There’s an inviting camaraderie surrounding the Nashville foursome COIN that epitomizes a band truly coming into its own. But it’s on their hi-powered new sophomore album, How Will You Know If You Never Try, where they’re most blissfully in tune with the moment.
Singled out by Amazon as their Breakthrough Artist of 2017, with Time Magazine including them in their list of 21 Musicians We Want To Hear From this year, the group reached outside the bounds and collectively inward to create a gleaming follow-up to their acclaimed 2016 self-titled Columbia Records debut .
Enlisting energetic producers Tim Pagnotta (Walk The Moon, St. Lucia) and Andrew Maury (The Kooks, Lewis Del Mar), on the 11-track album, band members Chase Lawrence (vocals, keys), Joe Memmel (guitar, vocals), Ryan Winnen (drums), and Zach Dyke (bass), also co-produce many of the tracks. Songs include last year’s infectious lead-off track, “Talk Too Much,” which became a Top 10 Alternative radio smash, “I Don’t Wanna Dance,” and the raucous “Feeling.” COIN also collaborated with other songwriters for the first time (Chase and Zach went on an experimental 3-month L.A. creative bender prior to the album’s production), hailing the new album as the most natural and communicative effort of their 5 year career. Other standout tracks on the album are the wistful “Hannah,” the percolating “Heart Eyes,” (complete with change-of-pace piano outro), “Are We Alone,” which builds into a rapturous crescendo, and the album’s closer, “Malibu 1992,” purposefully reconfigured from a past EP and completely self-produced by the band.
With last summer’s hit “Talk Too Much” raising anticipation for the new album (it reached the #6 spot overall on Alt Nation’s Year End Countdown, with online tastemaker Idolator calling it “insanely catchy”) Chase says the band was up to the challenge. “We’re all inspired by different things, but this time we made an album very specific to what we’ve been through in the past year.”
It was a combination of “following our intuition,” says Ryan, and “not getting caught up in anything that wasn’t important to us as a band.” There’s something reassuringly ‘work-a-day’ about COIN. In an era where artists’ all-too-often pander to digital data to find their compass – COIN has steadily gained a seat at the table by practicing the time-proven rite of earning it. “It’s easy to get caught up in comparing yourselves to others all the time and get discouraged,” says Ryan. “We learned to stop doing that and embrace what we’re about. We’ve worked hard to get here and learned as we went.”
Chase describes the journey as “taking our growth song by song, city by city,” citing the non-stop regimen of touring and real fan encounters as crucial bonding tools not always detectable by social media algorithms. “The effort you put in you receive in return. It’s taken us three years to get to a sound that is uniquely us.”
It’s a process that has garnered them a loyal following and a reciprocity with their fans (and with each other) that organically carried over to the making of How Will You Know If You Never Try.
“Every band starts out on impulse but it has to grow into a conversation,” says Ryan.”
“And have a purpose,” says Joe. “It’s fun to make music but you have to work towards something together to keep that passion alive.” Zach elaborates: “When we met in 2012 the band kind of fell into everyone’s lap. After 5 shows we were rolling. But it takes time to find those real strengths in each other, and maybe most importantly the weaknesses that enable you to rely on each other’s instincts and put it all together like we feel we did on this album.”
Never over-confident, COIN’s contagious exuberance braces every track. They’ve played together long enough to nimbly augment Chase’s alluring vocal delivery, making songs like “Heart Eyes” and the Prince-ish “Boyfriend” cling to your brain from first listen. There’s even a hidden track they recorded alone in a cabin in North Carolina as a kind of coda to the joy they felt making the new record. The band also cites the rockier edge of “Feeling” as an important departure for them, setting the adventurous tone for the entire effort. Hailed by one reviewer as ‘COIN proving they have many different sides to them while still maintaining that unique spark…’ the original rough-track for “Feeling” was sent to Chase by Ryan when the lead-singer was vacationing in Hawaii. “It was voice memo from Ryan using garage band, which even he’d admit he was kind of new at. It was raw, just the chorus but I was blown away. I could hear a great song in there.” Joe picks up the story. “Chase sent it to me and I had the same reaction, I was like whoa. I knew we had to pursue it.” What made the song truly unique was Ryan’s unvarnished technique. Chase and Joe studied musical theory together at Nashville’s Belmont University, but Ryan had no such training. “It was so refreshing,” says Chase. “His brain made him escape the structure of all that, of what we were used to and made us re-think our whole approach to songwriting on this album.”
The band also welcomed the two distinct styles of producers Tim Pagnotta and Andrew Maury as part of their sonic adventurism. “The songs we did with Tim in L.A. were definitely brighter, more California sounding,” says Zach; tracks such as “Don’t Cry, 2020,” “Boyfriend,” “Talk Too Much,” and “Feeling.” “The ones we did with Andrew in New York were a bit edgier.” They include “Hannah,” “I Don’t Wanna Dance,” “Are We Alone,” “Heart Eyes,” “Lately II,” and “Miranda Beach,” with the latter 4 songs co-produced by the band.
Ryan points out that even with two different producers, the ‘feel’ of the album captured “the nature of some of our earliest work in a lot of ways. We may have fought our own gut-instincts more on our debut album. On this one we trusted ourselves more.”
The foundation of COIN begins with that trust and their early Belmont University roots back in Nashville. Chase and Joe first met there, attending music theory class and writing songs together in 2012. Ryan and Zach had individually moved to Nashville to pursue music careers and were soon introduced to Chase and Joe. The group clicked, and released four songs on the internet, playing live shows around Nashville and attracting an enthusiastic following, releasing two EPs in 2012 and 2013.
They would eventually tour non-stop with acts such as Walk The Moon, Passion Pit, Young the Giant, Neon Trees and others, perfecting their sound and their charismatic live appeal. Billboard hailed them as ‘new wave crash-course survivors,’ destined ‘to break the Nashville mold.’ SPIN, NYLON and Stereogum praised them as up-and-comers to watch, as their 2015 breakthrough hit “Run” became a heavy rotation pillar on Sirius XM radio’s Alt nation. Snapchat included them in their ‘Best Of The Year’ artists’ list and The Atlantic cited them as one of their 21 bands to check out. The group also became Festival favorites.
Their acclaimed self-titled debut album was released in the summer of 2015, produced by Grammy nominated producer Jay Joyce (Cage The Elephant, Sleeper Agent), establishing them as a unique band that was here to stay. SPIN described them as ’Dream-pop joy…’ and the overwhelming reaction to their summer 2016 hit “Talk Too Much,” (which Chase describes as a song about his “inability to leave things unsaid,”) perfectly teed up the new album, How Will You Know If You Never Try, and subsequent album teasers “I Don’t Wanna Dance,” “Malibu 1992,” and “Feeling.”
Chase explains why they included a slightly revamped version of “Malibu 1992” on the new album. “It just proves everything comes full circle,” he says. “I was sitting in a DC airport and it came on shuffle on my phone and I just started to cry. I don’t know, it was like I had myself more figured out four years go then I did when it hit me like that. The song seemed so direct and spoke to me in a way it never did before, I knew we had to remix it and put it on the album. “It’s like the more you learn the less you know,” says Zach.
As for the atmospheric song “Hannah,” which contains the enigmatic title phrase in the lyric, Chase also reached back for inspiration. “That song and ‘Are We Alone’ get a great live crowd reaction,” he says. “I wrote ‘Hannah’ about a beautiful girl I knew in middle school who I always thought could do anything she wanted to. I happened to run into her years later and she was still stuck in my hometown. It kind of broke my heart I guess.”
Extremely conscious of those crucial turning points that mark their own journey, the band vividly remembers the first time they walked into the Columbia Record offices in New York, amazed that they were standing on the carpet with that famous Columbia logo. “I had just been sleeping on someone’s couch the night before after a gig,” says Chase. “I’ll never forget that moment. It’s not that you think you ‘made it,’ but that you can’t believe you got that far on your own.” In the midst of their first headlining tour, Ryan says the key to COIN’s future is to always remind each other to “never fit the mold.” The band unanimously agrees. “We just have to listen to each other and remember to always serve the songs,” he says. “If you do that, you will always make sure that each part fits the puzzle so much better.”
w/ Special Guest joan