COIN, the indie-pop band that first gained mainstream success with their 2016 single “Talk Too Much,” is ready for a fresh phase.
Having toured throughout the year in promotion of their sophomore album, How Will You Know If You Never Try, the band recently dropped two new singles — “Simple Romance” and “Cemetery” — to kick off the next part of their journey. This all comes ahead of a forthcoming album set to release next year and a group of 2019 tour dates (below).
Billboard talked with frontman Chase Lawrence to get the scoop on COIN’s upcoming album, latest songs and overall transformation as a band.
You recently released a video for your single “Simple Romance.” How does it connect to where you are as a band right now?
We went through a lot of just changes in the past year. I don’t think it’s that unique — I think we’re just growing up. We wanted that to reflect in all this new music we’re putting out. We really worked collectively together to make something that’s like a stamp in time to where we are right now. And for the video, it’s kind of like symbolic in a way. It’s like the smoke is enveloping us to a new place and a new period — a new chapter in the COIN book. We’ve always tried to do that with music. That’s why our first album’s cover was white, because we were starting over. The second one, we went all red because it was like a representation of where we were; we’re painting the walls. We’re just trying to completely wipe the slate clean and say, “What’ve we done in the past? Let’s do something completely different now.”
Expanding upon that, could you describe this new era?
Honestly, it’s shifted so much in the past year. But right now, looking at this body of work and what it’s become and what it’s become to mean to me, it’s so much more personal to all of us than it ever has been. I’m writing about things that I never ever knew were inside of me or ever knew that I was comfortable talking about. It’s real — not like superficial love problems, but real anxieties and things we’ve all worked through as a band in the past year, goal-oriented or relationship-oriented. It’s the chapter of us finally being honest with our fans and ourselves for the first time really ever.
You said the theme is different with this album. What about the sound?
Sonically, I don’t think we’ve ever experiment so much but also so little. We definitely tried different things and just kind of viewed every song for the universe it was in, rather than trying to get into “how do we make this into this” mode or “how do we mold this into what the album is?” In the past, we tried to make this patchwork quilt, and this time we’re like, “Let’s make a song as good as it can be, and hopefully, it’ll stand on its own.” It’s an experiment, but I don’t think we’ve ever been happier. Also, more specifically, it’s much more sparse sonically, and just smaller sounds, tighter sounds and closer vocals. In the past, we’ve used flashback delay or reverb, and there is plenty of that on the album, but the vocals are just a little more clear and upfront and honest.
What was the songwriting process like for this album?
When we first started, we would get in the room and we would just write songs, and whatever came out in that period, we’d be like, “Oh, cool. That sounds good.” And over time we started working, collaborating with different producers and writers, and it got so flooded — so many cooks in the kitchen. And not that that doesn’t happen now — but we let so many voices in our ears that it got to be a place that our voices got lost in the muck. But now, for this album, we worked collaboratively just like we did when we started the band in my dorm room. I’m getting all giddy thinking about it, actually, because it’s cool to watch us go around the world and look back to where we started from, and it feels really right.
Are there any cool collaborators on the record?
We worked with Mark Foster and Isom Innis from Foster the People. They kind of helped us realize some potential in songs that we didn’t fully understand. We just brought them these ideas and they’re like, “Oh cool, well if you just shift these parts around,” and we were like, “Oh my gosh, that’s perfect.” So yeah, they were like mentors for a couple, and we wrote with them, too. But we definitely limited who we worked with for this album. We worked with some wonderful, wonderful pop writers — just like the best pop writers in the world — and you know, not all those songs are going to be heard because they don’t fully identify or resonate with who we are, this chapter in our life, but maybe they’ll be heard one day.
Were there any specific artists you drew inspiration from for this album?
I think when we started this process I was listening to so much LCD Soundsystem, I forgot what band I was in for a minute. But yeah, we love LCD, and actually, like the first two Daft Punk records were huge inspiration on this album, and there’s this Peter Bjorn and John album called Writer’s Block that continues to serve as inspiration for us for honestly forever. If you look way back, we’re always intimately inspired by David Byrne and Talking Heads.
How close is the album to being complete right now?
Yesterday I got my hard drive back. I’m really irresponsible, and I lost like four songs on my hard drive that were like pretty much finished. But thanks to data recovery, they recovered the sessions perfectly, except for one of them, which has a lot of like corrupted files. But yeah, the album, I would say, is very close. It’s like I can see the sunset. It’s almost done.
What is your recent song “Cemetery” about?
The song has morphed and evolved day by day by day until the moment it was done. I still listen to it and am like, “Oh my gosh, I wish there was something I could change about it to make it different,” but I just think it’s so special that I don’t think it’s ever going to be done. But that song, it was when we just finished our first headline tour for How Will You Know If You Never Try, which was kind of centered around legacy and death and what you’ll really be remembered for, and it just seemed so obvious. I got so caught up in the future and what’s next in my life, that I lose track of what’s right in front of me. And that’s where the idea of the song came from, and we just realized as a band how important it was to identify what matters most and just go after that with all you have. I’ve honestly never been more proud of a song, ever.
How does it feel to sing such personal songs in front of crowds of people who resonate with them in their own way?
Well, I don’t really know how that feels yet, because we haven’t had the opportunity to really do it on like a big level. I’ve had the opportunity to sing amazing songs that have come from my heart — that sounds so lame — that have come from my brain, and have been able to sing that. They’ve been real, and they’ve come from real places, but they’ve been kind of time-stamped to a younger part of my life rather than what’s happening right now. That’s going to be a maybe odd experience, but I’m excited to bring some realness into the music that we’re making. Not that we haven’t done that before and been real in the past, but never to the level that we’re doing now.
Are there any other interesting songs you’re hoping end up on the record that link back to a certain part of your life?
Yeah, I wrote one recently when we went to the Philippines. There’s not really like medium-sized venues, there’s just like shopping malls and arenas. So we played these shopping malls, and it’s just an odd experience to play in front of a Gap or like a Burger King. It was a little disorienting. We had security with us, and I felt very lost in it. It was amazing to see all the incredible people singing along. It felt like a second home — but there was one day where I was just like, “What am I doing? I’m thousands of miles away from home and playing in a mall.” And not that it’s not amazing, but you know, I just had this moment — and I was like, “Oh my gosh. I don’t know what I’m doing with my life.” And it lasted, it was very brief — it eclipsed — and the words just spilled out of me on the stage at like sound check. We finished that song in the past month, and yeah, that song means everything to me. Hopefully, it does a lot for the rest of the fans as well.
Do you feel like a lot of the songs on this album are more from your perspective or the band as a whole?
This time I think we’ve shared a lot of sentiments because we’ve experienced a lot of heartbreak. We’ve experienced collective disappointments sometimes when we’ve just over-thought something to death, and we’ll go back to them like, “Why did we even struggle that much with something we can’t even really control or change?” and so from that perspective, we all share it, but as far as the relationship stuff, yeah, that’s all pretty personal to me. But they’ve all contributed to my thoughts. We’ve all lived the songs together.
Zach Dyke recently left the band to focus on production and engineering. What has it been like moving on after that?
I would lie if I said it was easy, because I love him. He’s my best friend in the whole world — I mean, literally, my best friend. But he’s so talented and so amazing and we knew it for a long time that he wanted to be home and pursuing and getting better at what he wanted to do ultimately in life, and none of us wanted to hold him up from that. So moving on from that, we’re still going to create together, we’re still going to make music together, we’re still going to talk — we talk everyday — but it has been a weird transition, not to see him on stage and not to see him at press or recording all the time or writing. But you know, I think it was really necessary for him to step into his own and do what he really felt he was called to do.
What can you tell us about your upcoming tour?
It’s basically a month, fourteen shows in some of our favorite cities to play in America. We’re just trying to play as much of the new music in these cities as possible in a short amount of time, and then we’re heading back to Europe and then back to Asia. I’m so excited for those because a lot of those are cities we haven’t played in a year, and we’re playing kind of similar-sized rooms to what we played earlier this year. We had the best experience of our entire lives on the theater tour we did earlier. If I could relive that again, I’m thrilled.
Do you have any special surprises or a certain vibe you’d like your next tour to have?
We’re just trying to work on something completely different and deconstruct what we’ve known our live show to be in the past and kind of break the fourth wall a little bit — just doing something that makes the crowd feel involved a little more than just watching four people on a stage kind of elevated. We’re still working on a set. What the fans have built is so interesting, and it’s like this different family-oriented thing that I never, never knew was going to happen like this, and I just want to try to build on that in a way that makes people feel like they’re really part of it when they’re at the show. So we’re still working on that, but we’re hoping to really pull it together.
What do you see COIN’s future as a band looking like?
I would be lying if I didn’t say I wanted to be the biggest band in the world, but I think that’s unhealthy to kind of put those limitations on yourself. It’s not limitations — it’s kind of lofty goals — but if we can keep doing what we’re doing, just making people as happy as possible, that’s what matters. I can’t get over the way we’ve built this from the ground to something I never expected. I guess you never see it happening the way it happens. In the way that the fans have adapted almost like in, again, a family, it’s so odd. And if we could just keep doing that family and tight-knit thing? I think it would make me so happy if we could continue that and just make the family bigger. If we can just keep doing what we’re doing, that would be awesome. We’re also releasing a song in January, and I’m really excited about it.
COIN 2019 Tour Dates
Feb. 5 — Orlando, FL @ The Beacham Theater
Feb. 6 — Atlanta, GA @ Buckhead Theater
Feb. 8 — Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
Feb. 9 — New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
Feb. 10 — Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
Feb. 12 — Toronto, ON @ Opera House
Feb. 15 — Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
Feb. 17 — Dallas, TX @ House of Blues
Feb. 20 — Salt Lake City, UT @ Depot
Feb. 23 — Seattle, WA @ The Showbox
Feb. 24 — Vancouver, BC @ The Venue
Feb. 27 — San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore
March 1 — Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern