Coastlands • Live at dunk!festival 2019 [Video + Interview]
After their passage at Dunk!USA in 2017, Coastlands made the trip overseas to play the mainstage at #dnk2019: relive that moment once more! David Zeidler talked to guitarist Jason Sissoyev about the new look/new approach Coastlands, touring life, their thoughts about making the trip overseas, and more (scroll down).
You’ve booked your first European tour surrounding your festival appearance. What are you most looking forward to about touring here?
Jason Sissoyev: We are all looking forward to meeting some of the bands from Europe that we’ve been fans of for years and get the opportunity to play with them and to explore the different countries that are on our tour route. With so much history in Europe we’re looking forward to diving deep into the culture of each city! We’re really hoping to find some good haunted spots and have a European ghost encounter or two.
Speaking of touring, you’ve been on the road pretty relentlessly the past two years. How’s the experience been?
JS: It has been fantastic and at times challenging. We’ve faced multiple breakdowns, storms, conflict, and nearly escaped death a few times. Touring has brought us closer, both personally and as a band. It has also challenged us to be better songwriters and better people in general too. There’s always a point in the van where we’ve burned through our playlists and podcasts and end up getting deep into life and social issues. Kind of like band therapy from three unqualified and deeply opinionated dudes. We love writing music, touring and performing, its cathartic and our way of expressing the things we have a hard time capturing in words.
You’re something of an old-school dunk!records alumni at this point, having released To Be Found a few years back prior to your most recent release The Further Still. Tell us a little about your relationship with dunk!, how that got started and has since evolved?
JS: Our relationship started when we initially reached out about doing a re-release of To Be Found on dunk!records. Our US version had sold out and we had a second batch of records that we wanted to push, and we knew dunk! would be the perfect company to team up with. They have always been the most supportive advocates for the genre and continue to be on the forefront the Instrumental/post- community. We consider To Be Found to be our first record because it is the first album written as a full band (anything before 2016, we were a duo and self-recorded) and it’s the first time we recorded live in a studio. So, it holds some nostalgia to all of us and we’re just happy that Wout and Luc believed in the project in its infancy. Our relationship as evolved with Dunk! Records as they have begun pressing records. We sent them early versions of the songs from The Further Still and began brainstorming together what the physical product would look like, from the cardboard used on the jacket to the variations in the vinyl colors. Every step of the way, they have been supportive and encouraging. I couldn’t imagine a better group of folks to have on our team
dunk!2019 is something of a mini-dunk!usa reunion, with you, This Patch of Sky, Zhaoze, A Thousand Arms and myself all being alums of that fest. Can you tell us a bit about that experience?
JS: Dunk! USA was such a great experience, it was a meeting of all the people and bands we’d talked to over the years online. It really solidified the Post community in the US, allowing us to all be in the same room with each other and connect beyond the surface. Seeing everyone play live and absolutely crush it, after a day or two of building relationships, was inspiring to say the least.
Your sound really evolved from your previous releases to The Further Still. This new material is heavier, rawer, and more energetic, less about soundscapes and more about immediacy. What was the thought process going into writing and recording?
JS: We set out to make a record that was honest and representative to who we are as band on and off stage, to create a record that captured the energy of our live performances. The writing was simple and always as a group 1-2 times a week. Then we’d take our demos and each come up with ideas to bring to the studio on the following week. On To Be Found it was more about bridging the gap between the previous material - as an ambient duo - and the new direction, as a full band. The Further Still is representative of where the band wants to be and less about where the band came from, it’s about being honest and pushing ourselves. Recording was simple and the record was done after two long days at the studio. We used amps for all the distortion and experimented with cab combos, microphones and really cranked the volume to simulate stage levels.
Since your appearance at dunk!usa you’ve condensed your lineup to a trio, yet having seen you live twice since then (in Vermont and at Post. Festival), it’s safe to say that your stage presence remains massive. Talk a little about life as a trio, how it has changed your approach in terms of performing, what the pros and cons of a smaller lineup are.
JS: We started as a duo, grew to three, then four and for a brief time, five and six members. Life as a trio is excellent. Pros: more room in the van, less people to keep track of when traveling, Decisions are made quicker, smaller hotels/airBnB, on stage we don’t have to ever worry about running into each other and when it comes to writing, the ideas are much more condensed/focused. Cons: Less amps on stage, having to rewrite old songs to accommodate two guitars vs. three, one less person to drive and fewer options for a safety net when performing. It does put more pressure on the three of us to stay on top of our game and remain focused, but it’s a challenge that has made us stronger overall. The one thing we knew we couldn’t sacrifice was our stage presence and energy, which has remained and grown even more now that we are a trio. We’re all big guys and being able to move without restriction has been a game changer!
You’re touring through Europe with PILLARS, another post-rock band you’ve had previous connections with (through your appearance at Post. Festival). Can you speak to the community that exists between artists in the American scene? It’s a sprawling land mass, but anyone who exists within the scene can attest that there is a sense of family when it comes to bands around the country.
JS: We’re really excited about touring with PILLARS; they have become close buds over the past year or so! Every day the community between bands in the American scene gets stronger. I believe it all starts with breaking down the walls that separate us, because at the end of the day we’re all trying to do the same thing and it’s more fun to see someone succeed when you understand their own personal battles.
For example, Post. Fest was a unique experience because everyone was genuinely content, and I didn’t hear one bit of negativity all weekend. We got lost in each other performances and celebrated our differences. It was like being at a picturesque family reunion.
We are always better together, and the sum will always be greater than the parts. We’re building more than a community; we’re building lasting relationships where we support and encourage each other to be the best version of ourselves. Community is more sustainable than competition and will always weed out those who try to bring it down.
Aside from Coastlands, what is one can’t-miss band on this year’s dunk!festival lineup?
JS: This entire festival is going to be incredible and we are looking forward to seeing Malammar, Silent Whale Becomes A Dream, Wang Wen, PILLARS and Staghorn!
What is something you’d like to convey about Coastlands to people in Europe who will be seeing you for the first time?
JS: We are three anxious dudes who, without music, would be a puddle of depression.Our hope is that you can find safety and rest within our music. We are truly grateful for the opportunity to play in Europe, it’s been a dream of ours for a while.
—David Zeidler for The Stargazer Magazine #4 at dunk!festival 2019
Banner picture taken from Coastlands’ facebook page