17 Oct 2021 - Pat O'
There are a few people on the web who hunt for every single version of Coastlands’ latest record Death and we simply cannot call these guys crazy for the record is one of the most interesting in the Post-Rock realm of the last few years. Therefore we are extremely excited to be able to give you a long, in-depth interview with the band. We spoke about their experience in Europe, their way of dealing with “death” and of course when we can expect new striking tunes, so the nerds of this world have a new release to rave about and happily hunt down every version of it!
A few weeks ago, our very own Post-Rock connaisseur Pat sat down with Coastlands and had this long interview talking about the way that death seeped into the recording of Death, their new line-up and the mutual respect and friendship they have for Ranges and Pillars.
So, let’s start with the most recent release Death which blew everyone away when it came out towards the end of 2020. Did you guys feel that you had something special with this album before it ever got to be heard?
Jason First off, thank you so much for listening to Death. After such a wild year it felt really good to hear how everyone was enjoying our record and really brought all of us some light. We definitely felt we had something special, to us, while we were recording. We shared very little with anyone outside the band but all couldn’t stop talking about the songs and how much we were all madly in love with them. We for sure felt like we had made something that was a true expression of where we were all at.
The Dunk! experience you had in Europe back in 2019 must have been phenomenal for you. Did that experience of playing with so many different “Post” bands rub off on Death? Did that weekend influence your sound? And if so, in which way?
Dunk! 2019 was absolutely unreal. It was one of those experiences that while you’re in it, you can feel yourself already beginning to mourn having to leave. There is no festival like it. I can’t say that it directly influenced us, however, I can say that it helped us shape how we wanted things to feel in terms of the production. Watching bands perform shows so much personality and we went into the studio with the goal of making something that was an accurate reflection of ourselves both on stage and off.
You shared that Dunk weekend with other fellow American bands such as Ranges and Pillars. Did you all know each other before heading to Europe?
Yes, we both knew each other from touring and the post scene. They’re some of the kindest gems in our community.
Did that make the journey all the sweeter?
It absolutely did. Getting to see the Ranges guys in Belgium made it feel like home and getting to tour Europe for the first time with Pillars was a special experience.
So, to the bigger topic now: Do you guys fear death? Is it something that can keep you awake at night or is it a topic you can easily face head on?
Throughout the process of writing this record I wrestled with a lot of feelings surrounding the topic. For me, I don’t fear death anymore than I fear life at its beginning. It’s all part of something that we don’t understand and will never fully understand, no matter what you believe, no one can say with 100% certainty what happens on either end. It almost feels comforting to know that your life is happening right here, right now and it’s up to you and your perception to determine how you’ll spend it. All things end and life is truly too surreal to go on forever. We all get a glimpse and thats something precious and oftentimes overwhelming.
Death can be seen as a finale of life in general or as a finale of one chapter of life – which idea would you prefer?
I prefer the idea of a finale to a chapter of life but also feel comfort in it being the finale to life, if that is the case. If when we die, that’s it, then so be it. I don’t know anymore than when I didn’t know before I existed. It all feels hopeful and inspiring.
Is the fear of death, to you, the most human thing of all? The one thing that unites us all?
I wouldn’t say that fear of death is the most human thing that connects and unites us, perhaps at one or two stages of life, but if you spend your life fearing something that is unknown, then what was the point of life? I’d say the fact that we all die is what unites us. We all are born, eat, sleep and die. At our most basic core, we are all one.
Now your connection to “death”: Why did you choose the word as the album title?
Our new album is called Death and it was a concept we had been toying around with writing for a number of years. We began writing the record when we had returned from our first european tour in 2019 to play Dunk! Fest with Alcest, Bossk and many other incredible bands. Two weeks before this tour, our original drummer decided to leave on the band and the tour. We had been preparing for the tour for almost six months and this turned us fully on our heads. Luckily our friend Trent ( now a full-time member) was able to step in and fill the void, learn our set and embark on our first European tour with us. We (Jordan and Jason) felt as if, when we left for that tour, the band we used to be was gone and dead, whatever we were to become started on that tour. Death didn’t mean the end, it meant a new beginning for the band and its members. Upon returning we began to flesh out themes we had all been writing with and the common themes were Death, Loss, Grief; however the majority of the death-centric themes were more metaphorical and rooted in bigger ideas. All of us had been doing a lot of personal work over the past few years to overcome past trauma, unaddressed grief and coming to terms with the fragility of life. We decided to create an album based around the different facets of death, both metaphorically and physically. Loss of friends, family, loved ones,relationships, loss of ideals, ego death, friendships, marriages, bandmates and how all of those elements play into a larger story to help give life meaning and purpose. You have to let things go in order to make necessary space to allow for growth. We had to let go of the band we used to be and learn to live parallel to the pain and allow it to ignite change at its own pace, living with a double frame of mind. Our LP is fully focused on the sadness of death and loss, it’s also about the catharsis, triumph, yearning, heartbreak, release, anger, excitement, anxient, mystery and mourning when you finally accept Death. We appreciate light the most as we emerge from darkness and are consumed with light. Death, in its purest form, is about being present in your existential isolation.
How much “Death” surrounded the band while writing the record? Did your personal lives seep into the music?
Absolutely. Death, in it’s many forms, surrounded the band from its inception and particularly when we began writing. Death of friends, co-workers, Death of relationships/friendships, Death of ideals/egos, and Death of the band as it had been since the start.
The album is incredibly heavy and emotive, with huge melodies and melancholic hooks. Did the music and the sound manifest itself organically, or was the writing process more structured?
Somewhat both, the sound absolutely showed itself through hours and months of playing and experimenting. However, once we got a couple ideas down, we began to further analyze and structure out the songs to what you hear today! It really shaped up fairly naturally. The majority of it was written long distance, since Trent lives in Seattle, and was shaped with drums and guitar. When Andy joined, we gave him the tracks and with little to no direction, he just felt things out and further shaped the record from his perspective. We’ve never done a record like this and pretty much prepared us for how we would continue to write during 2020-now.
Did you see something like life’s cynicism that during the time of the release of your record the world was (and is still) facing a deathly virus?
We talked about that so much with this record. It was intended to be released in the spring with a couple tours both in US and EU to follow. It then got pushed further into 2020. We had intended to name the record Death fairly early on and finished the record in 2019 and it was fully ready in January 2020. The quote “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life” felt very true for us ha!
Do you think that the last American administration took the necessary steps to prevent the spread of the disease?
Absolutely not even in the slightest. Any attempts were merely surface level and ultimately set everything back ages. Even without Covid, that whole administration should be ashamed on all accounts.
Covid has decimated the live music scene, but hopefully things will get back to some kind of normality soon. Is it the stage where you guys feel most at home? What emotions flow though your bones when you’re up there pouring out your music?
Yes, performing is something special. It’s pure presence. I’m fully in the moment while also feeling outside of time. There is nothing better than playing live and I ache for it. We’ve never performed any song from Death live yet and it gives me the shakes to think of how my cells will explode during the next time we play.
Can you give us the concept behind the artwork of the Death album, because it is quite an iconic one?
I appreciate you saying it’s iconic, you are too kind! The whole concept is based around how physical spaces change once you remove life. Which, again, unintentionally ties in with last year, 2020. I remember thinking about it all when walking around our city mid-pandemic and seeing the places that once were teeming with life, just empty and lifeless. The back cover photo is of the room we wrote Death in on the day I moved out of that apartment. The sun hit it in such a particular way that was always mesmerizing. However, I had never seen it in that particular way. Once I had removed myself and my life from that space, it was just a room that had its own beauty. The cover photo is of my bed and I thought of the concept one night while my wife was traveling and I was thinking about how the room itself felt different just because it was missing half of its energy. Both photos were taken in the same apartment in North Portland.
Your discography goes right back to 2011, but would you agree that the release of To Be Found was a game-changer and that people then really stood up and paid attention to Coastlands?
I’m not sure about a game changer, perhaps for us it was? It definitely was the release that brought us into the fold. It was our first release as a full band, and with Dunk! records. It opened up some really cool avenues. We had no idea what we were doing at that time, not to say we know 100% now, but I remember the level of uncertainty we had when going into the studio. We did that record nearly 100% live and it was recorded over the course of a weekend. All releases prior to 2016’s To Be Found were mostly solo albums with other musicians accompanying.
You guys have released quite a few variants of Death (It’s hard to keep up!): Is vinyl important to you all?
“Death comes in many forms” and I think its Vinyl is definitely important, I love the medium simply for its tactile nature and yeah of course it sounds good too! It’s also cool to have a collection of records I made to show my daughter when she’s older. Hopefully, it’ll help frame some of my personality and show her a side that will allow her to even further understand who I am/where I came from.
Do you think it still has a place in the age of digital music, or is it just a reoccurring trend that will fade out again?
I believe it does, it’s a different experience. Two sides of the same coin. I’m an audio engineer and while I use a lot of plugins and software, nothing beats the experience of actually playing an instrument or messing with something physical to spark inspiration. Plus vinyl covers and inserts are my favorite part.
A lot of “post” bands have been dabbling with vocals and vocalists recently whether it’s a band member or a guest singer. Is that something that Coastlands have ever thought about doing?
It’s never been off the table, we’ve always had vocal elements in our music, however, generally buried or drenched in FX. We pretty much just try out everything that we feel led us to try out and if it sounds sick, we go with it. It’s a simple metric for us, if we all agree it’s good, then it doesn’t matter if it’s vocals or some other previously unincorporated element. So who knows what the future holds?
Have you started work on the next album yet and if so, can you give us any indication on what direction it’s going to take?
We pretty much didn’t take a break from writing and a few of the songs for the next one will likely be reworked B-Sides from Death. The direction is still a little uncertain, but it’ll be different. We try to not do the same album twice and instead use the last record as a launching off point, or a foundation for how we want to approach the next one. I can tell you, it’ll be different but recognizable.
You have already had that Dunk! experience: What is a dream that is still unfulfilled for your band?
To go to Japan and Australia, play Roadburn or any of the other incredible festivals with bands we want to be friends with.
Now I know you guys like a bit of fun from the “fill the captions” thing you occasionally do on your Facebook page, so for some more fun, I will throw a few rapid fire questions at you, and please choose one, with a very brief explanation if you like!
Burial or Cremation? Personally, cremation for when I go. Though I do love the idea of burial and I am fascinated by graveyards.
Travel by boat or plane? Planes, I don’t feel comfortable on boats.
Jazz or Country? Country, all day over Jazz. I can appreciate Jazz but I grew up in a town of 600 people in rural Oregon and am a hillbilly at heart.
Burger or Burrito? Burrito. It’s the perfect food.
Beer or Whiskey? Beer, generally a sour beer or anything from Cantillon brewery in Belgium.
Main stage at Hellfest or Carnegie Hall? Hellfest, that energy of that environment would feed me for years.
Breath under water or fly? As much as I’m very curious about the ocean, there are too many creatures that would consider me a snack. Fly!
Collaboration with God Is An Astronaut or Long Distance Calling? This is tough! Tremendous respect for both bands and I draw inspiration from both of their playing. but I suppose I’d have to say God Is An Astronaut?
Facebook or Instagram? Aren’t they the same thing? Instagram for sure, I never use Facebook and have no interest in it. I love TikTok ha!
The Statue of Liberty or the Eiffel Tower? Eiffel tower.
Thanks for taking the time to go through these questions and I hope you found them some bit interesting! Regards
Thank you guys so much!!