Interview: COIN talks new album, wild experiences and growing up in Nashville

Interview by Tiffany Lam

COIN is Joe Memmel, Zach Dyke, Ryan Winnen, Chase Lawrence. This fresh indiepop-rock-infused quartet of twenty-somethings just released an epic EP back in February and will be touring all summer long. They’ll be releasing their self-titled debut album in June, and to say we’re excited about this one would be an understatement.

We had a chance to check out COIN open for Passion Pit in Toronto at the Danforth Music Hall earlier last month, where they proved themselves to be natural born performers. In this interview, drummer Ryan Winnen spills to us about their new album, growing up in Nashville, wild experiences with the band and other unknown insider secrets you’ll most definitely want to know about COIN.

I hear it’s everyone’s first time Canada. How do you like it so far?
Ryan: We love Canada! Toronto specifically is very clean, and the people have been so kind and hospitable to us thus far.

Bit of a typical question, but it’s always interesting to know, how did you guys meet? At what point was COIN formed?
Ryan: Two of us met in school at Belmont University – our singer Chase, and our guitarist Joe – met in a music theory class. They sat next to each other and decided to hang out and try writing songs together. When they started, these were mostly sort of folk(y) songs. I had been dating a girl that sat on the other side of them. She overheard them talking about this new project they were starting and sort of volunteered me to play drums for them. Joe called me, and I ended up stuffing my drums into Chase’s little dorm room at the University. It (the music) was no longer folky, and something about our first musical encounter felt liberating and fresh. I think it was what we all needed. The name was initially “Casual Friday” but we soon after changed it to “COIN” and added our bassist Zach (another Belmont student), who had been primarily doing photo/video and shot a music video for us. Put more simply, we have no idea how we landed here, but we’re so grateful we did!

Do you find living and growing up in Nashville has any influence on COIN’s sound and if so, how?
Ryan: Living in Nashville, definitely. All of our friends play music and they’re all really, really good. It’s an encouraging community. The styles are so different and seeing so much live music has definitely influenced us and helped us find our “thing” — something that hopefully sets us apart. None of us actually grew up in Nashville, so moving there was extremely humbling for us as 18 year old musicians with essentially no idea what we wanted to do specifically within the industry. Luckily, we found each other and seemingly had a path already drawn up for us.

You recently worked with a top producer, Jay Joyce, for your debut album coming out soon. How was it like working, writing, recording, etc. with him?
Ryan: It was so wonderful working with Jay. He really pushed us in ways we didn’t even know we needed to be pushed. He made us play our songs so many times through before actually recording them. Then other times, he’d trick us into tracking something when we just thought we were rehearsing in order to get the natural energy and performance. He was an innovative and unique coach-like figure that we believe every band our age needs to have over their shoulder. Jay helped us unlock our sound, and we didn’t really know it until listening to the record front to back. We’re so excited to share it this Summer.

And you released an EP not too long ago too, will these songs be on that debut album as well?
Ryan: Yes!

Now I know the tour just started, but how is like opening for well-known indie-electronica band Passion Pit?
Ryan: It has been a dream playing with Passion Pit. The shows have been massive and so much fun, and the fans dedicated, attentive, and open minded. Michael, his band, the crew and the techs have all been so kind and welcoming to us as well. That has made the experience that much better.

2015may_ COIN Toronto David O’Donahue 3

What has been your most memorable COIN show so far?
Ryan: We played a set once at 2:00am in Brooklyn at a little place called Baby’s All Right for their 1 year “birthday week”. We had just finished playing a show at Bowery Ballroom that night and rushed over to Baby’s after watching our friends and tourmates, KOPECKY finish up playing at Bowery. So, if you’re following me, this was our second show of the night…. When we got to Baby’s All Right, they told us our set was cut in half to 15 minutes, and that we were no longer playing at midnight… We waited around for a while (about an hour and a half) and watched a pretty insane, sort of mellow/druggy set from an artist playing the earlier show… People were half naked in the crowd just sort of bobbing their heads. We felt VERY lost, but then realized there were a ton of really cool and notable New York bands and producers hanging out. It was a circus of sorts. Oh, also, Mac Demarco was there for the early show and jumped out of the birthday cake.
Finally, the first show ended and we threw our equipment on stage… I played a house drum set that was literally beat to pieces and was falling apart. We also didn’t get a soundcheck. Our friend Emmett was doing front of house for us and gave us a reluctant “thumbs up(?)” right before we decided to start. We played a 15 minute power set and it was one of the most amazing shows we’d ever played. It was punk rock, and though it probably sounded spastic and crazy, we felt like teenagers again.

That totally sounds like a wild night to remember. We love KOPECKY and Mac Demarco. Have there been any surprising/strange rumours about you guys yet?
Ryan: Not that we know of! We’re still new to this (touring, specifically), so I’d imagine some strange things will happen at some point.

They’ll come, they always do [laughs]. What would you say has been the band’s proudest moment so far?
Ryan: I think at this point in our career, today, we’d all agree that getting added to Sirius XM Alt Nation was a pretty surreal moment for us. They are such a fantastic tastemaker for the style of music we play, and have been incredibly supportive since adding our single “Run” It may sound cliché to answer by saying “being on the radio,” but it really has been a milestone of ours to reach because we’re such avid listeners.

Who are some artists that have inspired you guys through the years and helped you create the identity of COIN?
Ryan: The Killers, The Strokes, Talking Heads, The Cure, Modern English, Peter Bjorn and John, etc. have all been huge influences of ours. As well as tons of New Wave bands from the 80’s and 90’s, and contemporary synth rock stuff. Our producer Jay showed us so much of that music. We also love pop music. It’s all across the board, really.

Name one thing (each or altogether) on your bucket list that you want to accomplish in the next year or so.
Ryan: It would be really cool to play The Ryman in Nashville at some point. Whether that’s in the next year or not, we can’t say. But we adore Nashville, and that’s sort of a big deal there.

What are you guys most looking forward to in the next couple months? Besides all the touring you’ll be doing opening for various artists, of course.
Ryan: Getting to release our first record, I think. And then going back to cities we’ve played and getting to play songs from the record live for those people. They have heard a handful of these songs live, but not recorded. We’ve spent so many hours crafting the songs, testing them out at our shows, changing and rearranging them, demoing them, recording them. It will feel really cool to know that someone can just press play in June and get to hear our whole process (many hours, days, months) come alive in less than 45 minutes.

COIN’s debut self-titled album featuring “Run” is set to release June 9th, 2015.

(Photos by David O’Donahue)

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