Newcastle based band Coma Lies are on the verge of unleashing their debut album "The Great Western Basin". The band’s bass player Russ was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.
Start off by stating your name, what you play in the band and favourite type of burger?
Hi, my name is Russ, I slappa tha bass mon, I have the best beard and organise the band’s raffles, movie nights and my Mum takes our photos. Seriously. My favourite burger would be Natural Tucker’s Veggie Burger on Darby St. Try it. Trust me.
How would you describe the band’s sound to someone who has never heard you before?
I wouldn’t, I’d just say, "you gotta hear this". But if they insisted, I’d say, "heavy, energetic, sporadic and awesome".
Coma Lies has undergone some fairly drastic line up changes over the last few years, how has this affected the band musically?
Ahhh, well musically, the band is driven by Mitta (drums) and Andy (guitar). They’ll bring an idea to practice where Josh, the other guitarist then builds on this and then I get told what to play. We all have different music tastes so the song gets pulled and pushed in a few different directions before it’s finished. There’s metal, hardcore, pop, punk and ambient influences now so it’s great. Our ex vocalist did have some input into the way the songs went, but our new frontman, Reece, is also bringing his own ideas to the table. So in a way it’s just made the writing process more fresh and exciting. Like a virgin.
Late last year the band parted ways with former singer Liam. What was the reasoning behind this?
Ahhh, well, the band decided to record with Steve Evetts in like, June 2008. I joined the band and they told me about it in September that year. So I think we started recording with him in California in May 2009. In this time frame Liam still hadn’t fully prepared his vocals or lyrics, or even spent much time rehearsing with us. So we had this awesome sounding album with no vocals, so the call was made to fly Steve to our studio in Newcastle to finish them there. Not cheap. Steve spent 10 days locked in the studio with Liam and they still didn’t finish the 8.5 songs worth of vocals. We were left with the task of completing them, and by November 2009, the vocals still weren’t done. So basically, by our thinking, this was unacceptable. I’m not talking shit on Liam, he helped me into the band and was a great dude to me, this is just what happened. It became apparent after our last show with him, he just didn’t care anymore. And so we sat down, spoke about it, and he left.
Shortly after you announced that Reece Moon had joined the band on vocals. How did this fall into place?
Broken Glass Online to the rescue. I posted something up there, Reece replied, he tried out, we loved him, made group sex with him and he was in. Simple as that.
Are you happy with the way everything with Reece has turned out?
Reece has honestly been a heaven-sent angel. A big, buff, Adonis looking angel. He sounds incredible on the album, his vocals are more than an instrument, they compliment the music perfectly. He sounds and looks good on stage, which is more important than most bands seem to realise. He’s also just an all round nice dude. Actually, come to think of it, I fuckin’ hate the guy.
The band recorded their debut album “The Great Western Basin” in California in May last year with Steve Evetts (Every Time I Die, Poison The Well, Lifetime). What was it like recording the album with Steve?
Life-threatening. So very daunting. I was shitting bricks. I’d been in the band for about 8 months I think, which should’ve been enough time to get used to the idea. But when you’re sitting at a cafe in Long Beach with him for the first time, and he’s going over the recording process, it’s quite nerve racking. We were all sweating balls. It was so good though, by the end of the process Steve became a really good mate and we still keep in touch.
How did the band decide to record with Steve?
Just the records he’s done and the sound that he produces. His process is so precise it’s almost unbelievable. No triggers, no cut and paste. He makes records. The album sounds massive and we couldn’t be happier with the decision to go with Steve.
Did the band feel any kind of pressure recording with him considering the amount of great albums he has recorded over time?
Nah, none at all. We were actually worried about him, and wether or not he could fathom our level of talent and skill, not to mention our good looks, and if he’d feel self conscious when we all went out together.
Ahem, that’s all bullshit, the pressure nearly crushed our faces off. Did you know Steve Evetts is an amazing bass player, and he recorded bass on ETID’s The Big Dirty? Nope, either did I, until he told me, in the studio, when I was about to record. He’s done all of our favourite bands, we were very humbled to be there and meet members of Dillinger and ETID.
Can you tell us a bit about the writing and recording process of the album?
Long. Tedious. Dedicated. We spent hours upon hours each week with those songs. I guarantee Andy and Mitta lost sleep over the riffs and parts of each song. The songs were written and then demo’d in our studio, and then Mitta and Andy took them to Steve with the time signatures and we went from there. There was alot of re-writing and idea throwing in the studio, Steve didn’t actually have too much changes to make, if any. All in all I think the songs were written over that 12 month period.
Why has the band decided to release the album yourselves?
We put all of our own money into the album, and while we would’ve preferred help from a label (we sent a few emails to labels we want, here and overseas – no luck) we just want to see this through ourselves. It’s kind of disheartening (and I’m not talking shit on ANY labels, the one’s we’ve been talking to have helped us out as best they could) when you do something like this, spend all this time and money on something that you know sounds great, and then some new kids on the block grab an international support or get signed on a 3 track demo they recored at home. You kinda start to lose faith in the scene and decide "fuck it, we’ll do it ourselves". I think though, in order to get the album properly distributed in Australia we’ll need to seek help from someone, somewhere. It’s just hard to convince anyone to let you on their team without a proper release. Hopefully we’ll catch a break when the album comes out in 2 weeks.
The band has built up a reputation for being a band that tour quite regularly. What keeps the band so motivated to keep touring so often?
It’s so much fun. Honestly, why wouldn’t you want to spend 2-3 weeks in van with great mates, doing something you love and seeing the country. I’m getting a semi just thinking about it.
In April/May the band will be touring again for the first time in a while, what are you all looking forward to the most about this tour?
Ahh personally, babes. I can’t speak for the rest of the band, but I’ve never been on tour as a single man, I don’t think I’ll even play shows, I’ll just be getting my creep on. Apart from that, just playing live again, with new songs, a new frontman, new merch and a new album. I think it’s gonna be the best time of our lives. Our Newcastle Cambirdge show (April 28) will be insane, it’s a free show, our first show in almost 6 months in our home town and it’s with our really good friends State of Grace.
Who are some of the best new bands you have seen lately that we should be checking out?
I was actually going to say Coma Lies NC, but I haven’t seem them lately. I’m not sure of any NEW bands, apart from Driven Fear (QLD) and the Eradicated. We played with both these guys and they ruled.
Dead Kings – great band and now they’ve recruited Zaca as their vocalist, they’ll be virtually unstoppable.
What were your top 10 favourite releases of 2009?
Shit, ten? I’m gonna speak for the whole band then.
Propagandhi – Supporting Caste
Every Time I Die – New Junk Aesthetic
Converge – Axe to Fall
Poison the Well – The Tropic Rot
Cartel – Cycles
August Burns Red – Constellations
A Day To Remember – Homesick
Say Anything – Say Anything
Paramore – Bright Eyes
The Almost – Monster Monster
If you could tour with any three bands, past or present, who would you chose and why?
Every Time I Die / Dillinger Escape Plan / Michael Jackson.
Because the first two seem like incredible bands to hang out with and play shows with, and MJ because every show would be guaranteed a sellout.
What are the band’s plans for the rest of 2010?
After touring and releasing the album here, we plan to head over to the USA and tour there, then hit the UK and do that. We just need to play as many show in as many places as possible. It’s gonna cost shitloads and be tough, but it’s what we work for as living, breathing humans, so there’s no regrets or second guesses about how much of ourselves we’re pouring into this, even if it means we come home poor and starving, we’ll just do it again.
Thanks for the interview, any last words?
None. Except that one word. None. Shit. Now I’ve said too much.
Go check out www.myspace.com/comaliesnc for tour dates and where you can pick up "The Great Western Basin" available April 14.
Thanks for the interview Tom. Loved it 🙂