Caffeine, Small Talk, and New Music: Catching Up with COIN

COIN © Zachary Gray

Sometimes, thinking less is more. That’s the lesson for Nashville’s COIN, at least. The Columbia-signed band wrote their latest single in three hours, making what came to them naturally and trying not to overthink things. Released in May, “Talk Too Much” has gone on to be COIN’s most successful song to-date, leading them into the previously-unchartered world of radio and scoring them their first #1 on Alt Nation – a huge win and, as its members are quickly finding out, a total game changer.

COIN © Zachary Gray

COIN © Zachary Gray

“It’s a whole new level of success every day… like a never-ending, unfolding canyon,” describes frontman Chase Lawrence of coping with this moment. “It’s truly a never-ending cycle; there’s always something new you want tomorrow.” Formed at Nashville’s Belmont University by Lawrence, guitarist Joe Memmel, drummer Ryan Winnen and bassist Zachary Dyke, COIN self-released two EPs before signing to StarTime International/Columbia Records in 2014. The band released their self-titled debut album in mid-2015, at the time telling Atwood Magazine they were a “rock band making guitar-driven music in a world that’s totally synth-driven.”

“The Cure, Psychedelic Furs, The Strokes – these are the bands that influenced us. I understand that we have that ‘Top 40’ sound that Walk The Moon is making so popular, and we realized when making this record that we had the capability of making something sounding generic – that wasn’t generic at the time, but now is.” – Chase Lawrence

The past year and a half following COIN‘s release has been a consistent slew of touring as the band worked to get their name out there, performing alongside such acts as Neon Trees and Betty Who and traveling coast-to-coast in a van. Though it is still unfolding, COIN’s story appears to be one of triumph – that hard work, patience and dedication do pay off.

“Talk Too Much” is, in some ways, the product of the band’s intense efforts. Described in our May track feature as a “sonically bright and frolicking, but lyrically critical” song, “Talk Too Much” captures that free-spirited nature of the summer while at the same time throwing the middle finger to superficiality – whether it comes from those around them, or as the title suggests, themselves.

Caffeine, small talk
Wait out the plastic weather
Mmhmm, uh uh, discussing current events
I’ll take my time
I’m not the forward thinker
You read my mind
Better to leave it unsaid
Why can’t I leave it unsaid?

COIN’s “Talk Too Much” Captures Summer Spirit

by Mitch Mosk

It’s a very good time for Chase Lawrence and his bandmates: “Talk Too Much” recently enjoyed its third week atop the alternative radio chart, the band’s current string of tour dates includes gigs with The 1975, Bad Suns and The Struts (all Atwood Magazine favorites), and best of all, COIN’s second album is complete! “We have very much so crafted ten songs that work together, but are very diverse and different,” explains Lawrence of COIN’s sophomore record, anticipated in 2017. Sonically, “a lot of [the new album’s] moments are of the “Talk Too Much” pop influence, but then there is some stuff that we recorded on our own that we really dug in, and found the kind of music that we really are influenced by, and just let it soak.”

Lawrence attributes the success of “Talk Too Much” to its carefree nature, which the band employed throughout their recording sessions. Do not mistake not overthinking things with a lack of thought: COIN penned over 100 songs over the past year, whittling down to 10 tracks in their quest to “make an album that is a very diverse listening experience, but at the same time, is unique and sonically COIN.”

If “Talk Too Much” is any indication (and apparently, it is), COIN’s new album is one to be on the lookout for in the coming months. Atwood Magazine caught up with Chase Lawrence during the band’s recent tour to discuss COIN’s growth, radio success, “Talk Too Much” too much and more.

You know I talk too much
Honey, come put your lips on mine
And shut me up
We could blame it all on human nature
Stay cool, it’s just a kiss
Oh, why you gotta be so talkative?
I talk too much, we talk too much

Watch: “Talk Too Much” – COIN

CATCHING UP WITH COIN

Atwood Magazine: To what do you attest your recent successes?

Chase Lawrence: I don’t know! I think we really cut our teeth; we played a lot of dirty venues. We’ve grinded, followed a bus tour, driven through the night to get to places – and not that it’s like, we have it made or we’ve done it; it’s a never-ending process. Recently, radio has picked up for us, which has been unreal; it’s something we did not even expect at all, and that has really changed everything for us, the band. I think we also wrote a song – this song came out so easily, so effortlessly, so quickly, that I feel it’s the carefree nature of it that resonated with a lot of people.

We spoke a year and a half ago, right before your first album COIN came out. It's been a long time!

Chase: Yeah, it’s been a minute! Since then, we’ve obviously toured quite a bit, but we also wrote like a hundred songs from November to July. We were just writing – our guitarist Joe (Memmel) and I spent two months in LA, writing every day with different people.

How do you diversify it when you're writing so many songs?

Chase: It is so tough! Luckily, being on tour, you come up with a lot of ideas, do the research, see what connects with certain people, certain things you say, you read and travel, so you’re taking in a lot. I keep a note in my phone of titles, words, concepts, and drawings that I’m drawn to, and I look at Tumblr a lot on the road… Those things really inspire me. Day one writing for album two: Ten days off our headlining tour, we wrote “Talk Too Much” (laughs) and we were like, this album is going to be a piece of cake! We’re going to get this album done in ten days. So eight months and 150 songs later, it turns out it wasn’t that easy, but now the recording is basically done; we’ve narrowed down 100 songs to ten songs. As far as diversifying, I don’t know – I think it’s just like, that master note I have in my phone, of going into a different write, and also writing with different people. If I had to write with myself every day, I probably would write the same song over and over accidentally, but we’ve been really lucky to write with some amazing writers who keep us new, challenging us to simplify and also make stuff more complex. That process for us has been very important for this album.

I understand that with COIN, the songs came so quickly. Looking at the “Talk Too Much” lyrics, I mean, it’s a notepad of experience!

Chase: Absolutely! It’s a brutally honest notepad. Day one we wrote that; in three hours, we were out of the write that day with “Talk Too Much.” Joe and I were in a Vons grocery store, listening to the demo on our phone, by like 8 o’ clock, and the write started at 4.

So this is one that really came naturally. This is the lead single for the new record, too.

Chase: It was so obvious that that’s what needed to happen; it set such a tone for the album, and it gave us this really great excitement to write more and to write even better songs! It set the bar for us, so I’m glad we got that out first.

What can we expect to hear on the rest of the album? Is this an album full of“Talk Too Much”s?

Chase: It’s a pretty diverse album! We recorded four songs with Tim Pagnotta (Neon Trees, Walk the Moon), who recorded and produced “Talk Too Much,” so four of the songs are “Talk Too Much”-esque; they kind of live in that vein, sonically and musically. When we work together with him, we definitely make a certain type of sound, which is like the Talk Too Much sound. As for the rest of the album, we did two songs with a producer in New York, Andrew Maury. Those songs are a little more unique, with like a lot of interesting sounds – like field recorder sounds. I recorded a lot of stuff with my iPhone, and those ended up in those songs, and tape recorder is on those songs… And then, the other six songs we recorded as a band in a studio in Nashville a couple weeks ago. We produced all those ourselves, and those are… As far as diversity is concerned, it is a very diverse album. A lot of moments are of the “Talk Too Much” pop influence, but then there is some stuff that we recorded on our own that we really dug in, and found the kind of music that we really are influenced by, and just let it soak. I’m proud of the stuff that we made by ourselves – I can’t say they’re not radio hits, but we definitely wanted to make songs that we were proud of, and songs that we touched. You can obviously tell they’re a product of us.

How many radio hits did Led Zeppelin have?

Chase: Precisely, that’s exactly the concept we were going for.

It's so interesting that your music is sort of divided into three different phases. What's the purpose of this new album? What are you looking to do with 'round two'?

Chase: “Round two”… Well, I think with “Round one” – we just listened to it the other night in the van, and we were actually pleasantly surprised. The first album was like a collection of songs that we had, to-date. It wasn’t necessarily an album, you know? It wasn’t like a ‘thing’; it was just ten songs that we had written to that day, and we were like, I guess this is an album! I think it really worked out nicely, but with this album, we have very much so crafted ten songs that work together, but are very diverse and different. That’s what we want to do – make an album that is a very diverse listening experience, but at the same time, is unique and sonically COIN. 

Sonically COIN?

Chase: Like the COIN sound, but with very different mediums, different instruments, different song structure, even embracing different genres.

It's a transformation.

Chase: Absolutely. A transformation, almost – I was explaining this to someone earlier – almost regressing, in a sense, to what the band was founded on. ‘Cause we put out our first EP, and we just wrote those songs. Like, we never even second-guessed them! We just did it. It wasn’t like, picking apart parts… We just went for it! Each member brought to the table what they brought, and that’s what happened! So we’re trying to kind of go hands-off and kind of make that effortless, carefree thing happen once more as a band.

If it works, why change it, right?

Chase: I think for a long time, I specifically was a victim to my own thoughts and overthinking just everything. We’re trying to just let that go and really just not think about anything, and do what comes naturally. I think that will hopefully resonate with a lot of people.

We’re trying to… let go and really just not think about anything, and do what comes naturally.

COIN is playing with The 1975, Bad Suns and The Struts on select dates coming up, all of whom also recently released their second records. How do you feel about these bands and what they're doing in their second albums, as related to what COIN did for this second album?

Chase: I don’t think we’ve noticed any real correlation. This second album, for us, is a blank slate of sorts. That said, these bands we are touring with have consistently grown over time, and everything they release is even better than the previous. That’s inspiring for us. We just want to make something better than the last. That’s all we can ask for…

How have your shows been?

Chase: Really wild, actually! [Our first show was in Santa Ana, California]. We’ve never been to Santa Ana, ever; I’ve been to Orange County once as a person. It’s crazy to hear a thousand people singing along to “Talk Too Much,” a song we’ve never played there… We’ve never been there before. It was very, very cool experience.

How do you keep it from getting to your head?

Chase: Oh, I… It’s a whole new level of success every day, because, it’s like a never-ending, unfolding canyon. I say it’s a canyon, because one time I hiked the Grand Canyon with my friends. You get to the bottom and you go back up, and you think you’ve made it to the top every time, and then you see a complete new piece every single time. That’s what it always is for me: It’s truly a never-ending cycle; there’s always something new you want tomorrow. I realized that about a few months ago, when I heard that Bono was forever jealous of Joey Ramone, and I as like, okay, if Bono is jealous of anyone, I don’t think this is ever going to end for me.

I've also noticed that COIN's aesthetic is changing.

Chase: Yeah. I’m interested to see why or how you think that.

Well I literally see you going from white to color; I see in “Talk Too Much” an expansion of the band, with more melody, energy and color.

Chase: Absolutely! We have really worked hard to channel, aesthetically, what we are actually attracted to. We took a long, hard look at what we wanted for the past year when our album cycle ended. Our first album cycle ended so quickly, and we kind of stepped back and were like, What do we actually want? Are we even proud of what we’re doing? – which we are; we totally were – but we tried to, for a long time, figure out who we were. I think we’ve got – we’ve got these amazing creative directors, and we explain our vision to them and they just run with it, and do what they do. As far as the music, I think that goes back to just not overthinking anything! That’s where that energy comes from – that energy that was on our first EP [2012’s Saturdays] that was so poorly produced, recorded in one day. That energy that was put into that was literally just us! That’s what I think “Talk Too Much” is doing – you kind of hear the lack of thought and the lack of effort put into it.

And it feels very natural as a result.

Chase: Thank you, I appreciate that. We’ve very much tried to take our hands off of it.

When we first met, you described COIN as a “rock band making guitar-driven music in a world that’s totally synth-driven.” Does COIN remain that way today?

Chase: Ooh, you know for a long time, I was so scared of playing synths because of so many bands that were in this alternative, indie genre, but I’ve kind of found myself and am coming into my own as a keyboard player. That’s what I naturally play, so I’m learning to use it wisely, and not exploit it and just make pseudo-Phoenix songs or whatever. Those are some of my favorite bands, but I think sometimes people just do it because it’s low-hanging fruit, and they can make the pad sound just like it. So we are definitely still a rock band, but I’m not as afraid as I was a year ago to use synthesized elements.

Thank you for the caffeine and small talk!

Chase: [laughs] You had that one locked and loaded, didn’t you?

— —

Chasing Indie Pop Perfection: A Conversation with COIN

by Mitch Mosk

— —

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Discover more new music on Atwood’s Picks
cover photo: COIN © Zachary Gray
"Talk Too Much" single art - COIN

“Talk Too Much” single art – COIN

:: COIN 2016 Tour Dates ::

11/12 – Houston, TX – White Oak Music Hall Upstairs
11/13 – Dallas, TX – Granada
11/15 – Denver, CO – Bluebird
11/17 – Phoenix, AZ – Crescent Ballroom
11/18 – Los Angeles, CA – Teragram
11/30 – Knoxville, TN – Knoxville Civic Coliseum
12/2 – St Augustine, FL – St Augustine Amphitheatre
12/3 – Tampa, FL – 97x Next Big Thing
12/4 – Orlando, FL – Hard Rock Live
12/6 – Seattle, WA – Keyarena
12/9 – Columbus, OH – Express Live!
12/15 – Minneapolis, MN – Target Center

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com