Originally published December 28, 2010 in Aux.tv
When friends Luke, Ben, Ian and Jord met as teenagers, they had a few things in common – music was one of them. Testing the waters as a band proved rough in the beginning – they even had to open for a Spice Girls cover band. But in the decade since, it has been clear sailing for The Coast. They’ve toured North America and Europe, released two albums and an EP and honed a beautiful, atmospheric indie-pop sound.
So, it came as a bit of shock to followers of the band when they announced their split earlier this month. The Toronto band will play their final show tomorrow, December 29, at the Garrison.
“Being in a band is like being in a marriage,” bassist Luke Melchiorre. “It’s not a surprise to any of us why we’re breaking up.”
The band cites financial, business, creative and personal differences as the crux for calling it a day.
“There’s a lot of stuff that goes on behind the scenes with bands,” explains guitarist Ian Fosbery. “Just touring in general can take a toll and unless you’re in a band, you don’t really know. It’s also an expensive endeavour, and being in a band can be a very unsustainable thing. If one member of the band is having doubts, it becomes hard to sustain the band.”
The band’s Facebook page sheds a bit more light on the reasons behind their demise. Fosbery has decided to spend more time in New York with his girlfriend, Luke Melchoirre is in the midst of a PhD program and lead singer/guitarist Ben Spurr is pursuing a writing career.
“Things have changed since the first record came out to this current one,” Spurr notes. “The same kind of energy is not behind us anymore.”
That said, the bandmates insist they’ve had a good ride, from start to finish, and are looking forward to their last hometown show.
Starting out in their native Etobicoke as The July 26th Movement, (the name was inspired by the revolutionary Cuban movement during the late 1950s), the band underwent a name change in 2006 and was reborn as The Coast.
“The old name was never an avant-garde statement. We just kind of thought The Coast sounded better,” Spurr explains, noting the band took their name from a Paul Simon tune. “It’s rare that young people don’t like music, and that was the case for all of us,” he says. “Growing up we were influenced by acts like New Order and Paul Simon.”
Spurr has always written the band’s lyrics. “It’s always a good feeling to finish a song,” he says. “Our lyrical content has changed a lot over the years. It’s jarring how confessional the first album is. But the second album is far less personal.
Throughout their musical career, The Coast has been supported by a devoted local fanbase that bought their CDs and packed their shows even before their debut LP was released in 2008.
“We have always been supported by a large group of friends who became fans,” Luke Melchoirre says. “And that support has rarely wavered in ten years.”
Known for their dynamic live show, the bandmates agree that performing live came easy to the band thanks to their confidence in their music. “If you’re a good enough band, you should be able to impress strangers,” Spurr quips.
One of the highlights of their career was getting to tour with Blue Rodeo. The bandmates recall a particularly infamous incident when drummer Jord Melchoirre head-butted Blue Rodeo frontman Jim Cuddy.
“It was more like a love tap,” Jord, Luke’s brother, says, laughing. “He had his guitar over his head, and I felt like giving him a hug, but we ended up kind of butting heads.”
Luckily, it all turned out okay in the end – Jord apologized, and Cuddy remarked that he “felt the love.”
The Coast say they’ve been pretty lucky to have the opportunity to tour with many different artists, but in hindsight, they would have loved to tour with fave likes Wilco or Wolf Parade.
One thing that has changed over the years, however, is their approach to hero worship. “If you had asked me that early on in our career, I would’ve had a list of twenty bands,” Luke Melchoirre says. “But now I would rather tour with bands I like.”
Another highlight for the band was getting to tour Germany. They played Hamburg and Berlin, and the experience included a hefty dose of parties and excitement. “Everything happens in Germany!” Fosbery enthuses. “I don’t really know how the country works, because the bars are open 24/7,” he quips.
Now that The Coast is coming to a close, Luke jokes he will sit in dark rooms by himself a lot, while Fosbery is working on a musical project called The Bellwoods, but the new act doesn’t have a record deal yet.
And what about a potential reunion down the road? It may not happen anytime soon, but the band’s response is a hopeful one for their devoted fans: “never say never.”
The Coast play their final show at The Garrison in Toronto on Wednesday, December 29 ($10 or $7 with two non-perishable food items).