassist for years. It was the most surreal feeling. It felt like we were closing a chapter yet opening a new one.” — Memmel
“I was upstairs in one of the other rooms of the house and heard Chase singing, ‘It’s always been you’ while playing the piano. It was instant and familiar. Once in a while, when someone is creating something brand new, someone else comes along and says, ‘What song is that?’ — ‘Youuu’ is one of those songs. It’s a forever song.” — Winnen
“‘Rock n Roll Song’ was the title of the original pro tools session. I texted the guys a verse and an empty chorus. They seemed inspired. Almost immediately, Ryan sent back some chorus vocals, and Joe played the perfect guitar part. ‘96 Bulls. Joe is Michael Jordan, I am Scotty Pippen, and Ryan is Dennis Rodman.” — Lawrence
“The three of us live in different cities now, and often send ideas across the country when we’re not together. This song feels like driving, when there is nothing else in sight but abstract shapes & ground lit by headlights. Creating this song was a bit-by-bit, building block process that allowed everyone to leave pieces of themselves scattered about for the listener to discover. It was egoless and fun. I like our team.” — Winnen
“We tried to write this song five different times in four different keys in three different states. After years of wrestling with this chorus, it finally snapped into place like a long lost puzzle piece. Our touring bassist Matt Martin finished mixing this track. I’ll never forget my only mix note: ‘make it sound worse.'” — Lawrence
“We were at the end of a long writing trip. We were all experiencing challenging times, both personally and within the band. Back at home, my girlfriend was having a rough time too, transitioning to living in New York City. She was dealing with self doubt and having a hard time fitting in. I’ll never forget writing this song, while simultaneously texting her that I love her the way she is and encouraging her to absolutely never change. All of us need encouragement.” — Memmel
“This song presented itself to us and said, ‘Listen, I know you guys have a strong affinity for ’80s new wave. I also know that you’re unabashedly you. Let me help.’ We were nearing the bottom of our creative well on that trip. Which, looking back, might’ve also been the top. To Joe’s point, I think our heightened sensitivity helped us to write through our own lens of emotion, but with consideration for our loved ones, too.
“This session was on my 25th birthday, December 16th, 2017. Joe’s is the 20th. Lucia’s (Joe’s lovely girlfriend) is the 17th. I don’t like to employ astrology as the umbrella of absolutes, but you can see where this is going. ‘Never Change’ is a bit of a fire song, which also possesses this earthy, unwavering loyalty thanks to Chase’s Virgo. Big love to the person who reads this and says, ‘So true, man. I felt that.'” — Winnen
“Strawberry Sunset” (On vinyl only)
“This is an impromptu iPhone voice memo of a piano piece I’ve been working on for years. At the end, you can clearly hear our friend say, ‘That’s beautiful.’ To me, vinyl implies that the listener wants to hear the album in sequence, and I felt like the back half of the album needed a segue. This track almost feels like a sunset (given the name), and it makes the last few songs dig a little deeper.” — Lawrence
“The first album has ‘Lately,’ the second has ‘Lately II.’ This is the third and, likely, last of the ‘Lately’ family. Starting by the title ‘MSL (Midsummer Lover),’ the song was finished in less than 30 minutes. After months of writing, rewriting and repeating that process, I came to realize I was confusing working with overthinking. So, we added a beautiful string section, and we were done with it. The songs that are easiest to write are always the hardest to finish. I think I’m seeing a pattern in my creative process.” — Lawrence
“Our story begins on a stage in Malibu at Pepperdine. I have a sketchy voice memo from that day, shouting over Ryan’s drums, ‘Stop playing for 10 seconds.’ Okay, that was kind of rude, but I knew I would forget it. I’m sorry, Ryan.” — Lawrence
“Later on, we had a few days off in Nashville. We decided to book a space to get creative. We ended up writing the rest of it, which was a bit ‘left field’ for us at the time.” — Memmel
“Also, let’s not forget the best part: Joey’s guitar solo — recorded on the bus in the Seattle Showbox parking lot.” — Lawrence
“Some of our favorite songs have found us at soundcheck! Later, in Nashville, our friend Trent Dabbs sort of mumble-sang the first melodies that came to mind over the entire track, and we ended up keeping a lot of it. We love you, Trent.” — Winnen
“‘Tell me if it’s real’ is the only line sung by a small choir. This is a quote we posted three years ago simply to tease a new song. To some fans, the idea of and search for ‘real’ became very important. Before the most intimate and personal song of the album, it felt right to repeat this as somewhat of a mantra.” — Lawrence
“Let It All Out (10:05)”
“By this point, I’m sure you’ve caught a theme. Uncertainty, as it does for most twentysomethings, has played a massive role in the last two years of our lives. 1005 is a number I’ve seen all my life. I don’t know what it means, but I try to take as a sign to be more present. I’ve spent so much time climbing a ladder and looking up, without realizing that there’s a nice view all around me. This song was produced entirely in my bedroom at my parents’ house, except the church choir…” — Lawrence