Born from Nashville’s melting pot of music genres, COIN was formed in 2012 by drummer Ryan Winnen, singer/synth player Chase Lawrence, and guitarist Joe Memmel. Since their debut, the trio has released two albums, with a third slated for spring 2019. In the meantime, Winnen, Lawrence, and Memmel, who are now based in three different parts of the country, have been dropping new music—on November 18, they released “Cemetery,” which dissects anxieties about the future and is a follow up to October’s upbeat love song “Simple Romance”—and it’s some of their most honest yet.
Below, Winnen spoke to COOLS about the band’s changing creative processes, genre fluidity in their evolving sound, and why honesty is essential to producing work that sticks.
COOLS: How do you think making music in Nashville affected the music you wanted to make as a band?
“Living in Nashville allowed us to hear everything first. It was almost to an overwhelming degree where I think it can be confusing for people deciding what genre they want to play. Obviously certain things come out of people naturally, but I think when you start a band you have so many different brains as opposed to just a singer-songwriter. We found it really interesting that we all had eclectic unique tastes rom our upbringings. I think Nashville was the perfect melting pot city that had so many different genres of music that were truly thriving for us to pick up little things from everything and decide what we wanted to make. I think we saw a void for what we’re doing now, to have this sort of band exist in Nashville aside all of these country artists.”
COOLS: How did your creative process change for this forthcoming album?
“We’re making music now more intuitively than ever. Joe, Chase, and I started the band back in 2012 when we met and we would just get in a room together and play. I think that spirited art form went away for a while as we started to do co-writing with other people, which we still do now, but I think you start getting lost in what it is to make a popular song or make something that is gonna connect on that commercial level. Not to say we don’t consider that sometimes, but I think that intrinsic sort of expressive level of communicating went a way for a minute. Now, we’re making music how we did when we first started, which has been a beautiful resurgence of energy. I think this next album best highlights what we each do individually because we all had a voice and we allowed each other to have those voices. There was no control-freak mentality. It just feels very natural. The home base has been rediscovered.”
COOLS: How did revisiting this previous creative process change the work you’re making?
“The process is the same but the life experience has changed. We’re living in different places now. When we started the band, we were all in Nashville and sharing life to a degree. Now, I’m in Nashville, Chase is in West Virginia with his family, and Joe is in New York City. And that’s by choice. Everyone’s happy where they are right now. Separating has made the life experience more unique for the creative process because there’s so much more to talk about— there’s so much diversity and there’s also real life being lived. It’s almost like leaving home for a second time, if that makes sense. We’re all growing and learning at our own pace, so when we actually do come together to create we have something to say. We don’t see each other face-to-face very often unless we’re working together or we’re on tour, which really allows for wildly diverse expression.
COOLS: How did it change the work sonically?
“We’re always going to operate as a rock band when we perform live because that’s where we started and what comes naturally to us. But we really love pop music, we really love hip hop, we love R&B, we love funk…we love these other genres of music. COIN, when you listen to it, doesn’t sound like those genres, but there are tricks of the trade to be learned from every genre in any direction you go. I think we’re constantly pulling things and saying, why couldn’t we try this? We explore different styles but it always shapes up to be who we are, which I’m actually really grateful for.”
COOLS: The band has said the forthcoming album is the most honest work you’ve done so far. Why is that?
“I think personifying things and emotions we all have had has been really important for the band—to give them some life and say, look, I’m thinking this and feeling this, someone else in the world has to be thinking or feeling this too. It’s honest because it’s scary and because it’s real. We’re trying to be where we are, to be okay with where we are and not be so afraid of the future. In order to not be afraid, you have to let that fear manifest in the songwriting.
“If you have the capability to be in a band for a living, why would you choose the poetic nebulous route every time when you actually have the opportunity to speak simply about where you are? The third album is like, here it is, here are some themes that we’re curious about.”
COOLS: How did “Cemetery” come about, and why did you want to release it now?
“A friend and frequent collaborator approached Chase about the idea and they started working on the song together. Chase was able to elaborate on this fascination with the future where there’s a little bit of anxiety. What do I want do be remembered for? What does the idea of legacy mean? Do I want to be this person who puts my family and relationships first, or do I want to go for the highest of high material possessions and climb the ladder? It was very much real to all of us.
“We literally just started releasing music again. We only released one song earlier this year, in January, and we were like cool, we’ve got some new music, we’re not exactly sure when the album’s coming out. We love the idea of finishing this new album, but we just need to start putting music out. We decided the next song needs to be something that needs to be chewed on, that forces people to listen closely. I think people can pigeonhole you after certain songs get released, and you always want to try and challenge that.”