By Lucca Raventinkie Interview: Coast Jumper Feb. 5, 2012
Meet Coast Jumper, the latest harmonic, hypnotic band reminescent of Vampire Weekend and The Beach Boys in a dream. From college to real life, from Sutures i to Sutures ii, from mellow insight to short-lived mosh-material rock, Ariyan Basu, Brian Hans, David Vieira, Jordan Berstein, and Nick Blossom have been jiving in the dark with a candle – seriously – to bring their genuine emotion – without the emo sensibility – via seemless undulation. We went the 14-question distance with Dave and Ariyan of this five-member crew.
Q1: I saw you all rocking out at Hotel Utah Saloon. I see you have an up coming gig there again February 8th. How often have you played there? What is the furthest place from Oakland and San Francisco you have played?
Dave: As for the Hotel Utah, this will be our third time playing there, on the 8th. We’re super excited because we’re playing with Bell Thieves, and we’re in love with them (in a platonic way).. Might be one of our favorite venues to play, just because of how it’s laid out. The double-decker floors really make it fun.
The furthest place we’ve played was a Halloween show at the Cellar Door in Visalia, with our other loves Fierce Creatures. The trip down there smelled a lot like cow poop, but the show ended up being awesome anyway!
Hotel Utah Saloon double-decker floors
Hotel Utah Saloon at night
Q2: What is the funniest thing that has happen during a concert or to the band?
Dave: It was one of our first shows premiering Disabler (the heavier track on our album), and it was when we were still in college. We were playing at a frat party, following a dance-inducing Motown cover band. There was a huge crowd of frat bros dancing up little freshman girls, all eagerly awaiting the next band so they can keep groovin’. We come on, all excited to debut our new song, not realizing our audience at all, and open with Disabler. They tried to dance to it for a while. Then it got heavy and weird. Needless to say (if you’ve listened to the track, that is), we cleared out the dance floor, and the only remaining people were our friends and a few awkward frat bro youths still trying to salvage their dance. Horrible at the time, but so funny in retrospect.
Question 3: You mention that you love Bell Thieves and Fierce Creatures. What other bands do you dig? Are you currently influenced/inspired by a local band? And what band do you worship?
Dave: We dig a lot of bands. Locally, B. Hamilton from Oakland, Waterstrider from Berkeley, Dogcatcher from Mountain View, and (not so locally), Animal Eyes from Portland. All very good friends of ours that everyone should see live given the chance.
We also worship a lot of bands. Lately, Snowmine, an up and coming NY-based indie rock band, has been dominating our eardrums. Definitely check out their debut, Laminate Pet Animal, it’s so worth it.
Brian and Jordan
Q4: Your sounds are hypnotic, but what reels me in are your lyrics. Who writes your music?
Dave: Thanks, we enjoy hypnotizing people.
Dave: As for who writes our songs, it’s everyone, really. Every part you hear was probably written by the person playing it, and that includes the lyrics. Three of us me, Dave, Ariyan, and Hans sing lead throughout the album, and the lyrics are generally written by whoever’s singing.. Our process basically starts as a simple idea (could be a melody, rhythm, chord progression), and everyone basically builds on it until we’re content. As you can imagine, it takes a long time for everyone to become content, and we’ve had songs take months to get to the point where we all could say “yeah… now that’s a song.”
Q5: So Grand Opening is your first album right? How did that take? How long did it take to produce the least and most time-consuming songs? Which ones are those?
Dave: Yep. We met in college and wrote all of these songs in our four years together, pre Coast Jumper. The songs changed, evolved, got better, worse, whatever. A lot (read: A LOT) of songs got thrown out, too. It’s kind of a representation of how we grew up in college, as cheesy as that sounds, but it really grew up with us from when we met freshman year, to when we graduated, and the album kind of follows that growth. We spent a good part of our senior year finally recording it all with our good friend Kevin Harper at Ithaca College, which included us recording, producing, and mastering together in a very nice studio that the university had.
The hardest song to do all of this for was probably Disabler, mostly due to how stressed out the actual song gets us just from its mood. I remember a very embarrassing session where me and Ariyan, knowing next to nothing about recording at the time, somehow managed to make the first take sound like a reggae/ska track… that original recording might actually still exist, now that I think about it…. #VH1CoastJumperBehindTheScenesMaterial
Q6: Dave, what is your favorite part about music? What were you playing and doing 10 years ago?
Dave: My favorite part about music is the mood it can convey. Hearing things like Thom Yorke say “It’s the thousand yard stare when you look at someone close to you and you know they’re gonna die” about Knives Out gets me so excited. If a song can make you feel happy or sad, that’s cool. If a song can make you feel desolate, uneasy, angry, serene… that’s even cooler.
10 years ago, I was probably playing Super Smash Brothers with my high school friends. For real. I wasn’t much of a musician—I only learned how to play guitar junior year of high school, and the first songs I learned were Metallica songs (since I was a huge metal head). Before that, I played clarinet in marching band.
Q7: Who was the geekiest person when they were 10 years old in the band? Who is the slickest band member now?
Dave: Geekiest? SEE ABOVE QUESTION. Marching band, video games, and lame metal bands. I also wore cargo pants that were baggier than the dickens.
Slickest? I want to say me because that would be a fun stark contrast, but that would be hopelessly false. Probably Nick, since he gets all the girls.
Q8: You are nodding to the Beach Boys in “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)”. Why did you all choose this particular song to cover? Did they influence you all and how so? Why do you think they were so infectious?
Ariyan: Pet Sounds hit us all pretty hard near the end of college. When I played through the album for the first time, “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)” completely floored me. That vocal melody was perfect, emotional but not overly so, and it flowed seamlessly from part to part. I immediately grabbed my guitar and figured it out, then went downstairs to show the others. Jordan suggested we cover it.
Brian Wilson is a tremendous influence on us, his composition, his production, etc. But one thing that really fascinated us was his attention to vocal performance. During the Pet Sounds sessions, he would demand the other singers record and rerecord and record their parts until they were JUST right. He didn’t want a singer to even think a thought that was incongruous with the words he was singing. The genuine emotion was so important. It sounds silly, but we arranged our version of Don’t Talk in a pitch black (save for one candle) basement one winter, just trying to feel “it” —the music— as much as possible. We actually ended up recording a lot of the album in relative darkness too.
I don’t know if I’d call music “infectious” necessarily. Maybe the Mike Love-era stuff. But the later stuff, like Smiley Smile, is literally the work of a man spiraling into insanity Pretty heavy stuff.
We imagine this as “in the dark with a candle”
Q9: Who has the beard in the band? I remember during your concert you said something about Ariyan being the only one who is able to grow facial hair. Is this a serious statement? How do you all feel about that? Feel like the rest of you are missing out on the indie stage set? ;P
Ariyan: I have a beard. This is a serious statement.
Dave: He has generously offered to grow enough facial hair for the rest of us, but has lately been scaring us because he has gotten a lot of compliments on his recently-shaven face.
Q10: When and perhaps why was your first gig?
Dave: Our first gig out here was at Cafe du Nord with our friends Mainland, earlier this year (I believe in September?) who were touring from Brooklyn. We were originally going to play at the Milk Bar, but they totally double booked it and gave us the finger. We got lucky because Cafe du Nord agreed to save our show and move it to their venue, which is an infinitely cooler place anyway. You hear that, Milk Bar? WE DON’T NEED YA!
Q11: You all seem to tweet about girls a lot. Guess you really like ‘em huh?
Ariyan: Yes, but this is misleading because all five of us are gay lovers. Sorry girls.
Grand Opening album cover
Q12: Who did your Grand Opening album cover? And who designed your website?
Dave: I did! I don’t really know anything about design, but I’ve always wanted to learn, so the band has kind of become my personal project to get better at that. I’ve also been designing a lot of the posters we’ve had for our shows and it’s been a lot of fun.
Q13: Do you think there is a connection of all art forms? Do you think someone who is a good musician could be a good painter, graphic or web designer, fashion designer, dancer? Does anyone come to mind?
Ariyan: There’s probably some sort of connection, because we are all pretty fly dancers.
John Lennon comes to mind; he did music, painting, poetry, and had sweet fashion. Wasn’t a great web designer, but you can’t win them all.
I sat belonely down a tree,
humbled fat and small.
A little lady sing to me
I couldn’t see at all.
I’m looking up and at the sky,
to find such wondrous voice.
Puzzly puzzle, wonder why,
I hear but have no choice.
‘Speak up, come forth, you ravel me’,
I potty menthol shout.
‘I know you hiddy by this tree’.
But still she won’t come out.
Such softly singing lulled me sleep,
an hour or two or so
I wakeny slow and took a peep
and still no lady show.
Then suddy on a little twig
I thought I see a sight,
A tiny little tiny pig,
that sing with all it’s might.
‘I thought you were a lady’.
I giggle, - well I may,
To my suprise the lady,
got up - and flew away.
Q13: What are you looking forward to most in 2012?
Dave: Rather than the crazy parties on December *20th and then the subsequently crazier parties on the *22nd? Grizzly Bear’s planned (??) next album release. Veckatimest totally blew us off your socks, especially when we saw them live in a tiny, almost empty auditorium at Dickinson College. It was a magical time. *“December 21 (12/21/2012) is the Mayan end of the world! Figure there”d be a lot of partying surrounding that date.”
Q14: What is the funniest thing/image that someone could put in a knob? Here’s a knob that is pretty funny: Elmo at Burning Man? You think he was giggling?? But come on, give it to us. What do you think about the funniest image? And also, where would they put it?
Ariyan: A picture of Dave’s knob. On a knob. And I’ll let you decide where you would put it.
Unrelated thought: Maybe we can get band knobs and sell them as merch at our shows; 5 kinds, each with one of our faces on it!
Q15: What is your dream as a band?? What do you want? And what is the most important message that a listener (and maybe viewer too) could pull from your music?
Dave: To get an article making fun of us on Hipster Runoff. Kind of not joking. At that point, I feel like a “buzzband” has kind of made it, don’t ya think?
As for a message from our music? This is a tough one, since our music tends to be pretty inward and we try to stray away from being preachy in our writing… Maybe that could be one? Just live life and learn from it? That sounds pretty good.
Listen to For Youth from their new album, Grand Opening, and get the full album by visiting coastjumper.com.