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Boast about The Coast

September 10th, 2010 · No Comments

The Coast will be releasing their sophomore album Queen Cities Sept. 23. Courtesy Carl Heindl.

By Karen Bliss

Toronto indie rockers The Coast, who celebrate the release of its sophomore album, Queen Cities, on Sept. 23 at the El Mocambo, began life in the Annex.

Frontman Ben Spurr and guitarist Ian Fosbery were living on St. George Street at the time and called their band The July 26th Movement.

“We were about to break up,” recounts Fosbery, “and we decided, ‘Let’s give it one more try and write different music, and change our name to the Coast’ [after the Paul Simon song] because our old name sucked. It was like starting anew.”

Today, Spurr lives in Parkdale, brothers Jordan and Luke Melchiorre (drums and bass, respectively) in High Park, and Fosbery divides his time between Toronto, Etobicoke and New York.

Fosbery is looking forward to returning to the neighbourhood to play El Mocambo. “We haven’t played there in a long long time,” he says. “It will be nice to play there again. We did a charity gig there about a year and a half ago, but our own show was four or five years ago, before it was renovated.”

Back then, the Coast’s 2006 self-titled EP led to a deal with local indie Aphoria Records in late 2007. The band cut its 2008 full-length debut, Expatriate, with producer Chris Stringer—of Timber Timbre, Ohbijou, and the Wooden Sky fame—at the Lincoln County Social Club, a loft studio in Liberty Village. The album was later picked up by Afternoon Records in the U.S., and the band ended up touring throughout North America and the U.K.

Courtesy Carl Heindl

Being on the road for a year-and-a-half influenced Queen Cities, which the bio says is about “crossing borders.”  Tons of bands tour and don’t write entire albums about it, but Fosbery explains, “There was nothing else going on in our lives. It was life in a van. It’s the theme of what touring causes in life because it does put a strain on your life at home when you’re away.”

Once back in Toronto, Fosbery says they spent a long time writing and arranging the songs, then invited Stringer to the rehearsal studio to hear the new direction (before going into the Lincoln County Social Club again). “Chris is very involved in what we do and, as always, he added a lot of ideas and took away a lot of ideas from what we already built.

“It’s definitely louder and faster,” Fosbery says of the new album. “A lot of the songs on Expatriate were slower and more singer-songwriterey—well, not a lot of them, but this album is much more to the point. It’s only 9 songs long.

“Not that we don’t like making slower songs,” he adds. “There’s always talk of us doing an acoustic EP because Ben writes a lot of songs like that, that are a lot softer and wouldn’t really be served very well by loud guitars and loud drums, but I think touring a lot of times we’re playing in a room to a bunch of people who are talking and it’s pretty loud.”

So they adjust their sound to get their attention? “It’s not really an attention thing,” said Fosbery.  “It’s more of an energy thing. When you’re playing a show and things are loud, you’re really, for lack of a better term, rocking out.”

Fosbery and Spurr also play keyboards on their recordings, but onstage they use a fifth player to take care of those parts. “We often do this when we record. We record all these intricate parts and there’s so much going on at any given time that we need another pair of hands [live],” says Fosbery.

Sometimes that person is Stringer, but Fosbery isn’t sure he’ll be able to play the CD release party. “Chris has problems with his ears, tinnitus, so he’s taking a break from live music for a while.”

Maybe, if the Coast wasn’t louder and faster than ever.

Tags: Arts · General