I live for finding new artists that I can blast at full volume. The one that’s fulfilling my soul is KOATES, London’s latest indie-rock/pop band. On November 16th, the trio rocked The Lexington and provided the venue with some serious sound. The set included their debut single “Escalators” and newest release “The Right Place”. I had the chance to sit down and chat with the boys for an exclusive pre-show interview. There was never a dull moment with this friendly and energetic bunch, It wasn’t hard to tell they really love what they do on and off the stage.
Kristi: How are you guys feeling about your set tonight!?
JoJo (Bass): “Revved up, so revved, slicked back ready to cut that pie!”
Joe (Drums): “The past few gigs we’ve done we tried to introduce some beef songs and make it more interesting. We’ve improved the tracks in different ways and always try to introduce something new, and tonight it’s a big step up.”
K: So, how did you guys get together? Did you already know each other or did you meet through the band?
Joe: “That’s an interesting one, James take it away…”
James (Lead Vocals): “We weren’t friends before and we still aren’t friends let me make that one clear (Laughing). I did a little trip around London for a week looking for a bass player and my last stop on the list was JoJo’s dad’s shop. He was working in there at the time.”
JoJo: “Yea and James walks in and said he was looking for a bass player and I was standing behind the counter with a bass and he was like, “do you wanna come play a few gigs?” and I was like “no” and then a few weeks of James texting me every day, I was like “Ahh go on then. This guy seems alright” and now we’re best friends.”
James: “I met Joe in an Indian restaurant. I was on a date with a girl and Joe was with some friends. I knew one of them and they came over to chat.”
Joe: “Yeah, and then we hit it off. We just got chatting for ages and his date kinda just…”
K: Oh no, she left?
Joe: “The date didn’t go so well unfortunately.” James: “Yeah, but she’s coming tonight.”
Joe: “No way! Things have come full circle (Laughing).”
K: How did you guys come up with the name KOATES?
JoJo: “I remember we climbed this mountain when we first got together. We sat around and basically looked at different mountainous plants and looked up their Latin names. Eventually we decided to just use James’ second name with a ‘K’ in front of it and then we came down the mountain and gave up on that whole bit. It was much easier and we could have done it from home. Waste of three grand (laughing).”
K: What are some of your musical influences and how would you describe your sound.?
James: “My biggest musical influence would be Fleetwood Mac, songwriting wise. I listen to them a lot.”
K: I’m a big Fleetwood Mac girl too.
James: “And our sound, um…”
Joe: “I think it’s a mix of a load of different things. I guess our genre can be described as indie-rock with a pop sensibility. I guess we have influences from indie-rock bands and alternative rock bands that kind of go back decades into musical history. I guess the one I like referencing is The Police. They’re a band that has so much energy, but also have a sensibility about their songwriting. As a drummer, watching Stewart Copeland is incredible. The energy that he conveys on stage is something that I like to channel myself. It’s like playing simple things, but like with that pizzazz.”
JoJo: “The Va Va Voom…”
Joe: “But yea that’s one of the many creative influences that we have and wear on our sleeves. Our musical sleeves (Laughing).”
K: Yeah, that’s a good one. So, tell me a bit about what the songwriting process is like? Is it sort of one person or is it more collaborative?
James: “It differs. I write where I’ll be watching TV and I’ll come up with the mass chords on guitar and then I’ll find a melody that fits with that. Lyrics never come first for me.”
JoJo: “I’m very much a same time kind of guy.”
James: “Oh really? I guess it starts with the sound.”
JoJo: “At the same time, I’m thinking about that mountain trip we went on and then you start bringing in the plant names and you got a song pretty much (Laughing).”
K: What are your aspirations for the future as a band?
Joe: “Sell out stadiums.”
James: “Yeah, I reckin’ that’s the four to five year goal in my head. Next year is to sell out. I don’t know what’s possible really, but fuck it… The one that’s really in my vision right now is something like Scala or Coco.”
Joe: “Yeah, that’s just down the road as well. I think we’re happy to play, but we wanna step it up and we have stepped it up with the Lexington. I feel like I want us to continue this journey of constantly just stepping up the venue game. That does involve touring as well and involving ourselves with other artists and trying to do that more and more cus that’s also how we can build our fan base.”
JoJo: “To rinse the festivals would be nice.”
Joe: “I’ll give you media gold! JoJo your fly is hanging down.”
JoJo: “So, for me right now the goal is to zip up the fly (Laughing).”
K: At least it’s not a video interview. Last but not least, are you guys coming up with any new music that you’re putting out soon?
Joe: “The second single came out last week, “The Right Place” and the video came out last night.”
James: “I aim to have maybe like a little EP at the beginning of next year, maybe late January.”
Joe: “Yeah, we got a lot of stuff in the pot coming.” JoJo: “We got a hell of a lot of songs.”
James: “Three or Four songs should be released early next year I reckin’.”
After the interview it was time to grab a drink, find my friends and switch into party mode. Two of my girlfriends were visiting from the states and had never been to a proper London gig before, so I invited them along. I was stoked to take them to their first and especially pumped because it was KOATES. The girls and I headed downstairs for a round and a quick catch-up. A few pints plus a couple shots and we were ready to rock.
From the first second the band graced the stage to the very last, they continuously smashed it and filled the room with a strong energy that never died. I had a feeling the band was gonna be great, but it wasn’t me I wanted them to impress. I turned to my girls and just had to ask them what they thought… “I love them. They’re legit gonna be doing big things in a year.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
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