An Interview with Little Comets

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I’m thrilled to give you all this post! Little Comets, an English indie-rock band that formed in 2008, have been one of my favorite bands since high school. I’m ecstatic to have interviewed lead singer, Rob Coles, for my blog.

Little Comets, made up of brothers Rob and Michael Coles, plus friends Matthew Hall, Matt Saxon, and Nathan Greene, released their debut album, In Search of Elusive Little Comets in 2011. The next year, the band released their second album, Life is Elsewhere, (my favorite!) under Dirty Hit records. If you’re unfamiliar with Dirty Hit, they’re an award-winning, British, independent label (and happen to be my favorite record label), whose artists include The 1975, Pale Waves, Wolf Alice, The Japanese House, and more. Little Comets were signed with Dirty Hit until 2017. They independently released their third album, Worhead, that same year.

Matty Healy of The 1975 mentioned his friendship with the guys in an 2013 interview.  Little Comets even helped produce some of The 1975’s early tracks.

“Little Comets took us out on the road when we were in our very embryonic stages of our old band and just let us open up for them. We started getting fans off the back of that…Then they helped us produce ‘Sex’ the song, and ‘You,'” -Matty Healy

I discovered Little Comets in 2013 when they performed a show at a small, intimate venue in Portland. I got tickets to the show out of curiosity, and after just a few minutes, I fell in love with the band’s unique sound. Echoey, driving drums, beachy guitar riffs and vivid lyrics that can be interpreted in a variety of ways…that’s Little Comets.

Little Comets started out by playing small college gigs, cafes, and other unusual venues in the UK. Since then, the guys have come a long way. Just this last year, the band teamed up with Catfish and the Bottlemen (another fave band of mine) for a sold-out arena tour. After that, the band spent the winter writing and working on new music in none other than singer Frank Sinatra’s former summer home in California! These days, album number five is in the works, and the guys are planning out their next tour–it will be the first time they’ve hit the road in two years.

A Perfect Playlist: Tell me a little bit about how Little Comets got started. Have you all been involved in music-related projects since you were young?

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Little Comets (Rob Coles): Mickey are I brothers, so we’ve been writing songs in the house since we were very little. Once we’d finished Uni, we decided to see if we could make a living out of being creative, musically, so we set about finding other musicians to form a band. That was the start of Little Comets with Mark (our original drummer), and Matt, our bassist.

APP: One of my favorite songs of yours is “Bridge Burn.” It’s a super special song for me and a few friends. Can you tell me a little bit about the story behind it?

RC: Ah thanks, that’s nice to hear! That’s a song I wrote in my bedroom while Mickey was mixing songs for our second album. I kind of wrote/recorded it roughly and had lots of lyrics almost immediately for it. The coast is pretty great for providing lyrical metaphors. Theme-wise, it’s just about two people who realize that their time is up. When Mickey heard the song, he really molded the landscape. Initially, it was just a B-side, but in hindsight, we probably should have put a little more faith in it, as it seems to be a pretty popular song.

APP: Your sound/genre has been described as “kitchen sink indie.” Do you agree with that?

RC: Haha, I don’t really mind–as long as people are polite and constructive, they can describe our sound how they like. I suppose that it could mean, in terms of subject matter, that we write about kitchen sink-related things, which was certainly true of album one. In a sonic sense, though, we do use a lot of percussive instruments which are also kitchenalia, so if the cap fits…

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APP: If you could invite one artist/band to be in the crowd at one of your shows, who would it be and why?

RC: We got really excited once at a gig in Oxford because somebody asked that Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead) be put on the guest list. It spoilt the gig, though, because we spent the whole evening looking for Jonny Greenwood despite him not actually being there, and probably never having any intention of being there. So I would choose Jonny Greenwood because I haven’t said “Jonny Greenwood” enough in this answer.

APP: Your latest music video, “American Tuna,” is super creative and visually complex in how it was filmed. Can you tell me a little bit about your experience filming? How did you come up with the idea as it relates to the song?

RC: It was fun, but stressful. We had received an email telling us, despite our very polite request, that we explicitly couldn’t use the building. So the whole process was based around being very secretive. This definitely hampered the final product, as we couldn’t redo shots or control timing or lighting. Mickey was in a Paternoster lift in an 18-floor building with the camera. As the lift travels up, each floor is a different scene which tells the story of a relationship. Mickey was in that lift for about 6 solid hours while we chased him ’round the building, doing scenes in non-chronological order to avoid security cameras. We were happy with the final video, but I just wish that people could see the levels of effort and time that just three people were involved in executing. It looks pretty pro, and the DIYness doesn’t come through. I think that given the constraints, it’s amazing. But I’m biased.

APP: That’s mind-blowing. Writing music is super different from filming a visual interpretation of a song through a music video. Has that ever been a challenge for you as a band?

RC:  I think we’ve learned to separate the processes quite naturally. We also like learning new skills, so the challenge of making a video or a piece of artwork is an opportunity to do that. The only problem is time. We are three people, yet we have to record, write, and release the music on our own label, then promote it whilst making the videos and artwork. Because we are novices in many of these areas, it takes us longer to produce these assets. That often puts us behind, as artists at a commensurate level have teams of people and pools of financial resources that we don’t. It does make the task psychologically difficult at times as well, compounded by the fact that we are in a industry that gives credence to having a machine in tow. We often get overlooked and dismissed because we don’t have a manager, record label, publisher, art director, plugging team etc. I think this is where the real challenge lies for us.

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APP: You haven’t toured for two years, but you’re making plans to head back onto the road soon! Do you have a favorite/funny memory from being on tour in the past?

RC: Probably when Matt broke his foot in Texas. We spent the next five days telling him he was fine, but then talking privately about how he was really hamming it up. By the time we got to Missouri, he got an X-ray and found out he had a hairline fracture. We felt TERRIBLE! He completed the rest of the tour perched on a bar stool during the gigs, and he became my hero.

APP: Are there any songs you feel you’ve outgrown that now seem to stray from your current sound?

RC: Ah no, they are all our babies. They popped out for a reason and we can’t really turn them away even when they become slightly haggard/annoying. That would be bad song parenting!

 

Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, Rob!

Listen to Little Comets here:

 

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An Interview With Jimkata

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Jimkata

Jimkata is a three-piece band from Ithaca, NY. After a short hiatus, the band self-released their latest record, In Motion, which is a flurry of synthesizers, echoing vocals and light, snappy guitar riffs. Fans of bands such as Bleachers, Walk The Moon or Bad Suns will appreciate Jimkata’s upbeat, infectious bass and tracks that incorporate a number of styles—funk-electronic, a bit of alternative, and a touch of 80’s influenced style synth-pop. Songs on the album such as “Jumping Out of Airplanes,” or “Wild Ride” are fast-paced with a heavy dance beat, while the smooth melodies of songs like “Synapses” are slower but still feature a funky, driving rhythm. I was so excited to interview this band–I’ve had their latest record on repeat the last few weeks!

A Perfect Playlist: How would you describe your sound?

Evan Friedell, lead singer of Jimkata: We call ourselves electro-rock.  Basically, it’s synths, guitars, and electronic production all smashed together, but with its roots in classic songwriting.

 APP: What’s the story behind your band name?

evan2J: Packy, Aaron, and I have been playing together since we were kids. At some point when we first started writing our own original music in high school, we needed a name for a gig in the local park. We were spending a lot of time recording with a friend of ours and one day he introduced us to this ridiculous movie called Gymkata. It’s  a really cheesy American made Kung-fu movie starring 1984 Olympic Gold Medal gymnast Kurt Thomas. In the movie, he must use his unique art of gymkata to defeat the fictional Eastern European country of Parmistan…hilarity ensues…  SO, when it came time to toss names around, “gymkata” made us laugh at first…but then we thought, “hey that actually has a ring to it,” and it’s stuck ever since.

APP: Who are a few artists in the music industry today that inspire you?

J: One of my favorite artists is My Morning Jacket. We like the idea that you can be great songwriters and producers, create well respected albums, but also have a raucous live show and an organic following of loyal fans.  There are a lot of artists that I admire, but the ones I admire most tend to cross genres and demographics to bring people together.

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   APP: I heard that you recently went on a hiatus from performing. Can you tell me a little bit about that? How did the break help you further develop/define your sound & style?

J: We went through some line up changes over the last year, and ended up having to take the fall off from touring while we figured out how to continue playing as a three-piece.  It was our first time not touring in quite a few years, and I think it ended up being a blessing in disguise. It gave us a chance to refocus, plan the album release more effectively, and set our intentions as a group going forward.  Then, as soon as we decided to go forward as a three piece, we just started rehearsing like madmen. After playing our first few shows this way, I think we’re really hitting our stride stylistically as musicians. I had a lot of time to practice singing and playing, and we had time as a group to perfect all of the sounds we use in our live shows.

APP: What’s your favorite song off your latest record, In Motion? I’ve had “Jumping Out of Airplanes” on repeat all this week. Love it.

signing2J: Awesome!  Ya know, I think that might be one of my favorites as well.  I often feel self-conscious about songs in that I never know if they’re really done. Especially with lyrics, it can sometimes feel like I could edit, over think, and basically doubt myself forever.  This record came together really quickly and I didn’t even have much of a chance for any of that. Sometimes, when you trust the first feeling or thought that comes to mind it’s just meant to be and you shouldn’t mess with it too much.

APP: Who were some of your musical inspirations as a kid, and who are they now?

J: I was a huge Michael Jackson fan as a kid.  Still am. I looked back on that recently and realized he really was the king of the 80’s and 90’s.  I don’t know if there will ever be a pop star of that magnitude again. I loved Paul Simon’s Graceland and I had a couple early hip-hop tapes that I wore out.  I’m all over the map now in terms of musical inspiration.  Sometimes it’s just one song by an artist that grabs me, other times it’s their whole way of being and going about their career. I also love Radiohead and Kendrick Lamar. I admire the fact that, given the top of the charts celebrity status he had, Kendrick chose to create such a socially, politically and musically meaningful album. He could have just made some record label created crap that was calculated to sell but he chose the more challenging route.  To me, there aren’t enough artists like that right now.

reflection2APP: Who had the best performance on the Grammy’s this year, in your opinion?

J: Didn’t watch all of it, but I did catch Kendrick Lamar’s performance and, again, amazing. He’s just pushing boundaries, making statements, and remains seemingly humble despite the immensity of his fame.

APP: What would each of you being doing if you were not pursuing a career in music?

J: I really don’t know. When I was a kid, my first goal was to be in the NBA.  Then I got older and my next goal was to be a musician. I definitely didn’t make the NBA…so now I’m a musician.

APP: I am currently a volunteer for the on-campus radio station at my school, and I recently did a review of your new album that just came out this month. (I loved it, obviously.) We are planning to play it on KWVA pretty soon. Have you ever heard one of your songs on the radio? If so, what was your reaction?

1454263538-jimkataJ: I have. It’s a little trippy.  At first it’s exciting, but then I gotta turn on my analytical, self-critical brain and think about if it sounds good enough to be played for a wide audience.  Then I try to turn that off and be like, “chill out and just enjoy it! Your song is on the radio!!”

APP: Anything else you want to say to readers of A Perfect Playlist?

J: Thanks for listening!!!

Jimkata will be performing with X Ambassadors and Robert Delong on May 16th at State Theatre of Ithaca!

Check out my fave track by the band, “Jumping Out of Airplanes” here:

Find the band below:

YouTube

Website

Instagram

My interview is also featured on the homepage of KWVARadio.org. Check it out here.