:: The Comas :: Hi-Dive :: August 6 ::
By Tiffany Childs
Perhaps it was recording in a spooky mansion in the Catskills that makes The Comas’ new album Spells so enchanting. Or maybe it’s that the band has finally found its place in the music world. Whatever it may be, The Comas and their new album Spells both leave an indelible mark on the listener.
If it is true that a record invariably documents an artist’s life during a particular time period, then things are certainly looking up for Andy Herod (vocals/guitar) of The Comas. The band was catapulted into the spotlight in 2004 with their album Conductor, which focused rather publicly on Herod’s breakup with actress Michelle Williams. Now, their new release Spells sees The Comas growing stronger in their particular brand of psychedelic garage pop and branching out into new topics.
The band was formed in 1998 in Chapel Hill, N.C. and has seen a consistent shifting of members since that time for various reasons. One major reason was Herod’s move to New York in 2004, just before the release of Conductor. “North Carolina has a very slow pace,” Andy told The Marquee in a recent interview. “You always see the same people and I got a little antsy. So we moved to New York for more excitement and opportunity.”
It turned out that not everyone from The Comas wanted to go. Hence, the changing lineup. As a matter of fact, Nicole Gehweiler (guitar/vocals) is the only other original Coma left. Matt Sumrow (keys/vocals), Jason Caperton (bass) and Nic Gonzales (drums) round out the group as the “newcomers.”
The new album certainly reflects the new members. “Spells is a much different album because this time around there was a lot of input, a lot of voices adding an opinion. So, the songs are more of a compromise than in Conductor,” Herod said of the record. “The process was sort of like making an art project together that just happened to revolve around my songs.”
Indeed it is different. The songs are still full of floating synths and guitar fuzz, but they have a much happier, shinier sound now. Spells is a more upbeat album that has more of a party vibe than Conductor, which focused on one pretty dreary subject for its entirety. The album shows a side of The Comas that isn’t as serious and is slightly weirder than they previously lead on, most notably in the lead single “Red Microphones.” It’s a refreshing view.
“That wasn’t necessarily the original goal,” Herod told The Marquee, “but it makes sense for us as a band right now. We wanted to make something that was different sonically. Recording this album was a bit experimental, but it was fun as hell and I’m pretty happy with it overall.”
Part of that experimenting might be due to recording with Bill Racine (The Flaming Lips, Mates of State). “Bill is awesome and crazy,” Andy said. “There are producers who go into the studio knowing exactly what they want. Racine isn’t one of them. Bill has this sort of kitchen sink method. You pile anything you want into the mix and then you peel back the layers at the end to find these great songs.”
Whether the songs are great or not is apparently still being argued by the critics. “We have received a lot more responses for Spells,” Andy mentioned. “It seemed like Conductor was well received by everyone, but this is a more mixed response. And I feel like there is more awareness for the album.”
The Comas aren’t a band that really cares about reviews, though. They’re more concerned with getting the music to the fans. Having been on tour for most of the summer, they just hit the road again at the end of July after a brief respite. Playing dates all over the continental U.S., The Comas are giving fans a chance to judge the new material for themselves.
:: The Comas ::
:: Hi-Dive :: August 6 ::
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