Interview with Brent Drew of the band Coy
By Brian Tucker
Coy, a local folk and rock and roll band, will have its album release show this Saturday at Reggie’s 42nd Street Tavern with fellow acts Hectorina, Daddy Issues and Deadly Lo-Fi.
It’s been “a long and windy road” says lead singer and guitarist Brent Drew of the band’s revolving door musicians and fill-in drummers. All those ups and downs have been stressful, but the turmoil likely added to the chaotic aesthetic to the band’s music.
Deep Ecology’s Evan Baker summed up their music the best, calling it “post-apocalyptic heartache folk rock.” Their EP Wasted Winter is a summation of many things – a coarse winter, a failed relationship, music that’s melodic and also feels like a train running off the rails.
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Travis Burdick of Doctor Gone Records, the EP bears a ragged quality and a light garage rock pedigree. Burdick has nothing but praise for the band. It was recorded in May with the then line-up of Drew, Emma Nelson, Hannah Simpson and Kayleigh Christiana. (Christiana left the band, J.J. Storniolo took her place).
“They are great to work with,” Burdick said. “Each one of them plays and writes music they love because they love it. They are all passionate, fun loving, talented people and I really enjoy being in their company. It really was a fun project to do and I would gladly do it again.”
Doctor Gone Records has a track record of releasing garage rock groups (The Mad Doctors, The Carvers, Deadly Lo-Fi) but Burdick said that Coy’s sound forced him to work outside of his comfort zone, something he liked.
“Brent originally wanted things more clean in the beginning without all the fuzzy reverb I have done in the past with Deadly Lo-Fi and Sidewalk Babes,” Burdick said. “We ended up finding a good middle ground that made us all happy with a cleaner sound but still a nice garage, lo-fi feel that I like the Doctor Gone recordings to have.”
The album was recorded mostly using live takes and songs like “Blue Eyes” benefit from the energy of that process, making for a rollicking song even with its weighty melancholy. Wasted Winter is infused with such things, a collection of material Drew says reflects someone lost and lost time.
“I chose (that title) because it describes my winter of 2012-13, which I wasted chasing a girl and drinking heavily,” Drew said. “I had my first glimpse of personal freedom from high school and moving out of my parent’s house.”
The music sometimes has a ragged personality, especially on “K’National.”
Drew: “K’national” is technically one of the first few songs that I wrote under the name Coy. It has gone through many changes but I guess I tried to blend Modest Mouse and Ryan Adams at first, but then it grew into the finger picking verses after I heard Justin Lacy’s Overgrown album.
I’m curious about what shaped you as a singer/musician/writer.
Drew: I was very into Nirvana in middle school and that sense of song structure has stuck with me since then. I really enjoy Devendra Banhart, I call him god on most occasions. “Dead Moon” influenced the maniacal laugh in “Cancer.” Mikal Cronin, The Front Bottoms, Together Pangea, and honestly, JJ’s guitar playing style grew on me after living with him for four months or so. And Lonnie Walker! Brian Corrum is a lyrical genius.
Do songs represent the earliest incarnations of Coy?
Drew: No, I really don’t play old songs anymore. There is a big gap on the EP between “K’National” and “Cancer” and “Cancer” to “Blue Eyes.” “Blue Eyes” is the most recent on the EP but we’ve got some new one’s we’re ready to release at the show. They’re kind of similar but more intricate than the old stuff. I really like the key of G right now.
Songs feel like they lend themselves to a high energy live set. What song really allows the band to let loose?
Drew: The song we get really into is actually one of the newest called “Waltz in Eyyy.” We’ll be playing it at the release show for the first time live. But of the EP we get down to “Blue Eyes” and “Cancer” most.
How do you look at “Cancer” – is it more fun to play and perhaps less painful now?
Drew: “Cancer” is horrendously less painful now. That song, it was one of my biggest emotional releases ever. Once you put a song out like that and get comfortable playing it in front of people, everything else just gets easier. One time, someone said they left the room because it was too much.
The lyric in “Blue Eyes” – “doesn’t want me anymore, possibly because I threw up on her front door,” is brazen and real. Is it difficult to be honest in songs?
Drew: My writing style is more journal than anything else. Every song is pretty much made up of events, conversations, and feelings throughout my day or my months depending on the song. I really enjoy being blunt and honest in my music and saying as much as I can in the least amount of words.
Like a song called “Mellow Mushroom”?
Drew: The title “Mellow Mushroom” comes from my first date with someone. It was originally a journal entry and I found it again one day and made some edits and added some chords. It quickly became a favorite of mine afterwards.