Over the last month, I have been thrilled by my discovery of The Coasts, a two man band comprised of college buddies Ike Peters and Eric Mount. The two financed the album themselves for $400 with the help of Little Rock producer Isaac Alexander. Their work resulted in a lo-fi, low budget joy ride that I have hardly been able to put down.
The album immediately resonated with me. Peters’ vocals sound alarmingly similar to Dr. Dog lead singer Scott McMicken. However, The Coasts are much less dressed up than Dr. Dog, exchanging four part harmonies for stripped down, roots rock appeal. The first time I heard their self-titled debut, it sounded as if McMicken were singing an album of lost Black Keys covers.
Like The Keys’ Rubber Factory or The Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main St., the tight quarters and sweat drenched setting of their makeshift recording studio bleed into the music. This album is old school rock n’ roll at its finest: addictive melodies, fuzzy guitars and the occasional horn flourish.
Crack open a frosty beer, light a cigarette and give this album a spin. Quite simply, if you can’t get down with The Coasts, we probably should not hang out on the weekends. The duo has some work to do before they carve out a truly unique sound. As stated earlier, their influences are apparent at every turn. That being said, I will sacrifice originality for quality songwriting and good, old-fashioned rock n’ roll any day of the week.
Written by Rob Peoni
Members of The Coasts, Ike Peters and Eric Mount, recently sat down to answer some questions for Thought on Tracks. They are an unsigned band hailing from Little Rock, Arkansas and Lebanon, Ohio.
How many members of the band are there? How old are you? How did you meet?
IKE: Officially, we have 2 members – me (Ike Peters) and Eric Mount. We’re both 25 and we met freshmen year of college. I don’t remember the exact time we met, but I’m sure a shared love of Radiohead was involved. We roomed together with a couple of other guys and we’ve been best friends ever since.
Describe your recording process. Were you guys sending each other stuff from afar? Or did you manage to record live?
IKE: Basically, Eric came down one weekend in February and we recorded the groundwork for 12 songs. After that, me and Isaac (the producer) would add stuff here and there on the weekends or after work. I’d send the tracks-in-progress to Eric and he’d give us some feedback or ideas, and that’s just how it went.
ERIC: The songs kind of morphed from Ike’s original sound/composition and what I thought they sounded like through my Ohio-headphones, into what they eventually became.
Are you signed to any record label? How did you finance the recording?
IKE: We are not signed to any label currently. We financed it ourselves, but it only ended up costing $400 because we just lucked out on a ton of things. Other than a producer, Isaac is my boss at work. He and two other guys run an ad agency in Little Rock. ANYWAY, he had this space he rented from a guy in town where he would record his stuff and keep all of his gear. We just used that beat-up, AC-less room to record in. It was rock n roll. And Isaac did it all for free. We just had to pay the extra musicians and the mixer/masterer guy. So, we were very, very, very lucky.
Who are you major influences?
IKE: During that weekend when Eric was here, we listened to Exile on Main St. to and from the “studio.” So, as far as the record is concerned, that was probably our main inspiration. Musically, though, I’m a huge Kinks fan.
ERIC: Well, the influences for the album, I’d have to say, range somewhere between early rock ‘n roll to more modern indie rock, such as Dr. Dog, Weezer and Cake, which was kind of unplanned. But my influential staples would probably be Radiohead, Wilco and the Pixies, with more recent favorites like Midlake and Arcade Fire.
What current artists would you compare yourselves with?
IKE: I don’t know if we’d compare ourselves to anyone, but we definitely WISH we sounded like Dr. Dog or The Black Keys or someone with that throwback kind of sound. I won’t always want to be known as a “throwback” band and I doubt those bands do either, but that sound is throughout our album, so I’ll take it for now.
ERIC: I actually feel like we’ve got a pretty unique thing going on, especially with the limited time we’ve actually spent playing together. You could look at that a few different ways: either we are unrehearsed, unprofessional hacks, or we come across as a raw and original project. Hopefully the latter comes across. But, to answer your question — no one.
Could you describe any goals or objectives you hoped to accomplish with the recording?
IKE: It started out as just a fun project or just something cool we could do together. We didn’t really have any end-goal other than we’d just have something to show for our efforts. The fact that we have an album is still just a weird thought to me. But that’s what the goal was.
ERIC: Initially, my goal was just to have an album recorded that I could put my name on and be proud of. Something to show my kids one day. But now that we’ve sold some records and we’ve been encouraged by so many people, maybe this will turn into something more. Who knows.
IKE: I don’t even know if we were going to charge people for the record once it was done, but it just really hit us that weekend that we had something special. Before, they were just songs I had written and tried to record myself, so they didn’t have that magic that Eric added to it. It was such a cool feeling, so from then out, we knew we had something exciting.
Describe Isaac Alexander’s role in the recording process.
ERIC: Ike and I were relatively unfamiliar with the entire process and Isaac really sacrificed a lot of time to help us accomplish this record. Also, given the fact that he laid down the bass tracks, we were able to really let it rip in the studio and rock out with a “full” band. I think that really comes through on a few of the songs.
IKE: Isaac made the album what it is, pretty much. Without him, it would’ve been pretty gross. In fact, it probably wouldn’t even be. Since Isaac was much more experienced in music, having put out a few albums himself and with other bands in Little Rock, we knew he’d really give us some direction. And he did. He sacrificed a lot of time and energy on this, and he deserves most of the credit for it.
What was the inspiration behind the decision to donate part of the album’s proceeds to Haiti?
ERIC: Last winter, my wife, Nicole, and I went on a medical mission trip to Haiti with Hope for Haiti’s Children. We had already been sponsoring a child at the orphanage, Stanley, and we were able to see him and approximately 900 other kids. We, along with the rest of our group, were able to provide medical care to them. When we came back we told Ike and Alexis (Ike’s wife) about it and they are now sponsoring a child, too, named Stephanie. An important part of Ike and I and our families’ faith is giving back part of what you’ve been blessed with. And we felt this opportunity was no different.
What is the music scene like in Little Rock?
IKE: See, this is where my naivety comes out. I only have a general view of the Little Rock scene, so I’d be afraid to give it any kind of label. I would say that it’s pretty diverse. It’s no Austin or Nashville, of course, but it’s got some really great bands that have worked harder than we have, for sure. We haven’t even played a show yet. So, short answer: not sure yet.
What is the music scene like in Dayton?
ERIC: Where I live there’s no real “scene”. I think people just listen to what’s on the radio for the most part. My favorite band to come out of the area is probably The National, from Dayton and further east in Akron, the Black Keys. I think the Breeders are from Dayton, too.
Describe some of the drawbacks and benefits from this long distance relationship.
IKE: The drawbacks are that the process was much slower. We’d email back and forth about tracks, whereas it could’ve been quicker if he were here or we were all there. Plus, it was weird not having Eric there when me and Isaac would work on it. It wasn’t the same, and though we’re really happy with the outcome, I bet it would’ve been better if we all lived in the same place. Plus, we could be playing shows, too. It looks like I’m going to have to find a substitute for the time being. The benefit, though, was that we were extremely focused when Eric was here. Since Eric hadn’t touched a drumset in 3 years, I thought it was going to have to be more than a weekend. But he just banged it out and we got a shocking amount of work done. If we had lived in the same place, I bet we would’ve goofed off a lot more and wasted more of people’s time.
ERIC: Yeah, like Ike said, the benefit was that we didn’t have the opportunity to “overdo” the album. I like the relatively raw sound we got, and we didn’t overdub much of anything. If we had more time, we may have tinkered with it to where it didn’t sound quite that way. Drawbacks: Not getting to play new music or just hang out.
What has the response to the record been like?
IKE: The response has greatly surpassed any expectations we had. I honestly thought when we put it on sale that our friends and family would buy copies, and that’d be it. Which would’ve been fine. I think our money goal was that each of us would be able to buy a Hot N Ready pizza from Little Caesar’s. We just wanted to be realistic and not get our hopes up. But thanks to Paper Garden Records and several music blogs, the word got out and people have been really positive and supportive. Since we’ve released it, we’ve been getting emails from all over the place, so it’s just crazytown. It’s exciting, but yeah, not what we expected at all.
What are the plans for the future?
IKE: Right now, I’m writing some more songs and trying to put together a live show with some guys in town, at the same time continue being married and work hard at my job. I just made that sound stressful, but it really isn’t. It’s a lot of fun.
ERIC: I think we’ll record a second record for sure.
What advice would you give other up and coming artists?
IKE: No excuses. If you want to do it, then make the time and do it. We’re still in no position to give any kind of advice, but that’s what we try to tell ourselves.