A “Simple Romance”: Zooming in on the Right Now with COIN

COIN © David O'Donohue
COIN’s commitment to investigating apprehension about the future takes on a sense of eagerness for tomorrow in “Simple Romance.”

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I can’t relax. I just can’t. I’ve tried to find new hobbies and it just ends up back with more COIN.

Chase Lawrence is still doing his best not to overthink it. Over the past six years, his band COIN have found their place in the alt rock scene, but that doesn’t mean they want to stay there forever. “Simple Romance” (out 10/12/2018 via Columbia Records), their first release of 2018, takes the signature COIN sound to new heights, both vocally and sonically. If this song is any indication of what we’ll get from their third album (due out early next year), it’s definitely going to be a departure from what we’ve come to expect from COIN.

Simple Romance - COIN

Simple Romance – COIN

Heartless princess
Effortless
You’ve got a touch in your hand
Second guess
I guess I’m complex
So Thoughtless
It’s what you do to me

Lawrence notes that this album is, in some ways, a continuance of grappling with anxiety about the future. However, it’s much more about that feeling’s role in the present. This may be due in part to the fact that COIN, and specifically Lawrence, took over a lot of the production on the forthcoming album. Always looking for a way to push the limits, he describes taking over all of the aspects of piecing together the album as terrifying.

Scream until I’m blue
Yeah I’m losing my edge
Then she’s air in my chest
What ya got in your hand?
Drag my feet to bed
While you’re living your best
Now I’m kind of a mess
It’s what you do to me

In “Simple Romance,” we get an idea of the small, tight sounds Lawrence has been trying out. Transitioning away from production crutches has been no easy feat for him, but there’s no doubt it’s worth it. “Simple Romance” serves as both a catalyst and a bridge between COIN’s two previous studio albums and where they’re headed now.

Atwood Magazine was lucky enough to talk to Chase Lawrence about “Simple Romance,” how things have changed, and what makes COIN so uniquely COIN.

We wanted so badly to do something different and make a song that was just gonna pull us out of what we were before.

You can try to simplify romance
Reduce it to a touch
But maybe we’re in love
You can try to simplify romance
Call it odd attraction
Pulling like a magnet
:: stream/purchase “Simple Romance” here ::
Stream: “Simple Romance” – COIN

A CONVERSATION WITH COIN

Atwood Magazine: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me, I know you’ve had a lot of good conversations with Atwood in the past.

Chase: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me I appreciate it.

So I know you guys are wrapping up a mini tour right now, how’s that going?

Chase: It’s good, it was just three days in Asia, we just played the Philippines and now we’re going to start like five shows in the US next week. Then we’re going to do some radio promos, but that’s pretty much it until 2019, which will be a full headlining tour and then back to Asia and Europe again. I had to go over that schedule myself, my manager just told us this morning.

Yeah that’s crazy. I know your next few dates in the US are with Arlie, I’m newly a really big fan of them, what about them drew you in?

Chase Lawrence: So Nate Banks is the lead singer of Arlie, and we met him around when we had just started COIN. Nate came through at a demo session, he was friends with one of our other friends from school, and ending up doing a demo of a song then. We had kind of kept in touch but not really, and they kept getting cooler and cooler and playing better and better music, and we’ve been big fans since “Big Fat Mouth” came out.

Yeah that’s an awesome song.

Chase: It’s a good song.

So we last heard from you in February about How Will You Know If You Never Try, how does your upcoming album build on that?

Chase: Thematically it’s less existential from a legacy perspective, but there are still some elements of that, I think there always will be. I was talking to myself throughout that whole album, and I still have anxiety about the future, but now I feel like this new album is about excitement in a totally different way. Instead of thinking about like 50 years from now, I’m like oh my god what’s gonna happen tomorrow?

I’ve been in a relationship for a long time, and it’s almost like we should’ve broken up several times? Like, we shouldn’t have, but thematically this album is about my relationship, and my relationship with my goals, and my romantic relationship and the uncertainty of tomorrow. So less of my existential anxiety and more of like, what am I doing with my life right now?

That’s awesome!

Chase: So much more of it is about my approach and much more zoomed into the right now.

I know you said in the past you write a lot of songs and song fragments and then sit on them for a while until they find their place on an album. Is that still your process?

Chase: No! Until the day the album gets released they’re going to keep changing over and over, but from what I understand the album to be right now, all the songs were written in like a three month period. So it’s almost like a time capsule of where I was, and really where I still am – because those songs are still my mantra right now. So yeah, I think I’ve exhausted my back catalogue and this is all what we’ve done in the past year, which is far more terrifying.

COIN © David O'Donohue

COIN © David O’Donohue

It is daunting. Can you talk a little more about “Simple Romance”? I personally love it and think it sounds really different from anything you’ve done in the past, but what specifically inspired that song?

Chase: Well we had just finished our tour, and our drummer’s roommate had moved out and so he had just put up this poster of a bullseye and then started fooling around in GarageBand and just sent me this thing that was like “you can try to simplify” and that’s it. And maybe he added the “romance” later, but he just sent me that. And then I advanced on it and it was super different sounding, it almost sounded like 90s R&B or doo-wop. So I tweaked it a bit, which took a few days, and was like ok that sounds cool, made it a little more upbeat, then decided to keep the tempo as is.

I think it came out of necessity; we wanted so badly to do something different and make a song that was just gonna pull us out of what we were before. And it really served as that: A lot of the album is different from what we’ve done in the past, but it’s still uniquely COIN. I think that song served as a catalyst to move us away. It helped us establish the fact that we’re moving past what was day one. Even though it’s maybe not the most essential to the album or the most representative of the album, it was such a shape shifting moment. After we changed “Simple Romance” over and over we took it to the studio to do a demo and then we sent it to our friend Mark Foster. He was like “okay guys I have an idea” and just changed like two lines and then was like “I think it’s done.” We kept everything from like the GarageBand to the demo and just tried our best not to overthink it. That’s what it came out of, like this weird collaborative, which was really good. You can actually hear each of the band members voices, like the drummer’s voice, the guitarist’s voice; and the guitar part’s so loud and so simple. That’s so atypical for us also, in the past we may have leaned on really big bounds and wall of sound things, the typical COIN tricks, but we tried to let it all out and start from square one. I think it really was the first stepping stone to this album because the whole album is small tight sounds, whereas in the past we’ve gone so wide.

We wanted so badly to do something different and make a song that was just gonna pull us out of what we were before.

You said in the beginning that was the drummer who put up the bullseye?

Chase: Yeah the drummer came up with the first two lines of the chorus and just sent it to me. I think also again it was something we all contributed to equally, which we hadn’t done in a long time. That actually became the norm on this album, which was bizarre and made me kind of lose my mind? But I think it created something so special and so strange because of that.

There was a pretty big difference in your vocals, even compared to “Growing Pains,” do you think we’re gonna hear more that sounds like “Simple Romance,” or is it going to be a whole variety of things on the new album?

Chase: In the vocals or the production?

The vocals specifically.

Chase: You know what, kinda. It’s all pretty similar, they’re all very dry. The vocals are very in your face and very singular. There are a couple songs that are kind of springy but I always kind of leaned on flatback or delays or reverb, because I was insecure or something, but I think I’m just like done with it. If I’m gonna be open and honest I need to make it as real as possible. That’s another reason why it’s terrifying, this whole thing has been so strange for me because we’ve worked so hands on. In the past we’ve worked with producers and we go back and forth and sculpt it together, and this time I took it to the finish line. That was really really trying for me actually. I think I felt the weight, like if this doesn’t totally connect it might be my fault, you know? I think it’ll work out great, hopefully it’ll be a big moment in my life where I realize I can do it myself. I’ve been using producers in the past as possible a crutch for not knowing what to do.

I felt the weight, like if this doesn’t totally connect it might be my fault, you know?

So it sounds like that’s a great thing to work towards, how do you guys continue to challenge yourselves since you’re putting out music so often and so quickly?

Chase: I think this time it was all about doing it ourselves. That was a big experience for me, personally. I don’t think it affected the band as much as it did me, because I really pushed it this time. I was attacking it from all angles with the mixing and the mastering like really touching every bit of it i could. I don’t know if I’ll do it again in the same capacity, I think that was very challenging for me, but I’m sure we’ll find a new way to torture myself on the next one.

I was looking through the interviews from a few years ago and you talked a lot about that feeling you get when you were surprised to see so many fans knowing the words to your songs, do you still get that rush even now?

Chase: Oh yes. If you ever see me in a photo and I don’t have two in-ears in it’s because I’m the happiest person on earth. I’m listening to the crowd. I know a lot of people who only wear one in-ear because it’s functional, so they can keep on pitch or something, nah. I’m wearing one so I can hear the crowd sing louder than me. That is the only reason. I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone that. I think I’m telling myself for the first time right now actually.

That’s awesome. With you guys it seems like you’ve been around for so much longer than the few years you have, because you’re always putting out music or on tour. Do you have plans to relax at all after this album, or will it just keep going?

Chase: I can’t relax. I just can’t. I’ve tried to find new hobbies and it just ends up back with more COIN. I think that I’m excited to see what happens with this new music. Just like with the album I’m not trying to look ahead too much and just take it one day at a time. I think I’m not gonna stop anytime soon and I don’t think any of us plan on it. We’ve kind of toured strategically? Like some people stay out 300 days a year, but we pick like 30 cities we want to hit and we’ll do that rather than stay out 7 months and go everywhere. So we haven’t totally worn ourselves out yet. But actually, you know what’s strange? Waiting and like being home after tour is somehow more exhausting than being on tour. So i don’t know.

Do you guys write while you’re on tour or do you try to break it up into like tour-mode, writing-mode?

Chase: This album all started on tour last year. Kind of around the same time we were finishing “Growing Pains,” this whole batch of songs came out all at once. They got finished over time but they all had their beginnings on the fall tour last year. It was a great tour but it was a little bizarre, we played a lot of smaller cities and places we had never been before, which was great, but I think that it really made me hungry for something more. Hopefully people can hear that in the music.

So my last question is, if you could work with any musician that’s out right now who would it be?

Chase: Oh man that’s really tough. I think all of us collectively as a band love The Cars and our love for them continues to grow as we get older especially. So we all would love to work with Ric Ocasek, the lead singer of The Cars. We just realized why our 14 year old selves loved that so much. He’s not really like a relevant musician but he’s still living and if you’re reading this Ric… we’d love a collaboration.

Okay well, thank you so much! I hope to see you guys in Boston at some point.

Chase: Yeah – I think we might be coming there next year. If not, maybe New York!

This time it was all about doing it ourselves.

Stream: “Simple Romance” – COIN

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:: stream/purchase “Simple Romance” here ::

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Simple Romance - COIN

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