Coach Party on Their Debut Album “KILLJOY” | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, May 23rd, 2024  

Coach Party on Their Debut Album “KILLJOY”

Leaning Into the Extremes

Sep 08, 2023 Web Exclusive Photography by Martyna Bannister Bookmark and Share

Back in 2019, Coach Party announced their arrival with the frenetic fuzzed-up debut single “Oh Lola.” While they didn’t quite explode out of the Isle of Wight in the same way as fellow islanders Wet Leg did a few years later, Coach Party’s progress has nevertheless been thrilling to watch. Due to the Isle’s size, it was inevitable that like-minded music fans were bound to cross paths, whether that involved going to gigs, working at venues, or just hanging out around the music scene, which is how vocalist and bassist Jess Eastwood, guitarists Joe Perry and Steph Norris, and drummer Guy Page met up.

After three critically acclaimed EPs (Party Food, After Party, and Nothing Is Real), they are now finally set to release their debut album, KILLJOY, which expands their sound but also retains all the energy that made them such an exciting proposition. Guitarist Joe Perry explained how they approached recording the album: “I think there are fundamentals we’ve always trusted and stuck by throughout all of the stuff we’ve recorded. We definitely wanted it to be more expansive sonically. As we’ve progressed as a band we’ve not been scared to embrace and lean into the extremes, for example making the guitars heavier and buzzier.”

KILLJOY is cohesive but never one-paced and it certainly captures the band’s live energy, with the explosive unhinged rush of songs such as recent single “Parasite” and “Micro Aggression,” but also more reflective moments on tracks such as “Be That Girl” and the wistful “Always Been You.” It’s an album that flows beautifully, but the tracklisting did require a fair bit of thought.

“Getting anything right on this album was the hardest thing in the whole world,” vocalist/bassist Jess Eastwood explains. “From the tracklisting to the song names to the album title, you don’t really realize how hard planning an album is outside of writing the tracks. And also, everybody’s creative vision is different—we all heard the songs very differently. While arranging this tracklist, we decided to cut it into two sides of a vinyl; and we felt both sides have a really good balance whilst being mindful that they obviously, they have to sound good altogether when you listen on CD or Spotify.”

The title itself, KILLJOY, seems at odds with their earlier EP titles such as Party Food and After Party, almost like a conscious delineation between the past and the present. “Joe better answer that as he came up with the name,” laughs Eastwood. Perry takes up the story: “Well, I certainly think the stuff we have written since Party Food and After Party did feel less connected. When we released our third EP, Nothing Is Real, we felt something in our songwriting had shifted. So it’s not a concept album by any means, but the title KILLJOY did tie in nicely with the themes we were writing about and exploring. And the two words in the title individually are polar opposites of each other, like feeling shit and feeling great, extremes of emotion which encapsulate what the album is about.”

Similar to the route Wolf Alice took, Coach Party have toured tirelessly and released an album’s worth of songs over three EPs. It must have been tempting to include some of the slightly older tracks, songs like “Shit TV,” which sonically at least sounds like a good fit. However, Eastwood is happy to let their previous work remain as a snapshot in time and felt no need to revisit it for the album. “To be honest we already have that body of work out there which we felt represented who we were and how we had developed. And I also think we owed it to our audience to have an album of new material to keep them engaged and entertained. I do love the Wolf Alice route of organic growth, and I feel we’ve been getting that. We were ready for our album. I think if somebody had said to us, ‘Why not do another EP?’ we would have said, ‘No, it’s time to do the album now.’”

The album is certainly an expansion of the Coach Party aesthetic, sounding bigger, bolder, and more confident than ever. “Well, our label and manager have always encouraged us to take things to the next level,” Eastwood reflects. “But not in a pressuring way. Everybody tells us, ‘You’re a live band,’ and we have crafted a live sound. So, like now we have 500 fucking distortions on each guitar, and we just want to pump it up and make it louder, edgier, and bolder. I mean, Joe now has a pedal board the size of a human being! We’re way less reserved, and playing live really helped us develop our sound.”

Playing live has undoubtedly afforded Coach Party unique and memorable experiences. They embarked on their own headline tour as well as touring alongside Wet Leg during their sold-out winter tour across the UK and Europe. Additionally, they performed at the 100k capacity Stade de France, supporting Indochine, and have recently opened in Europe for Queens of the Stone Age.

“It can give you a kind of whiplash,” Perry explains. “The places you perform at are so diverse.”

“This is true,” Eastwood interjects. “I remember when we played the Stade De France gig to about 97,000 people which was incredible. Then the next week in Bournemouth, we performed for about 30 people. So, it can be a bit of a reality check.”

But the band has earned its reputation by giving each and every gig their all, regardless of the size. “We don’t change our approach,” says Perry. “We always rehearse quite a lot before we embark on a tour and might adjust the setlist after the first few gigs to see what works. But whether it’s 30 people in Bournemouth or 97,000, you get the same level of commitment, it’s the same Coach Party!”

Now, with the release of KILLJOY, the band has been able to incorporate new material into their live shows. Perry remarks, “During the last series of gigs, we did introduce the new songs into the set. It’s great for us because prior to that, we were performing a lot of songs that we’d been playing for years.”

Eastwood agrees, “Yes, we’ve introduced ‘Micro Aggression,’ ‘All I Wanna Do is Hate,’ ‘What’s The Point In Life,’ ‘Born Leader,’ ‘Hi Baby,’ and ‘Parasite.’ ‘Parasite’ always goes down well; it always gets such a vibe.”

“Yeah, we actually finish our sets at the moment with ‘Parasite,’” adds Perry. “Most people haven’t heard it yet, and they think the set is over. And then we play that and melt their faces off for two minutes.”

Of course, touring isn’t easy for any band and it hasn’t quite been the mythical panacea to counteract diminishing returns paid by streaming. The post-COVID landscape has seen artists at all levels cancelling tours due to them being financially unviable, while the UK has seen a record number of festivals cancelled this year. “Financially, it can be hard,” admits Eastwood. “You do have to make a lot of personal sacrifices to do what we do, and we’ve worked hard to get to where we are now. Much of Coach Party to this point has been self-funded, and last year we were all as broke as shit. But we made the decision we’d take a financial hit and really go for it. It’s not just about not having the money to put in; it’s also the fact you spend so much time doing this that you can’t work regular hours. We now have enough coming into our Coach Party bank account to keep us going rather than the four of us putting money in individually.”

Perry agrees, “I’m now in a position where I can call this my job. I mean, when I look back, all I ever wanted to do was play music. But it wasn’t like, ‘I want to be in the biggest band in the world’—it was more, ‘If I can just make a living doing the things I love in music.’ I thought if I could make as much as I’d make working in, say, a cafe, then that would be sweet. And it’s been happening, which is amazing. But there’s been a lot of work and energy and time put in to get to this point. Over the years, we’ve all worked on the band and had full-time and part-time jobs, so it’s been a tricky balance. And you think, ‘If I didn’t do this, what would I do?’ I’d be at home going to work, which would be fine, but I reckon I’m having a much better time doing this. I guess it’s about having the resilience to stick at it and then reach a point where the scales start to slowly tip in your favor. It seems to be paying off.”

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