Text: Lucy Olsman
Photos: Anne Brans
Coach Party, the quirky foursome from the English Isle of Wight, is a star at writing extraordinary lyrics combined with a pure and authentic indie sound. After releasing debut album Party Food in 2020, no less than two EPs have followed. Well-known songs include the song FLAG (Feel Like A Girl), which addresses the dark subject of distributing nude photos against one’s will. Because of the raw air the music carries, the lyrics take on a lot of meaning, which accentuates the songs’ message. It is clear that the group has strong opinions about certain things they want to share, and they do so steadfastly. There are no superfluous or useless additions that could be distracting: Coach Part’s songs are extremely sincere. Last Saturday night, the group was supporting Wet Leg in Vera, Groningen, and that seemed like a good time to catch up with the foursome.
Take us on a journey through the formation of your band. How did you start making music, and what motivated the four of you to do so?
Guy (drummer): Me and Joe were in a band a few years ago. We were all friends by then. Then Jess and Steph wanted to start a band with us, so we started making music together! It sounded very natural from the start, although everyone has a different background in how they started making music. Everyone has completely different views on music, but we all like each other’s ideas. All this together makes us get a very unique combination of music.
We also have some peninsulas in the Netherlands, and these are quite remote. You are also from an island, what is the music scene like on the Isle of Wight? Are there a lot of bands on the island?
Joe (guitarist): There were times where the island was very remote, but now the music scene is cool. When we formed a band, there weren’t very many other bands on the island. Everyone on the island knows each other. It’s a close-knit community.
What is the island like?
Steph (guitarist): It’s very relaxing. There’s not much to do, but it’s ten minutes by hovercraft to the mainland.
Joe adds: If you’ve lived there like we have, you take the island for granted. True, there is not much to do, but people come there on holiday and already enjoy an evening of bowling!
Is it a nice place to grow up?
Joe: It was a “safe haven.” You could go out and play as a kid and not come back all day.
Did you know Wet Leg, since you are from the same island?
Everyone: Yes, absolutely!
Joe: There are a lot of connections. Josh, the guitar player from Wet Leg, gave us music lessons when we were younger. I even taught Rhyan to play a little piano!
Steph jokes: This guy (Joe) is responsible for Wet Leg’s success!
Were you also friends with them?
Everyone: Yes we were!
Guy: And we still are…?
Jess (bassist and vocalist) jokes: we’re more famous than them now, and sometimes they try too hard to be like us.
It must be a great opportunity to play with your friends tonight?
Steph: Yes. It’s nice to hang out with your friends, especially when they’ve been away for almost the whole year. Very good fun to see them again. It’s nice for them too, because they get homesick very quickly.
What part of the music you make are you most passionate about? For example, do you most enjoy writing lyrics, or creating the melodies?
Guy: I am most proud of the style of the lyrics. The lyrics are quite sarcastic, funny and unusual.
Jess: The melodies. I find the guitar parts the most fun to listen to.
Joe: I also feel most drawn to guitar. You hear us becoming more mature through the albums, so I also like how the lyrics tie in with that
Steph: I like putting together unusual pieces the most. If I think “Ooh, that was a crazy scream!” and it fits in well, that makes the music original. We have a song called Red Jumper Boy where a dog barks in the song. Things like that are the most fun for me.
That song was on the album Party Food. Are you guys proud of that album?
Joe: The album is the most special. We made it before labels wanted to work with us, so it’s the most pure and uninfluenced of all our albums. It was the most authentic because we didn’t think about what others would think of it.
Jess adds: We would have been fine playing in front of ten people at the time, and our biggest dream was to get on Isle of Wight radio!
What do you guys think of the city of Groningen?
Steph: We haven’t seen much of Groningen yet. But we love the Netherlands. Everyone is so nice, and always check if you’re doing well. You don’t have that in the UK.
Guy: It’s also so wonderfully small. You can drive from bottom to top in two hours! We just did that today.
What kind of topics do you prefer to sing about? Because in the song FLAG (Feel Like A Girl), you guys bring up the subject of nude photos being circulated. Are you more often inspired by social issues like this?
Steph: Something like that happened in England a while back. The inspiration for the song arose from that, but grew into addressing how some men can treat some women.
So you sing about things that evoke intense emotion in you?
Jess: Yes. We focus on that, now more than ever. People can relate to it, which is nice because that makes it even more meaningful when you play those songs live. But it’s also sad that people can relate to it.
Guy adds: Still, the biggest compliment you can get as a band is that people can relate to your lyrics. It’s even better than when they just find your songs ‘catchy’.
It’s nice that you guys can experience it that way. Now for the two concluding questions. First, what could you guys not live without?
Guy: Burgers. And Steph. But of course the others too.
Jess: You don’t have to say that out of pity!
Steph: My water bottle. If I lose it, I would be very upset. I love drinking water. And what else? Flip-flops.
Jess: My mother’s dog Penny. She’s my whole life. And a bath. I love bathing. Oh, and tea!
Hooking in on that: Is the artist life what you expected it to be?
Steph: Everything around making music can get very intense. You’re constantly on each other’s lips. On top of that, I hate hotel rooms.
Jess: Sometimes you also only eat one meal a day because you’re so busy with everything.
Guy: You don’t get much rest, because when a gig is done you are relieved, but you have to move on to the next city almost immediately.
So it’s not what you were expecting?
Guy: No, but it’s fantastic.
Joe: When you get home, you only remember the very best things from the tour. The good memories remain.
What did you guys expect from it, what did the artist life look like in your heads?
Jess: I expected it to be sex, drugs & rock and roll. But we don’t actually participate in that because it will destroy you. We do realise now why some bands do, because tour life is really tough.
Guy adds: Yes, we do understand why bands do it. But it doesn’t really appeal to us. The unhealthiest thing we do is eat burgers.
Oh well, I see an apple on the table there, so it’s all right!
Steph: It’s just that it’s uneaten…
Final question: Think of a marketing slogan for your band. Why should a Dutch audience come to your concert?
Guy: Coach Party… They’re art-y! I think it will appeal to people who like art. We could release little drawings with each new album and become ‘the artsy band’.