Welcome to New Noise, a shout-out to Refused and a new weekly Billboard.com column highlighting up-and-coming alternative and rock artists. It’s a weekly shout-out to an artist who’s just beginning to enter a bigger stage and spotlight, and whom we hope you, the reader, hears much more from in the future.
Nashville has been more than country music for some time; but what about a band of Tennessee transplants who aren’t named Jack White or the Black Keys and sound like they’re from L.A. or England? In COIN’s case, sure! Vocalist-synth player Chase Lawrence, guitarist-vocalist Joe Memmel, bassist Zachary Dyke and drummer Ryan Winnen met at Nashville’s Belmont University and strove to stand out in a campus crowded with aspiring musicians. They formed in 2012, first realized they “might be onto something” after selling out a show for the first time in July 2013, and were signed to Columbia by the fall of that year. If you’re wondering how they pulled this off or are just into hooky neo-new-wave, check out what the guys had to say when visiting Billboard’s New York office this month.
In Nashville, the roles of “songwriter” and “performer” can be very divided. What made you guys want to do both?
Chase: When everyone (at Belmont) wanted to be a writer, I realized that we’re all writing for, like, 12 artists in Nashville. And hundreds of people are going to be going for the same spot. I thought to myself, “I think I’ll have a better shot of writing my own songs and having a 100 percent chance of recording them.” I wanted to write and perform my own songs.
A lot more rock music has been coming out of Nashville lately; it’s not just country. Why do you think that is?
Joe: You have the obvious ones — Jack White and the Black Keys — who aren’t only living there, but setting up studios and signing garage and rock bands to their labels and recording them. Rather than going to New York or L.A., they’ve set up shop in Nashville.
Chase: The answer just might be Jack White, actually.
Ryan: Jack White, the Black Keys, and Kings of Leon all represent very well, and they’re very intentional about it. They talk about the hometown feel that Nashville has, versus being lost in a major city. Also, a lot of people want to start a family and be able to buy property, which is so difficult in L.A. and New York. So a lot of industry has moved to Nashville, too.
Do you think your sound is more rock or pop?
Chase: I think they’re pop songs, but it’s rock instrumentation.
Ryan: They’re pop songs, with real instruments and a lot more energy.
Chase: That was a goal going into it. Our producer (and co-writer, Jay Joyce) wanted to capture the live show and translate it into the recording. It’s something we could never do on our own. Through his wizardry and magic tricks, he got that on tape. I didn’t really understand what he was doing, because he’s kind of a crazy guy, in the best way.
From what I’ve heard you guys say, the Cure seems like your biggest influence. Is that true?
Chase: The Cure is a huge influence. There’s so much new wave music we didn’t know about until Jay showed it to us.
Ryan: He gave us a list of about 10 bands to listen to. We got these records and listened to them a month before we went into the studio.
Joe: He’d sit us down on this long, 10-foot couch and our hair was basically blowing in the wind.
Chase: He played Modern English‘s “I Melt With You” the loudest I’ve ever heard,
Zack: While he put up his hood over his Cleveland Indians hat, lit a cigarette, and closed his eyes.
Ryan: The reason why he did that — I’m guessing — is because we were already influenced by the modern stuff that followed those guys. Like, “Dude, you don’t want to sound like that band. Let’s take it back to the beginning. That’s why that band sounds the way they do.”
Chase: He has a bullhorn: “If you say ‘The Strokes’ one more time!”